this is how I host a holiday

Last year I did Thanksgiving and the middle Sister did Christmas just right!

Now Spring is….well, covered in snow and it is time to plan for Easter!

This will be 5 days of food, fun and everything else Family brings, this is what I do to make it special!

  • Inventory–That might sound weird but I start by cleaning out the fridge and organizing the cupboard. I find olives I forgot and will use. I check my sugar and flour levels, spices and condiments. Now I know for sure what I have and I am ready to move on to the next step.
  • Menu–My family all live a few hours away and in different directions, so that usually means a few days together. I have more than one meal to plan. I think about my audience (no Saffron Oyster Bisque for the 6 kids for lunch) I have a couple with food allergies too. Then aside from the grand production–I need some good food to feed my family that doesn’t break the bank and lets me spend time with them and not the stove and dishwasher.
  • Lists–I live in the middle of nowhere–I can’t forget an item. I will make a trip to Madison. I am not a one stop shopper-I go for the best product for the best price. Easter Dinner I will shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Aldi and Target. I will gather all but the produce and dairy days before the guests arrive. (My sister and I are going to try to sneak in a bit of time to shop while gathering the goods in Madison and perhaps a little sushi too)
  • Extras–I will need more laundry soap, dish and dishwasher soap,  trash bags and TP. I also get gentle bodywash and shampoo-Guests don’t like to use the family bar!
  • Specials–My Mom likes black jelly beans, my Sister bottled water and my Dad bleeds Diet Pepsi when cut. I make sure I have a few special things for my guests.
  • Schedule–I don’t have a moment by moment–but a rough idea built around arrivals and departures.
  • Activities–This is where my Julie from the Love Boat kicks in….I like to plan a few fun or special things for the kids to do together and with us–this is when memories are made! A few special things to share with my sister and a family moment or two when we are all together!
  • Job share–I can’t be everywhere at once so I have a chore list–dishwasher, trash patrol, TP level checks etc. Guests don’t mind helping!
  • God helps those–I make a few refreshment centers in and around the kitchen, I keep soda and pop in a cooler for easy access. A stocked coffee station with all the fixings stays out. Juice boxes and little waters for the kids on a bottom shelf in the fridge and lots of snacks for my guests to nosh on. Items like cheese, (this is Wisconsin) fruit, fresh cut vegetables, crackers and some sort of sweet.

  • Bringers–Don’t ever turn away offers, resist your desire to be Superwoman! Ice, Desserts, Dinner rolls, crackers-you can use it and the help!
  • Count-down–You can’t escape the fact that you, the hostess with the mostess is gonna have to plan, shop,clean and cook! I fell into this horrible trap when I first started…I wanted everything to be spotless (I even touched up paint and polished wood floors) I yelled at my kids and set elaborate tables…by the time the guests arrived my neck ached and my family hated me. Look you gotta clean the bathrooms, change the sheets and run the vac. Remember the point is to be a gracious hostess, make your guests feel welcomed and to enjoy the time together.
  • Give and Take–What is important to you? Do you want a super fancy table with Grandmother’s China, is the Deli doing the cooking, are you the one to cook and have help cleaning? Only Martha with a staff can do it all–I choose to make the food from scratch and I use paper plates, napkins and serve buffet style in disposable pans. I have learned to only try one new recipe for a holiday and stick to tried and true-Sometimes Oldies but Goodies are the way to go!
  • Prep–For this Easter dinner our menu has a few things I can do ahead. I will cook my carrots and mash them for the soufflé  and make my french onions and humus ahead. I can cook my rice. I like to set all the ingredients for each dish with a recipe in a disposable pan. Anyone who wants to help can whip it up and you don’t have to crawl around looking for cream of tartar. Maybe this is laziness on my part too, but I always use just one bowl and spoon to mix my dishes and really try to limit pans. I would rather wash one bowl eight times and be done than to face a sink full after the Finale!
  • Kiss— Keep it simple stupid…The Easter Dinner will be elaborate-so go easy on others. Breakfast will be oatmeal and fruit and lunch will be grilled cheese–Stick to the plan man!
  • Expect the Unexpected–There will be spills and something will not turn out right, there might even be an argument or fistfight–Have Clorox wipes, Band-Aids, Rolaids and Tissues ready-Roll with the punches.
  • The Day After Tomorrow–BE prepared, when they all go home your house will be trashed, the cupboards bare and you will be tired! Pizza, leftovers or take out–put your feet up and look at the pictures, remember the laughs and start planning the next one!

What tips and tricks have you picked up along the way? What makes your Holiday special? What do you fear most about a dinner party?

I am going to stretch my Hostess legs even more this summer–I am hosting a Family Reunion! I will use everything I know and I am sure learn more things along the way. Stay tuned in the coming week for–“I am planning a Family Reunion, wanna watch?

Sincerely, Sara

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