Christmas Countdown C -9


Holiday Buffet

During the holidays, most women have too much to do and too little time in which to do it.  Our hectic schedules make it next to impossible for us to get together with friends.  One way to solve this is to host an open house that features a buffet.  You might hold your open house on a Saturday, allowing your friends to stop in for a bite to eat between their errands.  Or you might choose to invite couples and families to your open house. 

Schedule the open house just before the fifteenth of December.  People get busier as it gets closer to Christmas. By scheduling your open house earlier in the month, your guests will not have to choose between invitations.

Decorate your home for your open house.  This helps set the tone for the party and gets everyone into the holiday mood.

Create a menu that saves you time and keeps your stress to a minimum.   A suggested menu with recipes follows.  The suggested dishes can be prepared ahead and cooked just before your guests arrive.  The menu also contains pre-made items that save you from spending all your time in the kitchen.  Remember, a successful party is not determined by the number of hours you spend in the kitchen.

To set up your buffet, you will need a long table for the food, a smaller side table for beverages and a third area for dessert.  If you do not have room for three separate tables, then place the desserts on the buffet table with the rest of the food.  It is more important to have a separate area for the beverages in order to ease congestion around the buffet table.

You may prepare your tables the morning of your open house.  This will save you time later in the day.   Cover your tables with tablecloths.  Choose a simple centerpiece for each table.  An arrangement of candles and small poinsettias works well.  The centerpiece should not be large since you need every inch of table space for food.

Put out your serving dishes and determine what you plan to serve on each dish.  Place a note on each serving piece to remind you, or to inform someone else, just what goes on that dish.  This will save you time and worry when you begin setting out food.   In addition, you should prepare folded mini-cards to labels each dish on the table.  This will let guest know what everything is on the table and save you from having to answer the same question over and over.

Lay out your table to the appetizers are on one end or one side of the table and the food for the main course is on the other.  Guests have a tendency to hover around the appetizers.  Set up a traffic pattern around your buffet table that makes it easy for people to serve themselves.

An open house allows you to invite more guests than you could for a formal dinner.  Unfortunately, most of us do not have enough dinnerware or flatware to serve everyone at once.  Rather than make guests wait while you run a load of dishes through the dishwasher, simply use disposable items for your buffet.  Yes, I am sure there are some people who will roll their eyes at your paper plates.  That is their problem.  Your goal is to hold a wonderful event and enjoy yourself at the same time.  Ease your stress.  Use disposable.

The suggested buffet menu has only 2 dishes that require cooking.  Each dish may be baked just before your guests arrive allowing you to serve them hot out of the oven.  Cheeses may be set out earlier, allowing them to soften slightly for easier cutting.  Prepare your beverage table, set out other food items, and lay out desserts.  As the pasta cooks, go take a bath and get ready for the party.

Just before people begin to arrive, turn on Christmas music, light the candles and set out the entrees.  Check your list and your table one last time.  Take a deep breath, pour yourself something to drink and prepare to attend your party.



Cheese platter

Assorted crackers

Assorted nuts

Tortilla Chips

Spinach dip

Dill dip

Vegetable platter


Baked Spaghetti

Pasta Marinara

Tossed Salad

Hard rolls


Cookie platter

Assorted breads

Tray of chocolates

Thanksgiving Countdown Challenge Thanksgiving Day Tip

There are many things to be done but if you have planned well, you should have time to relax & enjoy the day. Plan things out so you are able to enjoy your company rather than spending all your time in the kitchen. Ask someone to come early to help you with any last minute tasks, like popping the rolls in the oven while you mash the potatoes.

When it’s time to put the food on the table, recruit help. Things are hot, get them out fast!
Most important, you should enjoy your celebration. If you aren’t having fun, no one is going to enjoy themselves. Relax & have fun. Enjoy your company. Remember, it’s about the people, not the food or the location. You want to be the #1 guest at your celebration!

Thanksgiving Countdown Challenge T(hanksgiving) -1 Tip

The big day is almost here. In many homes across the country, the stress level is through the roof. In your home, calm reigns! You are ready for this because you planned, you worked smarter not harder. You can spend today doing anything that can be done ahead.
I clean my turkey & put it in the roasting pan then put it, covered, back in the fridge. I set the table, complete with serving dishes. Put a note in each serving dish so you remember what goes in each & you also remember to serve that item! Once the table is set, get help & cover the table with a clean flat sheet to protect it overnight. Set up the bar if you are having one.

Anything that can be made ahead & refrigerated the night before should be taken care of today. That leaves you time for all the tasks that can only be done on Thursday.
Get a good night’s sleep. Relax. You’ve got it under control!

Thanksgiving Countdown Challenge T(hanksgiving) -3 Tip

Take time to call your guests to confirm the exact (or close to it) number of people to expect for Thanksgiving. Verify they will be there for dinner, not just dessert. I always prepare for a few more just in case but try to get a better idea so you are certain you have everything you need.

At the same time, check your lists to see who is supposed to be doing what. Then call them to make certain they remember what they are bringing or doing. If there is a problem, no stress. See if you can assign it to someone else. Otherwise, either take care of it yourself or skip it. Remember, this is your event. Do it your way!

Thanksgiving Countdown Challenge T(hanksgiving) -5 Tip

Are you borrowing various items from people in order to host Thanksgiving this year? Today is the day to go around & collect as many as possible. I like to know well in advance that I have everything I need. I tend to fret about things like this, worried that I won’t have everything I need. The sooner I can have everything on hand, the sooner I can relax. I don’t want to get things TOO early because I’ll run out of space. But a little crowding for a few day isn’t so bad.

Doing this task now gives you time in case there is any kind of problem. Then you can come up with an alternative. It also gives time if anyone isn’t home. You still have a few days to pick things up rather than rushing around at the last minute.

Thanksgiving Countdown Challenge T(hanksgiving) -6 Tip

That’s it! Take the turkey out of the freezer & put it in the fridge. I always put a big towel under the turkey to catch any liquid that runs off as it thaws. You need a break if you did your shopping already. If you plan to do it over the week-end, get up really early! Everyone else is going to be at the store too!

You might also create a schedule of the items that need to go in the oven & things that need to be cooked in the microwave. You want to get all the food on the table & have it all HOT! Take time NOW to determine the cooking time on your dishes & schedule their cooking time.

The 12 No-no’s of Thanksgiving #12 Never Forget Gratitude

Thanksgiving can be incredibly stressful. So much to do & very litle time in which to do it, no matter how late it is in the month. You can take much of the stress out of the season when you avoid these 12 No-no’s for Thanksgiving. In this series, Jean Ann points out some of the things we do that create our stress, then offers ways to make the Holiday more joyful.

In this episode, Jean Ann reminds you it’s not Thanksgiving without gratitude.

Thanksgiving Countdown Challenge T(hanksgiving) -7 Tip

One week until Thanksgiving. Take breath. Everything is great. Today I want to talk to you about grocery shopping. The stores are very busy right now. I think the best time to shop is early, early in the morning. Most stores do stock work overnight. This means things are often well-stocked first thing in the morning. Stores also tend to be quiet early in the morning. Try to get there when they open so you can avoid the crowds.

Now, a word of warning: tempting as it is, try to refrain from doing your grocery shopping on your way home from work. I know how it is. You’re already out. You don’t want to make a special trip. You just want to get it done. Yes, you and hundreds of other people! The stores are PACKED during rush hour with people stopping to pick up a few things on their way home on a regular day. At Thanksgiving, it is just a mad house. Save yourself the aggravation by getting up very early & heading to the stores. In a few short hours you can be done. Then you can relax & take a nap!