Friday, November 14, 2008

Mastering The "Big Dinner"

For many of us the holiday season provides at least one opportunity to host the “big dinner.” Follow these tips and pulling off that dinner can be easy as pie.
1) Plan the menu with dishes that can be prepared ahead of time. Minimize last-minute time in the kitchen, and maximize the time you spend with your guests.
2) Write down the menu along with the locations of the recipes. Create your shopping list. Clean out the fridge and the pantry to make room for the extra food.
3) Write down which serving dishes you will use. Match the dish with the recipe’s volume; two cups of cranberry sauce looks sparse in a two-quart bowl. Simplify things by using sticky notes to label the dishes; don’t rely on your memory.
4) Sticky notes can help you create your time-line. Jot down each and every task on individual sticky notes with the time estimate for finishing the task. Now arrange the sticky notes in order of completion. The sticky notes help you arrange and rearrange the order of the tasks until you come up with a plan that will work.
5) Consider the appliances, temperature, and pans used to prepare a dish when creating your time line. You won’t be able to bake the rolls, desert and side dish together if they all need different temperatures or the pans won’t all fit in the oven.
6) Plan your table setting. Do you have enough linens, dishes, flatware and cups? Will the food be put on a sideboard or on the table? Will you use candles (always unscented at the table)? Will guests be able to see each other over the centerpiece? Will you assign seating or will guests seat themselves? Where will you put the bar? Asking yourself these types of questions help you mentally walk-through the event, anticipating any type of problem or challenge.
Organizing the “big dinner” is similar to organizing any other project: two critical keys of success are planning and writing things down.
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