Episode 23: 10 Tips for Large Family Gatherings
Large family gatherings can be lots of fun, but they can also be a lot of work. Here are 10 tips to help you plan and enjoy large family gatherings.
1-Think about the time of day and menu.
-Do you want a lunch, brunch, or evening gathering. Are there little kids that need afternoon naps?
-Plan your menu and let people bring some of the food.
-Avoid saying “bring whatever you want.” You will end up with just desserts and wine.
-Consider the person when asking for specific items. Do they like to cook? Do they arrive on time (if they tend to run late, don’t ask them to bring drinks.)
2- Think about your oven and refrigerator space.
-Do you have enough space to hold and cook the food? If you don’t, ask someone to help you. My mother is baking casseroles for Easter brunch because she has 2 ovens. I am making this Breakfast Casserole for Easter. You may also like this Breakfast Bake.
3- Make ahead as much as possible.
-Anything you can make ahead will save your sanity the day of the gathering. I make my caramel rolls the day before and bake them early in the morning long before guests arrive.
-If you can do at least part of the prep ahead of time that can help.
4- Don’t forget about food safety.
-Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold.
-Pewter serving dishes can help keep foods at proper temperature or use ice packs or hot pads.
-Refrigerate foods as soon as possible after serving.
–This podcast talks about food safety.
5- Be ready to deal with leftovers.
-Save disposable containers to send home with guests.
-Use zip bags and be sure to label them before you put in the food.
-Put each family’s leftovers in a separate bag in the refrigerator so they can easily take it home when they leave.
6- Consider your seating.
-Will you all be in one room or at one table or are you spread out to the outdoors and different rooms?
-Make sure there are some extra seats so people can sit where they choose.
-Have a backup ready if you plan on outdoor seating.
7-Consider the timing and pace of the meal.
-Do you want to have a leisurely start with appetizers or snacks and then move into the main meal?
-Do you want to feed the kids as soon as possible and have a leisurely end to the gathering?
-Have drinks ready as soon as guests arrive.
8-Think dishes and utensils.
-Choose your serving platters and dishes ahead of time.
-Make sure you have extra serving utensils for the dishes people are bringing.
-Are you going to use your china or plastic and paper plates. What silverware are you going to use?
-Where are you placing the plates and silverware? I suggest putting the plates at the front of the buffet and the napkins and silverware at the end so it is easier for people to handle their plates.
9- Think about cleanup before guests arrive.
-Place your trash can in an easy to find spot. Make sure it is empty and have an extra trash bag at the bottom of the can.
-Start with an empty dishwasher.
-Have a place on the counter for people to bring their used dishes.
-Fill the sink with soapy water to soak dishes.
-Have towels and dishrags ready for people to help you clean up and let them help you.
10- Enjoy yourself.
-Be sure to sit down and eat your meal.
-Let the pace be slow so you can enjoy the event.