Thanksgiving has come and gone and the holiday season is in full swing. There are a few easy things you can do to make the season a little less stressful.
Shop for Staples Now
Make a list of all the staples you will need for the next six weeks. Buy enough of the products to get you through the New Year. When you are shopping for groceries or gifts you don’t have to think about buying shampoo or paper towels. Some of the things I buy in bulk after Thanksgiving are:
Make a List of the Events You Expect to Bring Food
What events do you expect to attend in the next few weeks? There will be some surprises but you have a pretty good idea of the main events that will need you to bring a dish or a treat. Events that I usually have in December are:
Office Food Day
School Treat Day
Pick One Savory Dish to Bring to All the Gatherings
Pick a “signature dish” and bring it to all the parties this season. You may need one sweet and one savory. The key is to pick one thing and buy the ingredients to make it 2-3 times (or more if you have a lot of gatherings.) By making the same thing each time you are saving yourself lots of decisions and grocery shopping. The ingredients will keep in your refrigerator and pantry and no one will know that you made the same artichoke dip last Saturday. Also, choose the bowls or platters to serve the signature dish and use them all season long.
If you don’t like to cook may I suggest making a cheese board. This is the easiest party offering! It is as easy as 1-2-3
1- One platter or wooden cutting board, One type of cured meat (like prosciutto or salami)
2- Two things that are not meat or cheese like dried fruit, nuts, jam, or olives
3- Three different kinds of cheese – One soft (like brie or goat cheese) One hard (like cheddar) One funky (like feta or blue)
Place it all on the platter or board and serve at room temperature with crackers.
Make and Freeze Several Batches of Cookie Dough
Take advantage of the fact that cookie dough freezes well. My KitchenAid mixer will hold two batches of dough. I like to make 3 double batches one right after the other. This yields 6 batches of dough and I only have to get the ingredients out once and clean the mixer one time. Wrap enough dough for 2 dozen cookies in plastic wrap and freeze for up to three months. When you need to bring cookies to an event, pull out one package of dough and thaw it slightly. Cut the dough into squares, then roll the squares on the counter top to smooth out the edges and form a ball. Place the balls on two parchment lined cookie sheets and bake according to the recipe.
For fun, you can replace the chocolate chips in your favorite recipe with red and green M&M’s. They look super festive and are easy to make. If you don’t have a favorite recipe- try the one in my cookbook. It makes cookies that are crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.
Planning ahead will save you lots of time. Don’t be afraid to keep your offerings simple. Everyone will appreciate the food you contribute to the gatherings and you will have saved yourself lots of time and effort.