Monday, November 19, 2012

Hostess Trying to Have the Mostest...

(Getting excited at the boys'
Thanksgiving Feast at school!)
It's that time of year!  As a person who loves to play hostess, I'm in heaven!!  I get excited about having people over, cooking for them, serving drinks, and watching everyone enjoy themselves.  Jeremy says it's my way of showing people I care about them- and I agree!  Aside from the actual act of cooking and baking, though, I stress out waaaaay too much and forget to slow down and actually enjoy the process- and product.  I decided to plan way ahead this year and eliminate as much craziness as possible.  My first get-together:  Thanksgiving.  I host every year and LOVE it!  It marks the beginning of the holiday season for me.  It also involves lots of cooking, so I welcome it with open arms!
To avoid becoming a sweating, crazy, grouchy hostess, I decided to make a list of things that I always seem the least prepared for and..well...prepare for them!  Here's my list, along with my solutions:

Not fancy, but works for me!

Frantically finishing cooking and cleaning the kitchen!
I always seem to be frantically finishing up the mashed potatoes and/or dressing at the last minute, as people are arriving.  Sometimes, I'm even cooking for a good half hour after guests have shown up!  This leads to a kitchen that is still messy- not to mention hot from the stove and oven being on, and I'm a sweaty mess!  After thinking about it, I realized that I save the "hot" dishes until the last minute to guarantee that they're not cold for the guests.  What I failed to remember is that I have two awesome double buffet warming trays from my mother-in-law!  Duh! 
I made a food schedule so that I'd know exactly what to do and when.  Not the fanciest thing in the world, but it made me feel calmer immediately!  Yes- I even included when to get dressed bc I am rarely a decent-looking hostess when some of my guests arrive.  It was one of the items on my list, but once I included it on my schedule, it lost its spot!

What goes where?
I have now taken out all of my serving trays, platter, bowls, etc. and figured out what suits everything that will be served.  I labeled each one with a post-it note and was even OCD enough to draw a picture of my kitchen and where each dish will go.  I had to include dishes that other people are bringing, and just planned for a large dish in order to guarantee space!  Now, I won't be stressing out at noon when I'm putting everything out!  Sounds silly, but it's a problem I just had to eliminate.  (I don't think this is my original idea.  I must have seen it on Pinterest!)

Can I put this in your refrigerator/freezer?
This is the one I'm never fully prepared for.  I get so caught up in cooking and cleaning that I forget to make room for my guests' things.  This led to a grand refrigerator/freezer clean-out and organization that took some time.  In the end, I have tons of extra space and am very excited!  I also made room in our garage refrigerator for the thawing turkey! (It usually holds beers, juice boxes, and extra gallons of milk.)
Two shelves of extra space
(Oops-chopped off bottom drawer!)

I am not a person who finds much enjoyment out of eating leftovers.  I get bored after having something one or two times, and feel horribly about throwing out food that was yummy just because we couldn't eat it fast enough. I thought of the solution at my friend's appetizer and dessert party this year.  After sampling eachother's dishes, Jennifer gave each guest a paper sack with a small tupperware container and a baggy so that we could take some favorites home. 

I decided to copy her, so I found giant-sized brown paper sacks at HEB and some tupperware containers that fit just perfect!  I just had to think of a little saying to put on the bag and...Voila!  I think they came out nicely!  Plus, it was a very fun project for the kids.  Even Ross decorated a few!


Of course, having a clean house is a must!  I always underestimate how long the simplest things will take to complete.  It doesn't help that I have three little monkeys running around undoing all of the hard work Jeremy and I do!  We've done some things throughout the past week that couldn't possibly get messed up by Thursday (windows, mirrors, etc), but I am saving most for Tuesday and Wednesday.  Even vaccuuming has to wait until Thursday, though.  I just know that Ross will manage to crush his goldfish into the living room carpet before noon!  This one is more of just taking deep breaths and being patient.  There's not a lot I can do too far ahead, and I just had to learn to be at peace with that.  I am super lucky- I have a husband who really does help clean well.  He definitely does his part!  :o)

Wow- I'm happy to have typed all of this up!  It makes me feel like I'm actually prepared for Thursday!  I can look back on this next year and make sure that I am just as prepared!  Of course, this could all also end up in a frantic, running-around-like-a-crazy-person Thanksgiving...we'll see.  Until then, I'm thankful for my little attempt at being organized and prepared- and for the family and friends who love me regardless of how it all turns out in the end!

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