A Crash Course in Hosting Your First Big Holiday Feast
Here’s a hot holiday tip: it’s actually fine to skip all the stuffy traditional stuff and do things your own way. In fact, making up your own rituals is part of the fun that comes with being the host of the big bash, especially if it’s just with your BFFs. But inviting more guests than you have chairs and not having access to the ~fancy~ china can feel a little daunting if it’s your first time doing the holidays your way.
To make the most of that Friendsgiving, Hanukkah feast, or any of the other upcoming holidays that are basically just an excuse to eat yourself into a food coma, we’ve got some practical IRL tips for the big day from event expert Jules Miller, founder of The Revelry Cooperative and seasoned dinner party pro—and some secret-weapon cleaning ideas for the aftermath.
Cook what you know
Now is actually not the time to attempt a culinary competition-worthy showstopper for the first time. “The number one thing is don’t try a crazy new convoluted recipe,” says Miller. “It’s not you showing off your culinary skills, it’s about warmth and hospitality. For one of my first dinner parties I made this browned butter pasta and each serving had to be topped with an individual egg, and it was a disaster.” Instead, plan a meal you’re confident you can cook—which doesn’t mean you have to cook an old-school feast.
“Don’t try a crazy new convoluted recipe. It’s not you showing off your culinary skills, it’s about warmth and hospitality.”
Commit to the assignment
Accept you’ll need at least half of the day before to prep. “I set the table the night before, and I cook as much as I can in advance. It gives you a chance to relax and sit for a moment before the guests arrive, so you can actually be there and enjoy spending time with them,” advises Miller. Crushing the prep game will also ensure a clean slate for your fete, without overflowing kitchen garbage and a sink full of dirty dishes. Spritzing the Scotch-Brite® One Step Disinfectant and Cleaner on and around your trash can disinfect to kill any germs from raw food prep and banish the ghost of funky smells that can sometimes linger even after you take out the bag.
Lean into your limitations
In a big city and a small apartment you might not have chairs or a full dining table—borrow chairs from your neighbor, cobble together a couple of tables, and make those mismatched plates part of the vibe. If all else fails? Miller says, “Make it a floor picnic! It’s ultimately about inviting people in and making them feel welcome however you can.” And if your culinary skills tap out at PB&J, tap the crowd. “Make one dish and have everyone bring their favorite side. You can still throw a really elegant potluck dinner party. Or if decor isn’t your thing, ask a design-y friend to come early and help set up.”
Have a game plan
“I make a timeline of when I’m going to start prepping what, working backward from dinner. If you live in an apartment you probably have minimal space and you might be using the same cookware over and over again, so you can’t cook everything at once anyway,” says Miller. She also recommends washing dishes as you go to avoid a major pile-up. The Scotch-Brite® Advanced Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Scrubbers have a unique texture that rinses clean and doesn’t trap food residue, so even things like gravy residue won’t trip you up.
Miller’s other best advice on this front? Know there’s gonna be some ~drama~ and disasters until you get the hang of things. “Over time it gets easier. The first time I cooked Thanksgiving the turkey was still raw, and dinner was five hours later than it should have been.” We all learn by doing! And think of it like a bad date—at least you’ll get a great story out of it.
Nail your warm welcome
If you’re serving a huge meal, Miller says not to worry about making apps—otherwise, people will fill up before the main event. Simmer spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves on the stove in a pan of water or apple cider to add a cozy scent, and make a help-yourself drinks station. “Have a non-alcoholic option, like a fun mocktail, so no one feels left out,” advises Miller.
Create a clean-up ritual
“I have guests clear their plates to the sink and help get everything to the kitchen. Then I wash the dishes right before bed, with music and the last glass of wine. It helps me wind down and then I wake up to a clean kitchen for cooking breakfast,” says Miller. And don’t forget your secret weapon, those Scotch-Brite® Advanced Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Scrubbers—the easy-sudsing texture and non-scratch scrubby surface make quick work of even your gnarliest pots and pans.
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Published at Tue, 16 Nov 2021 19:00:00 +0000