Preparing for the holidays can be overwhelming. Hostesses can use all the help they can get. That’s why we asked the queen of hospitality, Martha Stewart, to share with us her best tips for celebrating the holidays stress-free.
Stewart, who grew up in New Jersey, offers these tips:
Trying to get everything done at the last minute with guests knocking at your door sparks serious stress. Instead, pace yourself. Think about what you can prepare in advance and make a checklist of all the ingredients you need. When it comes time to shop (ideally a few days before the big event), avoid the evening‐weekday rush and weekend crowds. The day of, set the table in the morning so that unforeseen events — a late meeting, a last‐minute stop at the wine cellar — don’t slow things down.
Right before your guests arrive, dim the lights, light some candles, and pour yourself a glass of wine.
The bar: Set up an inviting and convenient bar cart and include a signature cocktail.
Serve buffet style: When hosting a big gathering, it is the most practical, and setting a beautiful and impressive buffet is easier than you think. Bundle your flatware — fork, knife and spoon — in individual napkins; that way, each guest can pick it up and take it with them to their chair. Set up your buffet table a couple nights in advance of Thanksgiving. Label the placement of each dish with a post-it note. This way you won’t forgot anything that should go on the buffet and you ensure your table layout is ready in advance.
Add must-haves to your kitchen gadget collection: A microplane zester, balloon whisk, stainless steel measuring cups and spoons, potato masher, and garlic press make food prep so much faster and easier for both Thanksgiving feasts and everyday dinners.
Cut back on last‐minute grocery trips: And, stock up on baking ingredients early. Be sure you have the basics you’ll need most often: butter, flour, granulated and brown sugars, baking powder and soda, yeast, and vanilla extract.
Have a simple cookie dough in your repertoire: With the arrival of each holiday, you can make new treats by changing the mix‐ins, using such ingredients as zest, dried cherries, spices, or white chocolate and macadamia nuts.
Start wrapping presents early: Add ribbons, bows, and tags later. Don’t forget to label gifts with sticky notes so that you don’t forget who gets what. Unadorned boxes are stackable and, as a result, will be easy to store and transport.
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