Start with a three-ring binder filled with vinyl sheet protectors. The binder will accompany you when you shop so your time will be used efficiently. In the binder place lists for each of these categories:
- A calendar of events you will host or attend. Include plays, recitals, church services, practices, parties, school events, sports events, in other words, everything held during the season that involves you or family members.
- Christmas card list with addresses and a list of people and gifts to buy for each, including Christmas stocking stuffers.
- Decorations to put up and where they'll be displayed. Have a list of items you’ll need to buy.
- Copy the recipes you plan to make during the holidays. That way, as you shop, you’ll know what ingredients to pick up.
- Household and seasonal items to purchase, such as candles, cleaning products, storage containers, paper plates and napkins, gift wrap, and guest room and bathroom supplies.
- Pantry items such as canned goods, spices, and cake mixes and other items needed for baking, putting together last-minute meals and spur-of-the-moment entertaining.
Prepare for guests by cleaning, decorating and organizing before the season starts. Use professional services to reduce some of the workload, or organize one day for heavy cleaning and assign chores to each family member.
Organize cabinets and pantry, keeping like items together. Freshen the guest room and guest bath and stock with supplies. If you don’t have a separate space for guests, a pretty basket filled with fresh towels, shampoo and conditioner, small soaps, a few magazines and bottled water is nice to have tucked in a closet for when they arrive.
Once the house is fresh and clean, it’s time to decorate, aiming for ways to keep the task low-stress yet beautiful. For example, use a high quality sheet as a tablecloth or group monochromatic Christmas ornaments or trees on cake stands to decorate the dinner table.
For parties and special dinners with large guest lists, plan to make menu items in advance and use services provided by Hy-Vee caterers, bakers, meat specialists, and floral designers. You can still prepare your favorite recipes, but save time by purchasing ready-to-serve trays of fresh vegetables, shrimp and seafood or meats and cheese made by Hy-Vee.
Make guests feel welcome. You’re well-prepared and can be happy with what you have accomplished. Relax and enjoy the best part of the season: sharing time with people you love.
Stock up for the Holidays
Be prepared for busy days, unexpected drop-in guests or even a snowstorm. A well-stocked pantry means you’ll be prepared for whatever comes your way. Purchase extra staples such as flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and baking soda as well as such helpful basics as broth, evaporated or dry milk, spices and convenience foods.
Source: Hy-Vee Seasons Holiday 2006.