Cook Up A Storm This Holiday Season

The formal dinner party is officially dead but that doesn’t mean you can’t entertain in style.

For many years formal dinner parties were the toast of the town, an opportunity to impress your neighbours or gain approval from the boss. But thanks to changing opinions and COVID, dining at home without all the trimmings, has become increasingly popular.

These holidays it seems, most families will be ditching tradition to focus more on a free-flowing family dinner table filled with laughter, family stories and great food. 

The difficulty with a less structured event for gatherings such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year parties, is that you still have to be prepared and cater to individual needs.

The basic necessities of catering fro a crowd still come into effect; making sure you have having enough room, checking on what the fussy eaters can have, and making sure you have enough to go around, without having too much left-over. 

Here are some tips for entertaining the family with ease these holidays….

Time:

Finding the time and energy to prepare home-cooked meals can seem like a daunting task especially when its holiday season.

At the end of a busy day, ordering in might feel like the quickest, easiest option and with Uber Eats and many restaurants catering for COVID, this can be a real option for those who simply don’t have the time to cook.

To reduce stress, planning ahead of time and blocking out an entire day to prepare, clean the house, buy the food and cook what you can before the big day, delegating dishes or tasks to other family members, will certainly help you be the hostess with the mostest.

Skill: 
Cooking from home for a large crowd doesn't have to be complicated and you don't need 8 arms to create fabulous food!

Creating healthy and delicious meals doesn't mean spending hours in the kitchen combining hundreds of different ingredients or slaving following elaborate recipes.

In fact, simple meals are often the tastiest and it’s the taste that counts.

Focus on foods to share, platters that can be selected from instead of individual servings. There are also many tricks to making food look great, including creating height on the plate, cutting food horizontally, using contrasting colours and the right plates that make the food look amazing.

Budget:
Fine food is not a prerequisite to a successful dinner party and you don’t need to go to the expense of luxury.

You just need to work to a theme and select good quality ingredients.

For example, did you know how many beautiful meals you can make with potato?

Hundreds.

From mash to potato bake and to air fried potato wedges. The simplest foods can be used in so many different ways and recipes, don't feel like it's too expensive to feed the whole family when there are so many options out there.
Start by writing a list of the dishes you’d like to serve, making sure you have a couple of core ingredients that will go into a number of dishes and not trying to impress others - go with what you know are the family favourites, then perhaps add a few toppings or sauces and remember, some of the most simple products can look amazing on a shared plate or platter!

 Space:
We all love the idea of a big comfortable family home with a beautiful backyard and open air patio but let’s face it, there's never enough space when the family is over, not even with a patio! Using the entirety of your living space may be essential for packing in the whole family, but use it wisely and strategically.

Be careful not to block high traffic areas or detached people as a group stuck in a corner.

Do you have any oldies that need room for a wheel chair, or kids that just want to run around and explore? Making a mental check of who's coming and using the best space in your home can save a broken vase or a split bottle of red wine of your freshly cleaned carpet. In fact we suggest putting some of your cherished items away and pulling out the extra chairs. The most important factor is family, friendships and getting together, they won’t mind what they sit on if they are enjoying themselves.

Fussy Eaters:
This has got to be the biggest pain of holiday entertaining - We love them… Not!

There is always someone that just can't stomach the idea of brussel sprouts and the naive who’s just gone from vegetarian to full vegan, but there are also those with food allergies or intolerances and today you need to be forgiving and aware when it comes to dietary needs.
Making sure everyone, even the fussy eaters are enjoying their meal, is a great way to keep the peace at the dining table and ensure a successful holiday feast.

A great way to make sure there aren't any mishaps, is checking who's got any allergies, diet preferences and identifying who the fussy eaters are well in advance to your gathering.

Then make sure you have options available.

The best thing a bout more casual group catering is that you can simply let them know what’s what on the table and they can help themselves!

Keeping It Fresh:
Now that you have picked a theme, chosen recipes, know who's coming and what the requirements are, the house is clean and you have enough seats, it’s time to make sure you can easily keep everyone fed during the holidays.

Presentation is key. You can certainly make the table look beautiful, but more importantly, how can you reduce your time spent cleaning up, so you too can focus on the food and fun?

Using shared plates, platters and serving bowls that can easily be topped up, with guests helping themselves to more and choosing what they want will make your life simpler and you can avoid the rigmarole of dishing up courses or having the table look a mess.

Cheese board style platters and snack bowls are great for large groups. With minimal ingredients, you can make a platter with left-over condiments from the fridge. You can simply use chopping boards, but they aren't so great for platters with dips or items with liquid (no one likes an olive-juice soaked cracker.) Divided plates are ideal for mixing up all sorts of ingredients, from cheese and crackers to vegetables and dip or even desserts and treats. And, because they have different compartments, they can be great for fussy eaters too! Platters help you impress with the presentation and it’s easy to keep a platter full for longer once everyone has had a dig at it.

Snack Bowls:
Ideal for chips, pretzels, salsa, popcorn, guacamole and other sides

Condiment Bowls: 
Perfect for ketchup, hot sauce, olives, peppers, mustard, cranberry sauce etc

Hamburger/Serving Plate: 
Shared plate for 2-4 people, ideal for Mexican, seafood, traditional fare, Italian or Asian foods to share

Steak Plate/Large Platter: 
Fill this up with a range of foods to satisfy anyone

Dessert Plate/Single Serve: 
With a section for the pie and ice-cream this plate makes anything you serve look delicious

Make sure to order our ideal Platter Plate this thanksgiving! 

Check out our Goodness And Gosh Platter Products HERE

About the Author Kimberly Wilson

Kimberly has always been creative enjoying drama, science and the arts. Her hobbies include cooking, reading and visiting homewares stores to browse quality selections. Kimberly and her family spend most evenings enjoying alfresco dining and socialising with friends. She loves to entertain making fresh food, salads and sipping wine while John cooks up a great BBQ on the grill. Developing and writing about the Goodness & Gosh plates and bowls has become a true passion enabling her to share the products that she really loves and enjoy the quality presentation of the food they create.

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