Since we moved into our new house, it’s become family holiday central. We have family travel in for Thanksgiving and Christmas each year for the big family meal. Some family members stay for the holiday weekend while others just come for the day. When everyone is present, we have 20+ adults and children in the house.
It’s great fun but it can also be an awful lot of work. We have found some tips, tricks, and products that help ease the work. **This post contains affiliate links.**
Keeping a good headcount is a big help. Make sure everyone is aware of what time the meal begins. Apps like GroupMe or even a regular group text is useful for group communication. A group communication tool is also helpful for making announcements or asking for help. We use it to find out what food items everyone wants to bring and to ask people if they can loan specific items (like folding chairs).
Our big meal is served buffet style. We have folding tables and chairs tucked away just for the holidays (and maybe for a garage sale). These are incredibly useful, but if you don’t have enough and don’t want to buy them, put the call out to your guests. Usually someone has an extra folding table tucked away.
I love festive holiday tablecloths. We’ve picked these up on sale after the holiday at stores and at garage sales. Since they are inexpensive, I don’t feel bad if the tablecloth gets ruined. Something always spills.
Food Prep and Cleanup:
A staple of our holiday meal is the Chicken and Dressing. We make it from scratch and we’ve found that it’s easier if you make it ahead of time. The weekend before Thanksgiving, we mix up the giant portions, load it in disposable foil pans and freeze it, uncooked. Then we thaw it in the fridge the night before and fully cook it on the big day.
Mashed potatoes are great on the table but they don’t have to take a ton of time. There are so many easy shortcuts like frozen Steam n’ Mash potatoes or even prepared mashed potatoes. However you make them, you can prepare them ahead of time and keep them, or other vegetables, warm in a lined crock pot. With a lot of people coming to the party, take a shortcut and spend your prep time in better ways.
Did you know you can use the crock pot to make your hot rolls, too?
Using crock pots and crock pot liners to keep food warm is a big help if you are hosting a big buffet. I love crock pot liners because I don’t have to spend hours scrubbing out the crock pot after the party.
Using a big counter top roaster can free up oven space and is a great way to cook your turkey or ham. They even sell liners for roasters!
We order a smoked turkey from a local BBQ restaurant each year. It’s fully cooked but still has to be heated up to the proper temperature. Plan hour oven time accordingly.
While you may have visions of beautiful crystal and shiny cutlery laid out on a formal tablescape, that ends up creating a lot of dishes. Washing up dishes for 5 hours after all of the festivities is not my idea of fun. For Big holidays we use disposable plates, cups, and cutlery. There are lots of environmentally friendly options out there.
Have lots of kids (or kids at heart) at your holiday party? Some classic games offer entertainment that can make lots of fun and fond memories. Spice it up with some fun prizes ranging from gift cards to fun little holiday toys.
I hope these holiday helper ideas make your entertaining easier and help you save time that can be spent better making memories.