Holiday Tips To Keep Calm & Cook On!

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Whether you're a seasoned cook and veteran at throwing parties, or new to the art of entertaining, hosting family and friends can provoke a condition known as "Kitchen Performance Anxiety" (KPA).  Here are a number of practical ways to keep calm and avoid KPA so you can fully enjoy the occasion and being with your guests.

  1. Start planning your menu as far in advance as possible of your gathering...whether it's an intimate Sunday brunch, a big cocktail party or a traditional sit-down dinner.  Tweak your menu as you get closer to the day to make sure you're comfortable with what you've set out to make.  Don't be afraid to edit here and there based on how busy your schedule gets during the days leading up to the event.

  2. When selecting recipes, think like a chef and choose dishes with ingredients that focus on what's in season and at peak freshness. This approach to devising your menu will ensure the best tasting results even if you're a novice cook.  Fortunately, the holidays are all about celebrating what's in season such as pumpkin and acorn squash, sweet potatoes and crisp apples, cranberries and more.

  3. Seriously turn down the dial on stress by choosing a menu that you can make either completely or partly one or several days in advance.  This is a huge time saver that relieves a good deal of pressure to perform on the day of your parties.

  4. Before you start cooking and baking, take inventory of kitchen equipment to ensure you have everything that's called for in your recipes.  Are your pots, pans, cookie sheets, kitchen knives etc. in good working order?  If not, now's the time to shop with all the sales going on.

  5. To save time on preparing drinks when guess arrive, consider making pitchers of a signature cocktail in advance, along with a non alcoholic version. You can set up a tray in the kitchen for guests to help themselves. For an easy-to-prepare crowd pleaser that perfect for the holidays, try mulling fresh apple cider with allspice, cinnamon sticks, lemon slices and a splash of bourbon or rum

  6. Make lists of EVERYTHING that needs to be done, from shopping for ingredients to planning when the cooking or baking gets done, to the look of your table setting and background music.  You'll make your entertaining seriously simple for EVERY HOLIDAY when you have a "road map" of lists...a strategy that truly takes the stress out of pulling it all together.  

  7. Give yourself permission to round out your menu with store bought foods.  Make what you create best and leave a few items to the other experts, like the fabulous bakery or the scrumptious gourmet deli in town.

  8. Embrace offers from guests to help out!  Think ahead about the kinds of tasks that can be easily delegated so guests can feel useful without working too hard.  Being open to guests lending a hand puts everyone at ease.

  9. Make like a professional chef and "clean as you go."  KPA has no place in your kitchen when you've created calm in the midst of possible chaos. While you're preparing dishes, be mindful of wiping down counters and washing utensils and bowls as quickly as possible.

  10. Make enough food for leftovers to enjoy the next day as you relive your party and take the day off from cooking! 


(C) 2016 "Antoinette" Scognamiglio, Sales Associate with Coldwell Banker Realtors in Mountain Lakes. For more than a decade, "Antoinette" has specialized in the Morris County real estate market and brings market-leading innovation, creativity, experience, technology and analytics to help you buy or sell a home in Morris County. Contact her directly at 201-240-8699 for an appointment to discuss your housing needs, whether you are buying or selling a home.  Visit to search ALL AVAILABLE LISTINGS.