How to Prepare Your Home for the Big Family Dinner




Is it your year to  host the family for the Holidays?

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Don’t have a panic attack.  Here are some tips to make it as easy as possible:

1 De-clutter and Clean

  • When I began my research for this article, cleaning and de-cluttering was at the top of everyone’s list.  So give the entire house a good cleaning a week or 2 before the big event so you have time to focus on cooking the day before
  • Give your home a quick tidy the day before.

2 Bathrooms

  • Make sure the bathrooms are clean and that there are ample rolls of toilet paper.
  • Put away all you personal items, like medication, make-up, etc.

3 Kitchen

  •  Clean the fridge and make sure there is space for the food that guests will bring or for the food you make ahead of time.
  • Know what food the guests are bringing so everyone brings a different dish or everyone brings a dessert and no one brings an appetizer.
  • Save space in your fridge and store drinks outside in the snow.
  • Delegate cooking and preparation duties – Guests love to help! Also get help washing the dishes after dinner

4 Closet

  • Clear up space in the closet for jackets (although sometimes if there are too many jackets, you can put them in a bedroom)
  • Create space for shoes (again, if there are too many shoes, maybe arrange them neatly and out of the way in the foyer.

5 Dinner

  • Have guests RSVP at least a week in advance so you know how much food to make and how many table settings you need.
  • Find out which guests have dietary concerns so you can make sure that there is food for them (A cousin of mine is allergic to shell fish and at Chinese Weddings, something like 7 of 9 courses contains shellfish, poor guys has to sit and watch us eat)
  • On average per person will have 1 lb of turkey, 5 oz of Ham, 4 oz of mash potatoes to give you an idea on how much food you will need.
  • If you are preparing the big ticket items (ie the turkey), have your guests bring drinks, appetizers and dessert.
  • Set the table the day before – most of the time, extra tables will need to be set up. Plastic folding tables are great for things like this and are super easy to store afterwards.

6 Menu

  • Determine your menu early and create your grocery list.
  • If you are getting a turkey, buy it early and freeze it.  If you wait, they grocery store may run out.  Depending on the size of the turkey, it can take up to 5 days to defrost in the fridge.
  • Buy what you can early and the fresh ingredients a day or 2 before.
  • If you are making the dessert as well, bake them the day before and warm them up in the oven during dinner (i.e. Pies).  Cakes can be baked 2 days before and iced the day before.
  • A great idea for appetizers by Amy Clark ( is to make the appetizers a week or more earlier and freeze them.  Heat them up day of and there’s no difference in taste.  Find her easy recipes for appetizers here and side dishes here.  She has them for Thanksgiving, but they will work for the Christmas holidays as well.

7 Entertainment

  • Waiting for food sucks, especially for the little ones.  Set up a movie or games for your guests. Maybe a kid friendly movie for the little ones and another flick for the adults.
  • I buy little gifts for all my guests that are generic.  Wrap them up, put a little number on them and have them draw a gift for themselves.  It’s a fun little way to give them party favours and it’s nice to have more presents under the tree.

8 Decorating

  • That’s next week’s article – Holiday decorating ideas from our Kitchen Design Council – Aly Velji, Andrew Pike, Cheryl Torrenueva, Corey Klassen and Kevin Brooks.

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