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BIG Family Dinners

 2014            LOOKING BACK

Thanksgiving                                                                       Christmas Eve____

10 guests                                                                                   17 guests

Dinner – potluck                                                                     TOTALLY ON ME, the hostess

Prep time – 3 days                                                                  3 hours, literally (We took an out-of-

town jaunt just before the event.)

Plan layout – on dry erase board, day by day                   In the hostess’ head : (

Pluses / Minuses_____________________________________________________

Table set                                                                                 not set

Water out                                                                                not out

Dinner on time                                                                        on time

Meal items organized                                                             simple menu

Plenty of food                                                                          short on veggies/ no salad

Plenty of rolls/ desserts

Guests happy                                                                           Guests happy – mostly

Host/Hostess happy                                                               Happy, but a little overwhelmed

 Tips for next large dinner:

An invitation would be nice.

Create Standard Operating Procedure for staging

Days  3 /  2  /  1

Include:

Clean up: counters, fridge, dishwasher (and bathrooms!)

Create seating / serving layouts

“Prepare-ahead” menu items, such as hors d’oeuvres, salads,  rolls, dessert, etc.

Menu: practical, practiced recipes/dishes

If hostess centered, invite and organize or hire help

If potluck, have menu items assigned and food layout clearly marked

Remember – more food is better than too little

1-2 hours prior: table settings out; ice in glasses; candles lit; background music loaded; outside lights on;

Greeting: have host /coat hangers / hors d’ oeuvres

If younger children will be at dinner, put thought into a pre-dinner activity and kid-friendly meal items.

Optional: Consider having children under 9-ish seated and fed while adults enjoy pre-dinner platters.

Follow the “children’s” dinner with an invitation to gather in an adjacent room where they can watch a 30-45 minute video program while the adults are served and dine. Children should have a chaperone in the room with them. Selecting the entertainment video can be tricky – entertaining enough to hold interest, appropriate for a broad range of young ages, not suspenseful, etc. Some videos have short, 10 -15 minute episodes which can be better than a longer unfolding story.

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