Thursday, December 5, 2013

Monday Morning Quarterback - Holiday Edition

Homemade green bean casserole made absolutely from scratch - from the steamed veggies to the homemade cream of mushroom soup - yep, I did that on Thanksgiving.
 It was fabulous! At least, I thought so. Actually, several weight conscious guests - and of course, my picky kids -  didn't even give them a try.
I'm remembering that not-worth-it dish as I begin to write my holiday notes list that I will tuck the list in my holiday planner, to be used next year.

I got the idea for the planner from Kansas City blogger Mara Strom, of Kosher on a Budget. She advises frugalistas to Monday morning quarterback after holidays, in order to save money and time the following year. 

The idea is also perfect for those achy hosts who still love to entertain, and want to be very efficient.

On my list so far:

No fancy green veggies; people look to them as a way to save calories during a holiday meal.

No wrapping paper, ever.  Gift bags are not as cute, but cute enough - and they can be found cheaply these days at places like Target and Michael's. If I am dying to be creative, I'll draw some designs on a colored bag with glitter glue; that's it.

Do not serve seated dinner guests; everyone likes getting up and serving themselves from a nicely appointed, makeshift buffet table in the dining room. It's so much easier.

No last minute cleaning - except for a quick disinfecting of the bathroom.

Buy the crudités tray from Sam's Club - it's pretty good quality and reasonably priced - and then freshen some of the veggies up by slicing the carrots more thinly, trimming the ends of the pea pods, etc. Serve with fat free, spicy bean dip.

Make the cranberry sauce - so idiotically easy and it tastes so much better. Cranberries freeze.

Assign out some of the more labor intensive dishes, the ones that involve a lot of cleaning, paring or chopping produce :)

Always make pecan pie(s) and use light corn syrup, not dark. Don't bother making fancy versions of pumpkin pie. 

Have the phone numbers of guests handy, in case there has to be a very last minute cancellation due to illness. 

Adjust gift giving to what the person really wants. Gift cards are boring to give, but if chosen carefully, the recipient really loves them.

Sentimental favorites to remember each year: hot chocolate with marshmallows for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, heirloom menorah for Hannukah. Even if there is a big Hannukah gift, it's fun to open little ones each night.