(BPT) - Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, 'People are always getting ready to live but never living.' This year as thousands of details that surround holiday gatherings threaten to ruin your holiday memories, take a few moments and think about how much nicer it would be if you could be enjoying the special moments with your family and friends. Instead each year you spend countless hours in the kitchen, slaving over a hot stove while your guests enjoy themselves in the next room. Imagine if you could spend more time with them, sharing stories and enjoying their company.
It can be done. It might be time to tweak some traditions, take a few shortcuts and rethink your personal holiday entertaining rules. There are many options to help you entertain in style without all the hassle (and you'll still get rave reviews). Planning ahead can help you reduce stress and give you back your holidays. Consider these five easy steps to simplify holiday entertaining:
1. Fill your freezer with tasty treats to pull out at a moment's notice. Premade appetizers, entrees, sides and desserts that you can thaw, bake and serve are lifesavers during the holiday season. Many companies like Kansas City Steak Company make it easy for you to have tasty holiday meals with minimal effort and maximum flavor. They do all the preparation; you get the glory.
How would your guests enjoy this menu? Caramelized onion and feta pastry kisses, tender Chateaubriand, creamy mashed potatoes with porcini mushrooms and a chocolate hazelnut ganache cake for dessert. Or how about a delectable menu of baby brie bites with cranberry chutney, paired with Beef Wellington, twice baked potatoes and a sour cherry peach tart? It will look like you spent days preparing this feast and you'll be the only one to know it took a few clicks, a look in your freezer that morning and a few minutes to get the meal on the table.
2. Rethink traditions. Just because your mother and her mother spent two days preparing the Thanksgiving turkey dinner, it's okay to give yourself permission to create new traditions that fit your lifestyle while tempting the taste buds of the special people in your life. Want to change things up? How about a Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Ham for Thanksgiving this year? Using a fully cooked, slow-smoked ham as the star attraction from the traditional turkey dinner will cut your preparation time on Thanksgiving by hours - and you'll still have plenty of leftovers to enjoy after a day of bargain hunting on Black Friday.
3. Use free Web guides to pair the perfect wine with your meal. If you want to create the perfect wine pairing for your holiday meal, Kansas City Steak Company has a great guide. They've done all the work for you, so relax and enjoy the compliments you'll receive for making a wise decision when it comes to the perfect palate pleasers.
4. Rent holiday entertainment items. There's no need to store holiday entertaining items you may only use once a year. Many companies rent holiday serving items, china, wine glasses, tablecloths and more. The items come ready to use and when you're finished with them, you simply send them back. No need to worry about storage space or washing linens.
5. Think potluck for entertaining. People are more than willing to bring a dish to pass for holiday gatherings. A simple request, like: 'We're going to try something new this year. I'd like you to bring your favorite appetizer, side dish, dessert, etc. I'll provide the roast (of your choice) and beverages.' Few things are more social than a potluck meal. This allows you to get together with your favorite people without doing all the work yourself. Do a little planning up front and you'll have a wonderful meal where everyone can take a bow.
So this year, break some rules and live your holidays to the fullest. Just remember the words of the late Katherine Hepburn, 'If you obey all the rules, you'll miss all the fun.' Happy holidays.