Host a Holiday Dinner Without Losing Your Mind

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Are you planning a formal dinner for Easter? They can be a little daunting — there are a lot of moving parts to organize, from the menu to the table settings.

Here’s a stress-free plan that will allow you to actually hang out and relax during the gathering rather than running around like a chicken without a head.

The Breakdown

We?ve broken the big event down into a series of smaller tasks that you can do in increments of time between now and the big day. Yes, you can put on a lovely dinner and enjoy it too.

Start with a Menu

Map out what you will be serving before you do anything else. If you?re hosting Easter dinner for the first time and are unsure of what to cook, either ask a relative with some experience in that department or go online. There are so many great menus already mapped out for you on sites like Martha Stewart and AllRecipes.com. We found some menus that are both simple to prepare (think roast) and delicious and feel compelled to direct you to this website as well . They also break down a list of things to do to prepare the days leading up to dinner.

Take a Tableware Inventory

At least one week before your dinner, go through and make a list of the items that you will need. Start with linens. Do they need to be laundered and pressed (if you don?t have the time, drop them at the dry cleaners early in the week)? Do you have enough matching settings? If you?re coming up short, don?t fret. Eclectic works as long as it looks like you planned it to be eclectic! The secret to combining different pieces is to keep one color and one type of dinnerware (such as fine china, ironstone, stoneware or earthenware) predominant. Let the odd pieces shine as accents.

Make a Delegation Plan

You don?t have to do everything entirely by yourself. In fact, most of your guests would love to be able to lend a hand. Think through what you?d like to delegate. If you?re not sure, these things are easy to delegate as most people are happy to do them: Bring wine, make a side dish like a salad, bring an hors d?oeuvre such as cheese and crackers, or bring a dessert. If you tend to be a control freak, consider that by enlisting the help of others actually gives them the opportunity to participate more fully and give back to you. If you still think you?ll have trouble proactively asking for help, consider having the list handy so that when somebody asks, ?what can I do?? you will have an option or two for them to choose from.

Plan Activities and Meal Times for Kids

If you are hosting children, assign one person in your home to pull out age appropriate games and toys for them to play with. If you are single, ask a guest with small children for some suggestions. If you are going to eat at an odd time, you may want to consider feeding smaller children separately, and with a more basic selection of foods. There?s nothing quite like young kids with low blood sugar. Trust us, you want to avoid that at all costs.

Let Others Help You Clean Up

Enlist the help of your family for clean up after the dinner. Assign a task such as clear the table, start the coffee, set up for dessert, clear dessert, put the food away, load the dishwasher, wash the pans, take out the trash to others in your family. Delegate before the dinner so everyone is clear on their role and timing and knows they cannot fuss when asked to do their part. That way you?re not up until the wee hours cleaning it all up by yourself.

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