Planning Ahead for Holiday Dinner

holiday kichen

With the holidays approaching, it’s time to devise a cooking plan that allows you to break out of the kitchen and spend some time with family and guests. After all hosting a holiday dinner can be a lot of work and as the chief cook you often don’t have the opportunity to relax.

Two tips for a holiday. First don’t be shy to ask guests to bring a side dish to share during the dinner. Many items can be easily supplied by a guest and require minimal time to prep for the table. These items are easy for guests to contribute and can take some of the details off your plate. When an invited guest asks what they can bring, be proactive and suggest something. Some ideas include dinner rolls, simple side dishes like cranberries, sides that can be cooked in a slow cooker, pies for desert and any easy to share appetizers. Make sure you communicate clearly when asking friends to bring their own dish. If not, you’ll inevitably end up with 5 pumpkin pies and no side dishes.

Another tip for busy holidays is to make selected items ahead of time. Most of these can be made a few days before the celebration and will just need to be heated in the oven or microwave shortly before your meal is served. Here are some ideas of some sides that can be made ahead of time.


If you are serving a turkey dinner stuffing is a must have. It can be easily made ahead and then heated before serving. If you need a recipe, check out our Cornbread stuffing or Traditional stuffing.


As American’s most every holiday meal includes potatoes. For most this is a mashed white potato. We have a great recipe for garlic mashed potatoes 

Sweet potatoes

There is always the debate yams or sweet potatoes? For many casseroles there is not much difference.  This easy recipe can be made in advance. If you prefer baking fresh sweet potatoes you will need to juggle oven time with your bird.


What would a holiday dinner be without cranberries? They can be a simple as opening a can of chilled berries, or creating a bach from scratch. Cranberry recipes can easily be prepared days before the dinner and stored in a sealed container in your refrigerator.  Check out this recipe to make your own.

Anything you can do to prep before the day of is a good idea. In addition to prepping sme sides you can chop up veggies, get together your turkey brine, and prep any pie crusts or desserts at least a day in advance. This let’s you spread out the work and allows you to enjoy yourself for more of the day.

And one final tip.  Don’t forget the cocktails. Just like having snacks on hand, I always like to have a variety of beverages to keep people happy while the cooking is still happening. Make sure you get a mix of beer, wine, and non alcoholic beverages so there’s something for everyone! 

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