Christmas Dinner without all the Fuss

So, you're planning Christmas dinner. It's one more item on your to-do list, and you are beginning to feel a little overwhelmed by everything you need to get done. Don't lose your Christmas spirit! Just slow down a bit and learn to keep things simple. Dinner does not have to be an extravagant affair in order to be a lovely meal that is enjoyable for all, and these ideas will help you keep things simpler.

Most people make far too much food, and even after sending home doggy bags with guests, still have more leftovers than two families can eat. Make less, and make fewer items. If the Jell-O salad is hardly touched each year, you don't have to continue making it. Also, make one vegetable instead of two, or make a mixed vegetable casserole instead of separate dishes.

Another good way to save time and effort is to use canned cranberry sauce (make sure it's the whole berry style instead of jellied). It's okay, really. Just put it in a pretty bowl, mix it up to get rid of the can shape, stir in a little orange marmalade, and garnish it with orange slices. It tastes great, it looks appealing, and it is much easier and less time consuming than making homemade cranberry sauce.

Try doctoring other store bought items as well instead of making everything from scratch. For example, you can purchase wonderful yeast rolls or loaves of bread in the freezer section. All you have to do is thaw, let rise for a couple of hours, and bake. To make it more like homemade, baste with butter before baking.

There is also a large selection of ready to use piecrusts available, and they are very good. Simply thaw, place the crust into your own pie pan instead of the little tin it comes in, add filling, and bake. Piecrusts usually come two to a package, so don't fret if you need to make double crust pies. Just thaw the extra crust, flatten it out, cut it into strips, and voila! Sprinkle the edges with sugar or cinnamon and press the edges with the end of a decorative spoon or your thumb to make it look homemade.

Other great time savers involve making clean up easier. Use a disposable foil roasting pan for the ham or turkey. The meat will be served on a platter anyway, so there is no harm in using disposable cookware. No one has to know. Foil pans are also great for cooking other items that cause stuck on messes, such as dressing and candied yams. After cooking, put the food into serving pieces and throw the mess away!

While no one would suggest using paper plates for Christmas dinner, there is nothing wrong with using them to serve dessert. You can find sturdy coated plates with attractive holiday designs. They work great. This will help you avoid having an extra load of dishes to wash. If you use matching napkins during dinner and smaller ones with the same design for dessert, doing so will tie everything together and make the paper plates fit right in.

You can make a wonderful holiday meal and still have enough energy left to enjoy it and to enjoy your guests, if you keep things simple.

Happy Holidays!

author: Sherry Holetzky

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