Christmas is the time for family and fun, however it can also be a time of overwhelm and stress, especially if you are hosting a big family Christmas complete with dinner, dessert, and caroling. However, if you ARE hosting, there are ways to have your work in the kitchen be manageable and even fun. When you include your spouse and family in the planning and preparation (especially in the kitchen), you will find that not only will it give you an opportunity to bond, but it will also spark some creativity in the kitchen. Here are 5 ways for you to include your spouse in the cooking and preparation process.
Make A Date of Meal Planning
When you have a big meal to prepare, there is nothing better than having someone to do it WITH you rather than standby and watch you. If you and your spouse are hosting the holidays, plan the meal together. Think of and pick at least 2 of each of your favorite dishes, and discuss how you will spice them up together. Have a glass of wine as you plan (but be careful about having too much if you have to use a knife later). Have your partner chop while you peel, or have them saute while you tenderize and spice. If you are normally the one who prepares dinner, having someone in the kitchen with you will make the preparation time fly by, and if you are generally a spectator, you may be surprised at how much fun you have being the 2nd in command. In the meanwhile, you might have some meaningful conversation.
If the both of you are a busy working couple (or if you are managing children), it’s a great idea to take the relay approach. One of you may do the shopping, after which the baton gets passed to the other who starts the chopping. Once the chopping is done, the initial preparation is complete, and the food is on the stove or in the oven, you all can take a breather, but remember to set the timer. As well, decide who is responsible for what so that everything still turns out delectable.
Use shared shopping lists
In this great age of technology, there are some fantastic smartphone apps that make the delegation of shopping as simple as two finger taps on a touch screen. No more written grocery lists, simply download a shared shopping list app for your iPhone, Android or blackberry, and have you husband (or wife) stop by the store on the way home from work to pick up the necessaries. If you forgot to tell them something for the list, simply add it and it automatically shows up. Shared shopping list make tag team shopping simple and even a bit more fun!
Invite other couples to come share in the preparation fun
While it is true, that too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the pot, at a big event, more help may be just the ticket. Consider having a pre-dinner setup party. Invite all of the couples in the family to come by an hour before dinner and assign them each tasks. Create a little friendly competition for fun. Perhaps one couple is on food, and the other is on dining room setup, while another couple is on creating ambience for the rest of the home. Maybe the prize is that the couple that gets the most compliments gets treated to a date night out by the other two couples. Whatever game you create, make it light and fun. Bringing other couples in, and creating fun and games takes away the attention from the enormity of preparing for such a large event, and promotes bonding both within and between couples.
Acknowledge, Acknowledge, Acknowledge!!!
Before, during, and after the meal and family event is over, acknowledge your partner for all of the work they did, the work they helped you do, and/or the work you all did together as a team. Create a little reward for yourself as a couple. Even if you are not planning a large event for the holidays, any time you host the responsibility can be very draining, and being acknowledged and even rewarded makes a huge difference.
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