Have you ever had a holiday meal fall apart before you reach the table or while you’re seated around it? You’re spending extra grocery money on ingredients for holiday meals. You’re putting in extra time and energy to make it memorable. You’re planning and preparing for delicious food and fellowship around the table, but you can’t control everything. The unexpected is bound to occur: a broken stove, a dropped tray, a mixed up ingredient. You will be tempted to melt down, but you’ll be so sorry if you do! You can’t control everything, but you can make a difference in your holiday table. What can you do to serve stress-free family meals?
“but through love serve one another,” (Galatians 5:13b)
Let’s keep this simple, because you have a lot to do this week and so do I. I’m going to share 3 ingredients I’ve found to be keys to serving stress-free family meals on special days and ordinary days. If I prepare for peace, it’s more likely to happen.
3 ingredients for serving stress-free family meals
Set the table early
This not only makes your meal easier, but seeing the table set changes the attitudes coming to dinner. I begin to anticipate serving those who will gather, and my family begins to look forward to a sweet time together. Guests know you’ve prepared for them and the shared meal will be special. When you’re juggling dishes and searching for silverware as guests look on, they feel your stress. You aren’t available to engage guests, if you’re still getting ready for the meal. Show them they are significant and their time in your home is important. Whether the night before or the morning of, set your table early. Prepare your heart and table in advance.
Set out the utensils
By choosing serving dishes and utensils early, you mentally review what you’re serving, creating a visual checklist. “Hmmm … what’s that bowl for …? Oh, I forgot the jello salad!” This exercise helps you take stock of your menu and prevents last minute chaos. Choose slotted spoons, spatulas, and meat forks early. Fight the frenzy of getting everything to the table in a timely way by preparing utensils in advance. This simple exercise demonstrates to your household that the work of making a meal is not haphazard or random, but the fruit of diligence.
Set out the details
Details, details … It’s easy to let them slip in the stress of extra people, food, and events. When you set the table and set out serving pieces, put salt and pepper in position and place a covered butter dish on the table. Soft butter only helps you to take advantage of warm food, whether it’s a roll from a package or your grandma’s secret recipe. If you’re serving condiments, put them in covered dishes on the table or in the fridge. Plan for a peaceful meal. Details make the difference between “putting food on the table” and “serving a meal to loved ones.”
When a table is thoughtfully prepared, guests know they’re anticipated and welcome. Whether paper or china, such a setting brings out our best. Manners are more gentle and appreciation more genuine when we’re invited to a table set with care. As you prepare, pray for your guests and conversations, and give thanks for the food, rich or poor. A simple meal has the potential to make those around the table feel like royalty.
Let’s serve our loved ones well!
And so that I may serve my dear people well, I’m “off” until next week! I’ll be back just before we turn the calendar to 2015 to share an invitation with you for the new year.
Blessed Christmas to you, friends!