Are You Stressed Before Having A Holiday Dinner?
We all love to eat and cook, but am I the only one who feels really stressed during the last two hours before guests arrive? No matter how organized I am with timeline, etc I'm still feeling it. How about you?
Mine's all family, and it's all I can do to keep them out of the kitchen. I know I'll have extra hands if needed for anything, so no, I don't stress about the meal.
Now, if I could get my SO to get the house presentable prior to people pulling in the driveway, I'd have no stress at all...
I *CAN'T* keep people out of the kitchen, and that's the source of my stress! My kitchen in Nashville had been opened up from the original plus a butler's pantry/breakfast nook, so my work triangle was on one side and the table where people gathered was on the other. That kitchen also did not do double duty as a hallway. In my current one, however, the route from the carport to the dining room goes right past the cooktop and wall oven, and the route to and from the back door and guest bathroom is in front of the refrigerator. And there is NO place for anyone to stand without being in my way! Now, I love company, and wish they could hang with me while I cook; that's a problem for all the aforementioned reasons, but there's another big one: except for carrying stuff into the dining room, I do not want anyone helping me. I know what I'm doing, and when I need to do it, and besides that there's no room for anyone else to chop stuff or peel potatoes or whatever. I do not "stress about the meal", because I know it's going to be just fine, and if some glitch does occur (like last year's raw-in-the-middle turkey!) we'll come up with a save (nuke it!). The closest I come to stressing is when my sister-in-law, an excellent cook, arrives with a dish that needs one of my ovens for about half an hour, and they're both booked solid! That she speaks hardly any English and I speak no French complicates matters as well …
Nope. I can do dinner for dozens and keep my cool. But that's only because I have decades of practice. Back in my younger days I was like you, writing up schedules days in advance and panicking if anything got off track.
I don't think I've ever encountered a Holiday meal stress that a properly chilled, 4 to 1 ratio of gin and dry vermouth couldn't put in its place. I suppose it's the fact that it's a celebratory event, a day off, a fun gathering. Sure, people hanging in my shadow asking "What is that?" or "Can't I help?" aren't welcome, but they merely qualify as distractions, not disasters. Really, what's the worst that can happen? An overcooked roast? Forgetting to let the butter come to room temperature? I've endured real stress and that ain't it.
Oh, and for whatever it's worth, I'm not much of a planner - definitely more of a broad brush strokes guy.
No you are not the only one. The adrenaline you feel prior to the guests arriving is normal. And the more you have the family over for holiday dinners, the easier it will become.
Also, the more you can get done the day before, the better.
If you've invited the right people and are constantly "checking" to determine whether the wine has spoiled, how can one be stressed?