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Dec 9, 2012 03:34 PM

Family starts to come in 8 days/please critique food and add ideas

I am ecstatic because our six kids, 5 spouses and 7 grandchildren will be together for Christmas. It doesn't happen too often. We're planning a family photo and lots of good times and eats. There will be 20 of us with 11 staying at our house, and four staying with my daughter and her family of 5. My husband is emphatic about bringing in food as much as possible and eating out so food preparations are less than usual. Usually it's a lot of work, even with lower numbers and help from the adults.

The first couple arrives one week before Christmas, 8 days from now. Two days later my son and grandson arrive early afternoon. The next day my daughter and family arrive, 2 adults, 3 grade school kids. Next day is Sat., and another son and wife will be arriving by car. Sunday, a daughter in law arrives just in time for the family photo.

Ten adults and children leave Christmas day. I'm planning an ongoing breakfast/brunch/lunch.

We may go out to eat the first day of company. This couple aren't likely to eat much at the house the first few days. Food I want to serve for the next visitors Thursday will be tortilla chicken soup from a local diner or taco hot dish that is easy to make. I'll have on hand deli beef, summer sausage, cheeses, good breads and some vegie dish that can be done ahead or bought; items for snacking: cheese sticks, yogurt, fruit.

By next day with 5 more coming, I have a real good chicken pasta salad that should work well and will think of something else to add, maybe a sandwich tray from a local deli. I imagine 3-4 from the local family will join us.

People usually make their own breakfasts with frozen waffles, cereal, etc. I have a good pancake recipe. Lunch is catch as catch can with leftovers and eating lunch out.

By Saturday, another couple will join us. There will probably be about 15 of us. I have some frozen pulled pork I made, and pulled beef from the local meat market. Maybe chips with this. Need some vegie dish here to balance the meat.

We're counting on our adult children helping and adding in a dish or two here and there. Or my daughter may have us over one evening. Some friends with smaller numbers have each of them do a meal. Not sure how we'd do that here. For this time, we'll have a hand in all the meals.

When Sunday rolls around, we're planning to order a pizza, and I can make a big salad for 20.

For our biggest event, Christmas Eve, my husband wants, and I'm agreeable, to have appetizers instead of a regular meal. I have a ham and plan to have small buns to use for sliders. For this amount of people, I read to have about 10 appetizers, with about 3-4 warm ones. One of the sons-in-law will probably offer to make meat and cheese roll-ups. I'd like some seafood, maybe shrimp; what I'd really like would be a seafood stew served in little shot glasses, but I haven't been able to experiment, and I have bad luck trying out new recipes on company. Mac and cheese in muffin size would be good for the kids. We have a group with special needs that do a good job with platters. I'll get a fruit platter and vegie pizza or vegies and dip. I have a plate of nuts and dried fruits from Russ & Daughters that will be nice to add to the mix.

I'm going to church cookie and candy sales. We'll have a nice treat platter from that on Christmas Eve. Someone will probably make or buy a regular dessert. I have a cookie specialty I traditionally make. Hope i can find the time. I know lasagna would be good somewhere in the mix, but I might not have time. Would one meat and one vegie lasagna (9x13) work for 20?

Christmas morning should fall into place with quiches and egg bakes, muffins and fruit; maybe sausages.

Haven't given much thought to beverages, but we'll have plenty of coffee, milk, juice, soda, wine, beer, as well as non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks.

If you chowhounders can make it through reading this long post, I'd welcome any suggestions. Thanks for sharing in my excitement.

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  1. serve a slaw and braised greens or green beans with the pulled pork.

    for Christmas Eve dinner, are you doing buffet-style? if so, i'd forget about the seafood stew and consider a cold/room temperature seafood dish instead. you don't want that stuff sitting over a warmer for a long time because the seafood with be overcooked & rubbery. maybe crab salad in endive boats, shrimp salad in lettuce cups, shrimp cocktail, or even a wam crab dip...?

    yes, you'll need two 9x13 lasagnas for a group that size if it's the main course, so one meat & one veg is perfect. hopefully you have space in the freezer - go ahead and assemble them now, wrap well, and freeze. just transfer them to the refrigerator to thaw the night before, and bake fresh for dinner.

    it sounds like you've thought this through pretty well, and i'm sure everyone will be helpful and somewhat self-sufficient, so don't worry about it too much. have a wonderful visit!

    1 Reply
    1. Two 9 x 13 pans of lasagna is perfect for your crowd; prep and freeze now and pull out to bake later. To go with, I suggest a salad with a few assorted dressings and some garlic bread; that's all you need for this meal.

      If you want to do some type of seafood for Christmas eve, seafood stuffed shells or manicotti is nice or Ina Garten's roasted shrimp cocktail which can be served at room temp or in a chafer. I'm pretty sure your food won't be sitting around for long so I wouldn't worry about it getting rubbery or overcooked. Seafood Gumbo would be great for your crowd and it holds well.

      One of the things I love doing is making a fresh & pickled veggie tray; I got into pickling this summer and it's easy to do ahead refrigerator pickles now that'll perfect when your company comes. I did carrot, okra, pickled whole green beans and I even pickled seedless red grapes with cinnamon stick, fresh ginger, black pepper pods and star anise. I pickled each item individually & refrigerated them then two weeks later made up a tray of everything plus some fresh veggies for a family event. The grapes were served aside a smoked gouda & cream cheese block rolled in fresh parsley which was eaten on fresh oven crostini & topped with those grapes. So good & easy! I got raves over this.

      For your pizza night, why not consider making a roasted veggie salad with perhaps some butternut squash, onions, a little crispy bacon to garnish....

      Love your pulled pork idea; I'd serve with slaw, some baked beans or black beans, and a potato salad...maybe even a warm German potato salad.

      Also love the app idea for Christmas Eve, a lot of people are doing this these days...there are tons of recipes for appetizers on BonAppetit or Food & Wine website. Good luck and have fun!

      1. I think it all sounds wonderful. My only thought/suggestion is to make sure to have enough quantity for the more minor meals that you are not going to plan as formal meals - breakfast/lunch when not a planned group event. People will sometimes eat more than you expect. In my family people will eat a lot of bread and cheese and fruit and crackers and veggies and hummus or dip just in the course of a day. Don't hesitate to keep a grocery list running and ask people to make a quick trip.

        1. wow! what fun; i second the suggestion of keeping a grocery list and delegate it as needed; i might suggest that yummy broccli salad with rasins and bacon for the bbq or the super easy bok choy/napa cabbage salad; i am a big fan of the honey baked sliced turkey breast when family coming; good to have for sandwiches or to add to your buffet; deviled eggs easy and filling and easy to delegate (buffet), also might consider a fruit bowl (slicing/prepping can be delegated - and leftovers good for Christmas morning); hope it goes well!

          1. Lots of great advice..I would add..
            Enchiladas with beans/rice
            Shredded pork sliders in crock pot with Cole slaw
            Bake ham and turkey
            Chili with cornbread
            Chicken tenders for the kids
            Fried chicken with homemade Mac n'cheese
            Costco has the 3pk loaves of breakfast goodies..cranberry/lemon
            Granola/yogurt fruit..
            Costco is a great place to load up.

            What a blast being with all your family..