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Early Holiday Tips

Last post Thu, Nov 6 2008 4:12 PM by Edey. 12 replies.
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  • Wed, Oct 22 2008 11:25 AM

    • Edey
    • Top 25 Contributor
    • Joined on Mon, Sep 10 2007
    • Los Angeles County, CA
    • Posts 3,869

    Early Holiday Tips

    In Dollar Stretcher today:  Things You Can Do Now For a Simpler Christmas

    There are some good tips here for getting things done early.

    One thing I do that helps is dicing up the onions, celery and carrots that I will need for holiday cooking, and freezing them. For me, this is a major time saver. I usually need 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped onion per recipe, so I chop up several onions and bag them in 1 cup portions and put them in the freezer. I do the same with the other vegetables. Then when it comes time for cooking it is so easy to just grab a bag and let it defrost and get to cooking.

    Anything that I can do to make the cooking and serving easier I do. For Thanksgiving last year I cooked my stuffed turkey a day ahead in my large turkey roaster, saved the broth and took all the meat off the bones and put it in the fridge. Then the next day I put the meat in a large oval crock pot, poured some of the broth over the meat and let it get hot. It turned out to be the most moist, best tasting turkey we ever had. When cooking the turkey I had set on top of a bed of sliced onion, carrots and celery, added a little broth in the bottom,  set it at the highest setting on the roaster (450° or 500°, not sure) and let it cook for 1 hour, then lowered the temperature to 325°.

    My do ahead schedule is something like this: pies and mashed potatoes on Tuesday, turkey, stuffing and rolls on Wednesday; that leaves candied sweet potatoes and stir-fried green beans and gravy to be made for Thursday. In addition to the turkey in a crockpot, I also put the mashed potatoes and the stuffing in crocks. It all made for a very easy holiday. Edey

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  • Wed, Oct 22 2008 11:31 AM In reply to

    • Pat
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Tue, Mar 6 2007
    • Colorado
    • Posts 14,463

    Re: Early Holiday Tips

     Chopping and freezing onions and celery ahead of time makes good sense! I usually make dinner rolls a day or two before, then just warm them up for dinner. I make pies, cakes and other desserts at least one day and usually two days ahead of time. The stuffing for the turkey is made the night before and ready to go first thing in the morning. 

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  • Wed, Oct 22 2008 12:10 PM In reply to

    Re: Early Holiday Tips

    In terms of preparing food, I usually take a large veggie tray to the family meals. I can chop the broccoli, cauliflower and celery a few days ahead and mix the dip a day or two ahead of time. I assemble the tray the day or night before and wrap it well. I then can just grab my trays and dip and go.

    My trays are pretty large and serve about 20. I use carrots, pickles (bread and butter and spicy dill), celery, broccoli, cauliflower, black olives, zucchini slices, some sort of pepper and something else that I find on sale (last year, pickled baby corn, another year, cherry tomatoes). I like color and variety. I usually just make a sour cream or cream cheese dip. I think veggies are good to put out to eat before, during and after dinner. And healthy!

    My mother in law makes the mashed potatoes 2 days ahead of time and keeps it chilled in the fridge. She then puts them in the crock pot in the morning and lets the potatoes warm all day on low. She makes the dressing the day before. She does the turkey and gravy on the holiday. She buys rolls and desserts (or my SIL or I try to bring those but she always has them anyway).

    My mom makes pies a couple of days ahead and bakes rolls the day before. I usually do a casserole of some sort and have that ready the day before, too. Last year was corn casserole, year before green bean casserole. This year, I may try something different but that I can assemble before and then just bake. One year I did glazed carrots in the crock pot and they turned out great.

  • Thu, Oct 23 2008 12:08 PM In reply to

    Re: Early Holiday Tips

    You girls have given me some great ideas!  I've bought frozen chopped onions and things like that before, but for some reason never made them myself (duh!).  I just bought onions on sale, so I think I'll get to chopping them up and freezing this weekend.

    This is the time of year when I start making up cookie doughs that freeze well, like chocolate chip.  This takes a lot of work out of baking the Christmas cookies when I can just pull dough out to thaw and start loading up the cookie sheets to go in the oven.  I also like to freeze rounds of pie crust since we only have the small freezer above our fridge, I'd freeze whole pies if I could!

    I like to make up trays of baked appetizers, like sausage cheese balls.  I can just pull them out and stick them in the oven for a quick get together around the holidays, or if someone unexpected drops by.  I've had good luck freezing cream cheese-based dips and nut-covered cheese balls, too.

    I'll buy candy now and after Halloween when its on sale.  Non-Halloween themed candy will still be good by the time Christmas rolls around for stocking stuffers, to go in a treat basket, and of course to fill the coffee table candy dish.  Miniture chocolate bars can be chunked up to make chocolate chunk cookies, melted to coat things, and grated over cakes and fancy desserts.  They also melt down to make good cocoa!

     I plan to get started on Christmas decorating crafts soon, that way they'll be ready to go the day after Christmas.  I bought my cards last year, so its time to start addressing them and updating the address list for people who have moved.  This is normally when I get my Christmas wrap, bows, gift bags, tissue paper, tape & scissors gathered together in one spot (normally the office closet) so I don't have to hunt things down when its time to wrap presents.  I love to wrap, so I normally sit down with my store bags of gifts and wrap everything at once while watching a Christmas movie.  But for people who don't like it, wrapping as you buy seems to be the way to go.

     For Thanksgiving cooking, I like to make my pies a day or so ahead.  I'll make the stuffing the night before, so in the morning I just have to rinse & stuff the bird before putting it in the oven.  I think I'll try making and freezing dinner rolls some weekend soon, so I can pull them out to thaw and then give them a quick warming in the oven. I would make my potatoes ahead, but I sit down at the coffee table with a pot of water, my trusty pairing knife and a "garbage" plastic bag and peel while I watch the Macy's Day Parade.   Its just tradition for me I guess. Wink 

  • Thu, Oct 23 2008 1:17 PM In reply to

    Re: Early Holiday Tips

     I have started buying extra baking supplies, although they keep getting used up!  Yesterday dd made molasses cookies with an almond glaze.

    Some I hid in the pantry, extra chocobake, vanilla, molasses,  cinnamon imperials, and 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk.  I'll continue to go down the baking aisle when I am doing a bigger shop, and picking up a few extra items.  I have one expensive recipe, nut goodie bars, I should pull that out and start buying those things.   I should also start next month buying things for dh's spinach cheese pies, wrapped in phyllo. 

    I still don't know the plan for Thanksgiving.   

    Beginning Debt Slayer

  • Tue, Oct 28 2008 12:41 PM In reply to

    • sparkle
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Jul 10 2008
    • Posts 46

    Re: Early Holiday Tips

    On another note how do you get the over rambunctious nephews to help clean up toys before they go and how not be so darn roudy the whole time?

  • Tue, Oct 28 2008 2:39 PM In reply to

    • leigh10
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Sat, Aug 11 2007
    • Mississippi
    • Posts 81

    Re: Early Holiday Tips

    My grandmother used to cook for the entire week before Christmas and freeze stuff.  It all tasted fresh on Christmas Day.  She'd always make a couple of fruitcakes too and they were so good.  I always wondered why people made fun of fruitcake until I tasted a store bought one.  Hers were nothing like that. 

    I cook a meal on Christmas Eve day, but it's for just a few of us so it's nothing fancy.  However, I'm planning my menu now. 

  • Tue, Oct 28 2008 2:45 PM In reply to

    • leigh10
    • Top 500 Contributor
    • Joined on Sat, Aug 11 2007
    • Mississippi
    • Posts 81

    Re: Early Holiday Tips


    I love to wrap gifts too.  I usually make 2-3 sessions out of it while listening to Christmas music.  I always watch "A Christmas Story" while I put up the tree. 

  • Thu, Nov 6 2008 12:22 AM In reply to

    Re: Early Holiday Tips

    I've started doubling up when I cook dinner - one half of the meal is for immediate consumption, the other half is being stored in the freezer for later use!  December is often pretty hectic for us, and in the past, we've spent way too much money on fast food!  I'm trying to avoid that this year!

    Philippians 4:19

    And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus
  • Thu, Nov 6 2008 10:21 AM In reply to

    Re: Early Holiday Tips

    I always watch "A Christmas Story" while I put up the tree.

    We do the opposite, LOL! We normally listen to Christmas music while we put up the tree (and I listen to it while I'm doing the Christmas baking, which is a several weekend/baking session affair).  DB can't stand 'A Christmas Story' - he's really not a big movie person anyway, and he's seen it countless times.  On the other hand I love it, so I normally watch it while I'm wrapping since he's banned from the room then anyway. Smile

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