Easter Sunday is just days away. Even the most seasoned hostesses can experience last-minute catastrophes when entertaining family and friends for the holidays, especially when one of those guests is Mama, who can be quite hard to please. If you’re worlds behind in organizing brunch or dinner, now’s not the time to panic. That will come much later when it’s time to impress company with dessert. For now, though, procrastinators can rejoice! Because these five easy tips will help you to throw together an Easter celebration your guests will definitely remember—for all the right reasons. Here's how you can cut a few corners to make it seem like you’ve been planning since March. Mama is sure to give her nod of approval.
1. Don’t go overboard with the menu.
It goes without saying: plan a menu that’s equal parts delicious and fast. Start with the guest list. If you’re having less than 10 people, you won’t need a lot of sides and desserts. For a larger gathering, make it buffet style instead of a sit-down dinner. By allowing everyone to serve themselves from one table, you'll only need one floral arrangement or Easter centerpiece. And, you can display the food from your most stylish plates, dessert stands, and containers. Also, feel free to embrace store-bought convenience items like dinner rolls, flowers, frozen vegetables, refrigerated pie dough, and the most important thing of all, ham. A spiral ham or pre-cooked Honey Baked Ham is a lifesaver since it only requires heating. As far as the sweet ending to your meal, keep dessert light and simple. Fresh parfaits, mini cupcakes, icebox pies, tartlets, and no-bake cheesecakes put the best of the season front and center, and they're not as complicated as Mama's layered cake.
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2. Try to cook as much as you can in advance.
To really enjoy some quality time with your family and friends, you’ll need to abandon the idea of cooking everything the day of. Although this seems pretty obvious, most people make the mistake of getting up early on Sunday to make everything all at once. But what if you’re hosting Easter brunch or an early holiday lunch? You can save yourself time, stress, and oven space with make-ahead dishes and appetizers that will only need reheating before serving.
3. If all else fails, turn dinner into a partial potluck.
Come from a big family or expecting a large crowd? Put on your delegating hat and assign dishes that complement the menu you’ve created. A potluck dinner is a simple way to have your family share in the grunt work of cooking, instead of them showing up empty-handed on an empty stomach. Since you’ve only got a few days left, you should handle the main course and dessert, and have guests bring the accompanying sides. Not only do you get a chance to try new recipes, but you also won’t get stuck with all the leftovers. For those extended family members whose culinary skills aren’t exactly up to snuff, no one will judge you for leaving them off the list or asking them to bring water and silverware.
4. Put a new twist on Mama's old recipes.
Southerners hate to stray away from family tradition, but there’s nothing wrong with mixing old and new. If Mama has a go-to deviled eggs recipe or signature glaze, incorporate her favorites into the menu and jazz them up with quick stir-ins, like Coca-Cola mixed with orange juice to make a sweet and zesty ham coating or an unexpected spicy seasoning sprinkled atop stuffed eggs. That way, you can serve your guests home-style classics with a little twist.
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5. Do, however, spend some time creating a signature drink.
Where you can really wow them is with drinks. No one will really expect for you to serve anything but standard beverages, so the best way to avoid them thinking this was a last-ditch effort on your part is by creating your own boozy cocktail or refreshing non-alcoholic punch recipe that incorporates the flavors of spring. Your guests will definitely drink to that!