Lessons Learned – Christmas Dinner for Thirty

Candle Firelight

Nothing better to light a fire under our butts to get the house together than hosting Christmas for thirty family members!

I won’t lie. It was intense. In the midst of DIY project after project, I needed to plan a menu and figure out how I was going to seat everyone.

Lesson One – Plan the menu then tell people what to bring.

Potlucks are great except with no direction guest bring odds and ends instead of substantial additions to the menu. After going through all my shelter & food magazines and websites – I put together the following menu.

Roasted Beef Tenderloin w/ Basil-Curry Mayonnaise
Cauliflower & Brussels Sprout Gratin w/ Pine Nut-Breadcrumb Topping
Starch Dish
Potato Salad
Roasted Vegetables
Fruit or Green Salad

I asked guests to bring either a starch dish, salad, dessert or drinks. I was responsible for the beef tenderloin, gratin and bread. My mom took the ham and roasted vegetables.  I prepped the gratin on Christmas Eve and did the rest of the cooking Christmas morning.

Piece of cake. It went as smooth as butter. I could not believe it! Wow this is what planning ahead can do for you!!

Christmas 2009

Lesson Two – Use what you have.

Nate and I had hours to decorate after we finished setting up the great room. I luckily had a bunch of heirloom ornaments and inexpensive decorations from years past. I divided everything by color. The beachy, muted colors went in the front room while the great room got all the jewel tones. I kept silver accessories and white candles throughout the house to keep it all together.

People Placement

Lesson Three – Think about people placement.

Since we don’t have any permanent furniture in the dining area, I set up two 6 foot folding tables (borrowed from the parents) in an “L” shape for the buffet. This way the food stayed out of the kitchen and people could flow through it easily into either the great room, front room or back yard.

There was no way I was going to have a seated dinner for 30. The buffet allowed everyone to sit where they wanted.

Lesson Four – Buffet plates are awesome.

Under the guidance of my mother, I picked up 3 sets of buffet plates from Cost Plus. These were a life saver. Set of twelve nice, white buffet plates that I can easily store between parties for less than $20.00 each.  (I also had a coupon, so I got them at a even better price! Sign up for the Cost Plus Explorer program to get coupons.)

Pixel killing her Scratch Post

Lesson Five – At some point just stop and enjoy.

About 11am on Christmas Day, I called it quits. I had just hung the white curtains in our great room with Adie’s help and I threw in the towel. My list wasn’t done, but it was time to switch gears and celebrate the day.

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