1. Make a list
It may sound boring, but it will save you three hours and countless post-it notes. Include what you need to buy, and what you need to prep. A list can frame your day, telling you what you still need to do so that you’re organized.
2. Side dish shortcut
Blanch your vegetables (beans, cauliflower) in the morning until crunchy. Then pop them in an airtight container. This will use up one less burner during crunch time. Finish them off just before dinner.
3. Prep your garnishes
Little tasks like chopping up parsley and chives can sneak up on you, so do it ahead of time. Label them and wrap them up in a damp paper towel.
4. Dishware duty
Pick out your platters beforehand. This will ensure you have enough and you can assign specific items to an appropriate-sized dish.
5. Serve wine
Wine is both easy and delicious. If guests bring wine, you don’t have to serve their bottle if you’ve already planned out your food and wine pairings. Be a good host, and pour the first glass and then guests are on their own (but be sure someone still keeps an eye on this).
6. Choose a make-ahead dessert
Opt for a sweet that can be made earlier in the day or the day before, such as a cheesecake, fruit tart or plum pudding. For example a trifle tastes better the longer it sits and is required to be made beforehand. Plus, this is one less course you’ll have to make at the eleventh hour.
7. 10-minute baking
Make the cookie dough ahead of time. The hard part is making the dough and cleaning up the mess. Label each batch with a sticker (otherwise they can start to look alike) and place them in the freezer. Cookie dough will keep in the freezer for 3-4 months (be sure not to freeze baked cookies). You can store them by week, ensuring that the weeks closer to the holidays have bigger batches. Then, when you need a fresh batch, just pop them in the oven for 10 minutes. They will last in a tin for a week. Anna shared three of her newest