Wednesday, January 9, 2013


This year Titus and I had the pleasure of hosting his parents and siblings for Christmas.  His parents closed on their house on December 21, so we were pretty much the only family members with a home for the holidays.  This contributed to why I was completely absent from blogging while trying to make the house presentable to the world along with massive holiday planning.

I now present a big old post about how we made it through our very first holiday hosting.  (I swear there are pictures further down).

The only way I make it through life is by planning.  I'm not totally sure how non planners make it through life, but it probably isn't very well, and they probably rely on planners a lot more than they know.

Step one to Christmas planning was to make a food schedule since Christmas is about baby Jesus and food.  I personally made a spreadsheet listing the foods for each meal of the day, any special events taking place that day, and the participants.  My schedule looks like so:

The Christmas Eve and Christmas Day menus were created before Thanksgiving which gave everyone plenty of time to plan ahead to make their respective food items if they chose to do so.

I then made a giant list of every meal we would be eating throughout the weekend and holiday.  Under each item being made I listed all the ingredients needed to make that item.  After that list was complete I made a separate sorted list of all the items needed sorted by grocery section, i.e. produce, frozen, etc.  I know this sounds crazy to some of you, but it is smart so don't laugh at me.

Here is an example exerpt from my nearly one page twelve point font single spaced grocery list:

2 onions
Miscellaneous Veggies for veggie pizza
1 lg onion-diced
7.5lbs/14 Large Potatoes
8 Granny Smith Apples
Wholly Guacamole

2 Beanless Chili
4 15 oz Cans Sweet potatoes
1 small can chopped black olives
2 C Drained mandarin oranges

I also spent most of November and December clipping coupons for Christmas since coupons become scarce right before Christmas to punish non planners.

I made a separate spreadsheet for tasks I needed to due leading up to the weekend and during the weekend to make sure I got everything done in time.  Here is what that schedule looked like:

As you can see I list some ToDo items, chores, errands, events, and meals.  This schedule helped me to not feel like I didn't have enough time to get everything done.  It is amazing how much less overwhelmed you can feel after making a schedule.  Plus it makes you cooler.

Other than Christmas Eve Hors d'oeuvres and Christmas Day dinner, the only other actual meal I prepared was wild rice soup.  I used my mom's super secret recipe and managed to not ruin it even though I used healthy condensed soup much to my mother's dismay.  Titus' family was probably enirely bored of my low sodium meals by the time they left.

I made the soup on Christmas Eve and it was a huge mistake, since it took FOREVER and I ended up not having enough time to make all the other items I wanted to complete before church.  My apple pie was started around 11:30pm which is far past my bedtime.  Luckily, we had planned ahead and Titus and I had already pealed and sliced the apples for freezing days before hand.

Somehow, most of the Hors d'oeuvres worked out.  Titus' dad also contributed some Oyster Stew which is a weird Norwegian tradition they have.  Also, it smells weird.  And the oysters have weird strings.    

Right before we started eating, I someone managed to spill hot florescent red candle wax all over myself and the upstairs carpet.  It was a real tragedy, which required a moment alone in my bedroom to remind myself the day was about baby Jesus.  I wish I had a picture.  Titus heroically fixed the disaster with an iron and a paper towel after a few Google searches.

After eating, we went upstairs to open tons of presents by the tree.  Yes, that is a menorah by Buddy the dog.  No we are not Jewish. 

Christmas Day went far better than Christmas Eve had.  I got up around 8am to get everything ready for guests.  I set out hot chocolate, water, and cider for before the meal, as well as some left over cheese and crackers from Christmas Eve.

We set the main table for eight people and a second small square table for three additional people.

Somehow none of the food started on fire, or was disastrously destroyed.  I did, however, forget to add the sour cream to the mashed spuds, and added orange juice concentrate instead of orange juice to the sweet potatoes, but they were still mostly edible.  The morning was considerably less rushed than the previous day which was a huge relief.

We had an amazing time hanging out with Titus' family and his cousins, aunt, and uncle.  My two sisters-in-law and I spent much of the time after cleanup playing old school Mario brothers which was reminiscent of my holidays back home where we would play Mario at my Granny's house. 

Everyone left Christmas Day evening and we were exhausted.  Titus and I were very happy we had taken the day after Christmas off for recovery because it was much needed, mostly for my brain.

It also gave us plenty of time to try and beat Mario.

I learned many things during my first hosting experience.  The best advise I have is to plan ahead.  That being said, something will probably force your plans to change, so be flexible.  Remember why you are celebrating the holiday, and don't let unrelated things get in the way of it (like bright red candle wax).  Take charge of your kitchen regardless of who you are hosting, otherwise things could get crazy.

Oh don't worry my super late Christmas updates aren't over yet.  I'll have one more from Christmas with my family, then I will finally move on.

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