Pre-cook: Try to choose as many make-ahead recipes as possible. If you can make it two weeks before and freeze it (this works great with pies, mac and cheese, cookie dough), side dishes are good to freeze ahead as well like homemade cranberry relish, soup, etc. Salad dressing is something you can prepare a day ahead – have that out of the way. Make pasta and potato salads a day ahead and keep chilled.
Prep the Food: Do everything you can possibly do ahead of time. Have all of your stuffing vegetables chopped and waiting in the fridge to put together for preparation. For crudité: You can store things like peeled carrot sticks and trimmed celery stalks in ice cold water in the fridge a day ahead.
Chose Recipes You Have Already Tested: For your holiday dinner, you may have dreams of trying out a new recipe but stick to what you know. If you want to try something new then prepare it ahead of time and get taste testers.
Consider your kitchen and oven space: Don't make too many dishes that need to be in the oven at the same time if you only have space for a certain number. Maybe take this a step further too. You can make mashed potatoes in a slow cooker the day of, one less dish to go into the oven on a busy cooking day.
Make The Time To Shop: Buy your groceries as far ahead as you can. Buy canned and dry goods at least a week ahead of the date, and fresh ones a couple days before the holiday.
Peapod has a free app that “lets you walk the aisles of your supermarket without the need of putting any pants on.” All store sales carry over. Choose your groceries, set a delivery time, check out and you’re done.
Jazz Up Convenience Foods: Frozen meatballs and jarred sauce get homemade flair with a few dashes of your favorite herbs or the addition of chopped onions and peppers. Stir some chopped nuts into refrigerated cookie dough or finely dice green onions and parsley and mix them into a store-bought cheese spread.
Tips for storing leftovers: Try drizzling a little extra virgin olive oil over mashed potatoes before covering and storing in the fridge. Then stir in before reheating and give them another stir while heating up.
Purchase disposable plastic containers (like Glad) on hand so that you can send leftovers home with guests without having to worry about getting dishes back after the holiday.
Give a gift: Give your guests something to commemorate the night. You don't have to buy anything; an edible treat is always welcome at the end of a great night. Buy an inexpensive platter or serving dish, then using that to deliver your dish to pass at a party. The dish, then, acts as a hostess gift and you don't have to worry about getting it back.
Get Help: Potlucks can be fun for large holiday get together. It only takes a small amount of planning to ask certain guests to bring side dishes, salads, breads, desserts, etc. Then, all you have to worry about is the entrée. Be sure to tell guests how many will be at the party, so everyone brings enough servings of each course.