Fear of cooking. There’s a name for it: mageirocophobia. As the holidays approach, cooking and entertaining for a crowd can make even a confident person more than a bit nervous.
In Psychology Today, Susan Albers, Psy.D., a psychologist who specializes in eating issues, recalls that she was overwhelmed in the kitchen, especially when entertaining or crunched for time. In her quest to overcome her own fears, she found some things that worked for her: find the right recipe, (preferably one that is simple and doesn’t require too many ingredients), put perfectionism on hold and pre-cook as much as possible.
The right kitchen!
Entertaining is all about being organized. This is why the right kitchen makes a big difference. With the ever growing trend for open floor plans, modern dining areas are part of the great room, and kitchen, flowing freely into one another with no walls.
For those who do the cooking and are looking for the perfect traffic pattern between the sink, refrigerator, and stove, this luxury house plan (#161-1042) is ideal. Its large main floor plan has an open design throughout the living areas - perfect for family living and entertaining. This large and open kitchen design has easy access to both the dining and living areas, while today most kitchen islands are used for serving when entertaining guests.
Read on for some experts’ tips for easy and stress-free holiday entertaining in your new or future home plan.
Do your homework. Set the stage.
Clinton Kelly, host of TLC's "What Not to Wear" and author of "Freakin' Fabulous: How to Dress, Speak, Behave, Eat, Drink, Entertain, Decorate, and Generally Be Better than Everyone Else": In "Freakin' Fabulous," Clinton proposes a formula for holiday entertainment tips to determine the perfect number of guests for a cocktail party. Divide the square footage of your home by five (the approximate number of feet each guest needs in personal space). That number equals how many people can fit comfortably in your home. Then, assume that 80 percent of your invitees will accept the invitation, but that five of those people won't end up coming. For example, if you've got 100 square feet of space in your home, you can fit 20 guests. But really, you can invite 25 because just 16 will plan to come in the first place, and one will claim to be violently ill the day of the party.
Make it gorgeous, no matter what the size.
Domestic goddess Martha Stewart suggests: “Think small for décor. A full-size Christmas tree may make a big impression in your home, but don't underestimate little ones. Miniature potted evergreens, arranged along a hallway or by the fireplace, add a lovely — and living —touch. Rotate them throughout the season so that they get sufficient light. After the holidays, plant them outdoors.”
Simplify, simplify, simplify.
Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa, says, for a dinner party: “Another easy solution is to skip the first course altogether. I serve the main course first, then a wonderful ripe cheese plus a green salad with mustard vinaigrette, and finally a decadent dessert. Now I’m not sitting and eating my soup while I’m wondering how in the world I’m going to carve the meat and get everything hot to the table while my guests are waiting.”
Make ‘em laugh! (Accompanied by a tasty beverage.)
What would Julia do? If you need to distract guests if something does go a bit awry, serve up a classic cocktail like one that the inimitable Julia Child served at Christmas: an orange-scented dark rum and Dubonnet aperitif. And make them laugh. Luke Barr, great-nephew of preeminent food writer writer M.F.K. Fisher, recounts a tale of a goose gone a bit wrong: “Despite my best efforts, a bit of goose fat had escaped the roasting pan and lit up at the bottom of my oven. It's the kind of thing that must've happened to Julia Child at some point, and it did cross my mind: What would she have done? Well, I turned off the oven. I took the goose out and closed the door. The fire refused to go out. Then, after a brief moment of panic, and a glance at my fire extinguisher, I smothered the flames with a damp towel. End of story. The goose went back in and roasted to perfection, and as I told my friends about the adventure (more amusing in retrospect than in the actual moment), I realized that this was just what Child would've done—told everyone about the mishap in the most entertaining way possible.” (Source: How Julia Child Celebrated Christmas)
Your home should be a joy that you can share with family and friends during the holidays, so there is no point in being fearful about entertaining. Just remember that with somw planning and the right attitude, even with a few cooking glitches, everyone will remember the effort, good times, and especially your home.