This holiday season certainly feels different from years past, but that doesn't mean that it can't be special—at least according to Design Cuisine's (designcuisine.com) executive chef Shannon Shaffer. Here, he divulges on his top five tips.
1. Upgrade your décor and table setting – Do not skimp on your holiday place settings just because it's only your immediate family at the table. Make the meal feel special with candles and increased décor such as garland, lights and vases. At Design Cuisine, we like to create beautiful printed menus for each guest at their seat. Maybe use food as the centerpiece to pivot to a more culinary angle? To take away the stress of setting up do this up to a week ahead of time so you are not rushed—for buffets, you can lay out your platters and label each one with a sticky note.
2. Serve the meal as individual courses – This year, more than ever, we are not rushing around between holiday parties and families. Make your holiday meal feel special with several courses served one at a time. Take the time to sit and enjoy your soup or salad before serving the entrée, rather than plating everything on the table.
3. Treat your smaller group to luxury ingredients – When you are serving a smaller group, you may be able to splurge on items you could not otherwise for a larger party. Think about upgrading your traditional ham to a beef tenderloin or adding ingredients such as truffle or caviar to the menu.
4. Make the menu an experience – Have some fun with your traditional meal by adding experiential items to the menu. At Design Cuisine, we love adding a DIY signature cocktail bar or make-your-own brownie sundae stations. 5. Pre-order a professionally cooked meal – You’ve likely been cooking for yourself much more this year. Get your holiday meal catered by a professional and let yourself sit back and relax! You deserve it! Plus, both restaurants and caterers are getting more creative than ever before with the at home, drop off holiday menus. You will feel good about supporting a local business during these difficult times.