Stress Free Holiday Meal Planning

A Sensational Season Is All In The Planning

From a quick poll of my mom friends, it seems to me that the bulk of the holiday planning is often left up to the female in any given family. From planning, inviting, hosting, shopping, wrapping, mailing, cleaning, cooking, decorating to purchasing in-law presents (hello hubby, what did you do before you met me?) we are exhausted before the actual holidays even arrive. Putting together memorable holiday dinner parties doesn't have to be a daunting task. In fact, it can be Sensational, if you approach it with the right attitude.

There are some tips that I have learned over the years as a caterer and more importantly as a busy mom to help make the holiday season as stress free as possible and no it doesn’t include copious amounts of spiked Egg Nog! A Holiday without planning is anything but a holiday in my books and to that point each year I plan, plan and then plan again but even earlier. Here are a few tips to help get you through the holidays:

Loving the List

Clean out your fridge, freezer and pantry now. It not only helps to provide the much needed space for holiday treats but it also helps to save you money by knowing what you already have on hand. Chances are you will be cooking at least one big holiday meal so take the time to plan what you need for meals, baking and decorating while you still have the time. Take advantage of online recipes, shopping list templates (such as the one at shown below) and menu planners to help keep you organized and to provide you with much needed seasonal inspiration.

Make the Freezer Your Friend

While you’re making your lists and planning your menus, don’t forget to use your freezer and refrigerator like a sous chef! Prepare some of you holiday dishes now and freeze or refrigerate them until just before you need them. My gift to you this holiday season is my recipe for Onion & Fennel Bisque that can be prepared 2 days in advance and Savoury Sausage Stuffing that can be frozen for up to 1 month. Both are perfect additions to any holiday celebration. But no one says you have to do it all on your own so give yourself a gift by keeping freezer-friendly foods like freezer to oven appetizers and ready-to-go desserts that you can serve to the expected and the often unexpected holiday guests!

Hostess with the Mostess

Keeping a stock of hostess gifts, teacher gifts and just “because I love you” gifts will save you time and money when you need to get your hands on a gift quickly. Pretty cocktail napkins, scented candles and gift cards are great generic options. As a caterer I know a platter of sweet treats are always a hit at the end of a party so bring your hostess a decadent box of chocolates or cookies; whether or not she chooses to share them is up to her but thoughtful little touches like that will keep you on the guest list for years to come!


However you choose to spend the holidays, take a few minutes now to plan and organize your season so you can enjoy a Sensational Stress-free one. Happy holidays!

Sensations by Compliments products
are available at Sobeys

Check out these other
Stress-free Holiday Entertaining Ideas


Nadine Hughes is a renaissance woman whose forte is making food fun again. Mother of two young boys, wife, serial entrepreneur, world traveler and food expert extraordinaire, Nadine is a woman who literally walks the talk. When she’s not experimenting with her kids’ palettes on fish heads and kohlrabi, Nadine frequently appears as a television and radio guest discussing food, entertaining and how family fits into it all.

To keep food on the family table, Nadine is an entrepreneur, cooking instructor, caterer and award winning cookbook author. Her first cookbook “The Groove Mamma Goes Gourmet: Easy Ways to Put the Fun Back into Entertaining” ( was awarded The Best Canadian Entertaining Cookbook at the 2009 Gourmand Cookbook Awards. So tighten your apron strings and join Nadine as she dishes on food, family, fun and believe it or not, how they can all go together!

You can also follow Nadine on her food journey on Twitter @nadinehughes or find out more at