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When to Say No to Holiday Cooking 

Holiday happiness may be a caterer away


o you love spending time in a warm kitchen cooking and baking during the holidays? Then this story might not be for you.

Maybe you're the person who's tried to mash potatoes faster in a food processor, only to create a thick, inedible paste. Or maybe you've attempted to cook a whole turkey but it turns out so dry, no amount of gravy can resuscitate it. I'm talking to you.

In a Pew Research Study, 69 percent of people say they look forward to spending time with family and friends at the holidays.

Aw, isn't that sweet?

With that, here's an idea that will allow more people to spend more time with family and friends during the holidays: Hire a caterer.

Yes, I said it, because I think it may be the key to more seasonal enjoyment. Less time in the kitchen means more socializing. I remember many Thanksgiving holidays, me in the kitchen cooking with my mom while my partner was mountain biking with my brother. I would have liked to be on the trail, too. And let's look at things head on: not everyone loves cooking, and for some people it raises their anxiety. I know you might be feeling the pressure from the Food Network and articles from top chefs about how you can make your holiday easier. Screw them, your seasonal joy is more important than that "simple" turkey brine that sounds easy until you can't find all the ingredients.

And if you're thinking catering is only for rich people, think again. Cindy and Gary Dale from Bad Boys Barbecue said, "Lots of people don't realize that catering can sometimes cost the same as cooking it yourself." So if you can pay the same for someone else to cook, why not give yourself a break? Here are a few ways to add catering to your holiday.

  • Only cook what you like.

Ask yourself this question, what do you really hate cooking? Is it that holiday ham? Or turkey and stuffing? Well, don't cook it this year. Hire someone else to do it. If you don't like making it, chances are you don't make it that well. Sorry if that stung a little, but when you only make what you love, it will show in the food.

  • Don't lift a finger.

Stay in your happy place all day by having everything done for you. Choose a caterer that will set up everything including the food table, linens, plates and chafing dishes. Then relax, sip wine with your guests, see how grandma is doing and smile as you watch the caterer clean everything up. You can find multiple levels of full service catering. Have them set up and clean up the food, or have them do everything down to the dishes and taking out the trash.

One more thing, and this is going to blow your mind.

  • Cocktail caterers also exist—and they can shake and serve all the drinks for you and your guests.
  • Order pre-prepped food for the entire holiday break.

When I spoke with the Dales, they told me about a client who had family in town for a week, so they ordered meals for the family's entire stay. "We dropped off trays of food, each labeled with what they were and how to prepare them. We even taught that client how to cook tri tip so she could make a bourbon tri tip marinated by Bad Boys BBQ." This is a brilliant idea. Food shopping and cooking for guests for a week sounds exhausting—not like a holiday vacation.

How do you find a good caterer?

Search for "catering" in an online search, then look at the food photos, menus and pricing. Read reviews and see what others have to say about the service and food. You can also ask your favorite restaurant. Many of them have catering services; you just need to ask.

About The Author

Lisa Sipe

Food Writer | The Source Weekly
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