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Holiday meal preparation: Tips to coordinate the perfect feast

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(BPT) - Families everywhere anticipate the holiday season months in advance. If you have visions of delicious dishes and happy guests dancing in your head, you’re certainly in the right spirit, but is your home ready to make that holiday daydream a reality? By prepping your home – and especially your kitchen – for the celebration, you’ll be better able to focus on the joy of your get-together.

When planning a party, the kitchen – as the heart of any gathering – is a good place to start. And, with holiday celebrations so often food-focused, ensuring that your kitchen is up to the task should be your first order of business, says Laura Johnson, home economist and kitchen expert at LG Electronics USA. First, it’s  good to think about the details of your soiree. How many people will be attending? Do any guests plan to contribute dishes? Knowing how much food you’ll need, and what folks intend to bring, will help you determine the demands that your cooktop, oven and refrigerator will need to meet.

If you’ve found that your kitchen was unable to meet the demands of the holiday season in years past, consider alternative appliances while you still have the time, Johnson says. A “mega capacity” refrigerator like the new 33-cubic-foot French-door model from LG (the largest available in its class), enables you to store everything you need to feed a crowd until dinner time comes around … and even all those great holiday left-overs into the next day.

Before the big day arrives, make sure that all of the cutlery, china and glassware you want to use is out of storage, clean and ready to go, says Johnson. The last thing you want to do is struggle to find that perfect platter when things are getting busy in the kitchen. Call or email guests who will be bringing dishes to find out whether they’ll need serving utensils, bowls or platters. It’s always a good idea to have some extras on hand in the event something is forgotten.

Having the right cookware isn’t the only kitchen concern during the holiday season, especially as dinner time nears. “Once it’s time to start cooking and do any last minute warming before the big meal, your cooking appliances are going to get their most thorough workout of the year,” Johnson says. From holiday hams to family-sized casseroles, consider a model that blends capacity and quick cooking times, like LG’s largest capacity electric range. “Finding an oven that fits in all of your culinary creations, and finishes them quickly, can mean the difference between hungry guests and happy ones,” she adds. With 20 percent faster cooking times and 6.3 cubic feet of space, a range like this means your dishes will come out of the oven table-ready, and you’ll stay perfectly on schedule.

Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to prepare dishes ahead of time and then give them a quick finish in the oven on the day of the big event. Some items, like a roast, are best made on the day of, but many side dishes can be prepared and stored in the refrigerator for a day or two. Have a variety of beverages pre-cooled for guests of all ages, as well as plenty of snacks – for every palate. Fun finger foods appeal to the little ones, while adults may have more sophisticated tastes. Make sure you’ve prepared for any guests with allergies, too – and have suitable alternatives for them to enjoy.

“A well-prepared kitchen helps make the holidays easier and more enjoyable,” says Johnson. “Your guests will feel at home, and you’ll be able to spend time enjoying the event, rather than spending your time toiling away.” For more ideas about creating the perfect holiday-ready kitchen, visit www.lg.com.

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