Organizing easter dinner

Easter is one of those holidays that my mom absolutely adored. After a long Lenten season, she loved throwing off the proverbial sackcloth and just reveling in the day’s pure joy.

In an effort to carry on her traditions or in a fit of temporary insanity (not sure which) I agreed to host dinner for our big, crazy family. 20 people. Lord help me. Apparently I forgot I can’t cook!

The only way forward: institute a plan to break down the “big dinner” into smaller projects that don’t terrify me or overwhelm with their complexity.

Step 1: Plan the Menu

I spent about 45 minutes going through cookbooks and my mom’s old recipe cards to put together the big menu. I then made copies of each recipe and put them all in a plastic sleeve, so I don’t have to waste time thumbing through cookbooks on the big day.

I then made up a cute little menu card and will print out 20 copies and put one on each person’s plate.

Step 2: Map out the prep schedule

Since spring break falls the week before Easter (and that means 2 young boys underfoot all week) I know I’m going to need to be extra efficient in my prep work. Here’s how I’m breaking it down.

This week: Make the centerpiece for the table. I considered quite a few table decorations:

Bunny fold napkins (via: Good Housekeeping)

Egg place cards (via: Epicurious)

And an Easter Egg “tree” (via: Martha Stewart)

However, though I’d like to do all of them, I have to come to terms with the fact that (a) I work full time and (b) lack crafting abilities. SO, I’m going to go for a simple, but beautiful arrangement of peonies instead (image via: TheCinderellaProject)

If I get that basic decoration done this week, then I can relax and enjoy down time with the boys for most of their spring break. Here’s the day-by-day and hour-by-hour plan leading up to Sunday.
Holy Thursday: Do the grocery shopping, iron the linens
Good Friday: Set up the dining room, extra tables, etc., clean the windows in dining/living rooms
Holy Saturday:
– am: decorate eggs with the boys in advance of the big hunt
– nap window: make the hazelnut meringues for the dacquoise
– pm (after kids asleep): make the buttercream for the dacquoise, assemble, and put in the fridge

If you’ve never eaten a dacquoise, it has got to be one of the most insanely delicious cakes ever to be invented. Layers of heart-attack-inducing-melt-in-your-mouth coffee buttercream are put in between crunchy hazelnut meringues. It looks like this (image via: YUM.

Easter Sunday:

    – 8:45am: mass
    – 10:30am: remove the lamb from the fridge, egg hunt!
    – 11:00am: make popover batter, put in fridge
    – 12:00pm: prep the potatoes
    – 1:30pm: make the spinach salad (use hard boiled egg from egg hunt) & put bowl on table
    – 1:50pm: put popovers in the oven, put butter on the table, pour water into glasses
    – 2:15pm: put potatoes on to boil
    – 2:30: pull lamb from oven, put on serving tray and cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 20 min, take
    out popovers & put in a basket on the table, steam green beans and asparagus
    – 2:30pm: Serve first course
    – 2:40pm: Put veggies into serving dishes, mash potatoes, have DH carve the lamb
    – 2:45pm: Serve main course
    – 3:30pm-ish: Serve dessert/coffee

    Whew! Although it’s a little daunting, and I’m nervous about getting everything out on the table so that it’s hot vs. lukewarm, It’s amazing how much better I feel having a plan. It’s also clear where I am going to need extra hands on deck to help me. So I’ll start thinking about who I want to delegate to now, which will help reduce stress levels a lot!

    I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any big plans for either Passover or Easter? If so, how will you orchestrate the event? Are you practiced enough at hosting big parties that you can ‘wing it or do you need a blueprint for the day like me?