Imagine leaving holiday cooking to the experts

50cd39ccb85ff.imagePosted: Sunday, December 16, 2012 6:00 am

By DARRIN BURNETT, Journal-Courier

Cooking Christmas dinner is one of the last trials of the holidays.

The gifts have been found, bought, wrapped and opened, and receipts have been found for the ones to be taken back on Dec. 26.

The tree and other decorations are up and you’re already thinking, a little, about when you can take it down. (Admit it, you are.)

But now the guests are coming for dinner. The kids have been pried away from their toys. The house is presentable and so is your family. It’s time to get it ready.

Randy Twyford of Twyford BBQ has a simple message for people who are planning to cook for the holidays.

“Don’t get too complicated,” he said. “Thank God for the Food Network and all those channels. You see people doing that stuff and it looks so easy on TV. Remember, they are professionals.”

The biggest mistake he sees is people trying recipes they’ve never tried before, and doing it in front of all their family.

“People will get in and get over their head,” he said. “They start panicking. If there is something you know how to do, then do it. Don’t get over your head.”

And also, plan ahead and make sure you have those supplies.

“Those stores do close on Christmas Eve,” Twyford said.

Or, if you do want to host but not have the hassle, there is always catering, and that is where businesses like Twyford’s and Hamilton’s Catering come in.

Both said they get plenty of work this time of year and have been catering office holiday parties. “You’re still seeing a lot of companies having parties,” Twyford said. “Both parties at the office and at off-site facilities.”

They also do plenty of business for home parties.

“On Christmas Eve, we have a lot of deliveries and pick-ups, which are ready-to-heat orders,” said Tammy Whewell, of Hamilton’s. “We deliver the food cold and give the customer heating instructions for the food they have ordered.”

Just a reminder: They do close on Christmas Day, Whewell said, although they get a lot of questions.

Twyford’s BBQ sets up at the corner of Main Street and Morton Avenue every Wednesday and sells barbecue ready to be taken home and cooked.

He said non-traditional meats, beyond ham and turkey, are becoming more popular for Christmas. Prime rib is one of the most popular, he said. Briskets are also popular.

“We will be set up on Christmas Eve day,” he said. “We will be set up from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It’s always a big day for us.”

He has been known to deliver on Christmas Day, although not often.

“Most people wouldn’t do that,” he said. “It’s just my wife and I. My theory is that you never know which customer will eventually turn into a big job.”

When it comes to big jobs, Hamilton’s has it covered. They have a party this season with 375 confirmed reservations. That is one of the largest single events, but the entire holiday season has been packed, she said.

Hamilton’s is still taking orders, as well.

Whewell’s biggest tip? “Call Hamilton’s and let us take the stress of cooking off of you for your holiday party!”

Tips for hosting a holiday party

  • Plan ahead. Start planning as soon as you learn you’re actually the host again (or for the first time)
  • Invite early so people know they don’t have to host their own party or don’t accept other invitations. Also, you can start figuring out what you need people to bring.
  • Figure out a budget, and be prepared to go over. There will always be stuff you forgot to budget for.
  • When people ask you what they can bring, use that opportunity to get out of dishes you’re not as good at or don’t have time for. If you don’t feel comfortable asking, at least be smart enough not to turn down help.
  • Cook as much as possible the night or even a couple of days before.
  • If you are having an afternoon party, but aren’t planning on throwing people out after dinner, be prepared to have after-dinner snacks.
  • Keep food safety in mind. At parties, food tends to stay out longer. Randy Twyford of Twyford BBQ said his company, among others, has a food safety section of its website. For instance, people having a great time after dinner may come back later, searching for a snack, and they eat the dip filled with mayonnaise that has been out for hours.