REMAX of Bigfork

Key Tips for a Perfect Holiday Dinner

Holiday DInner IDeasWith Thanksgiving and the busy holiday season approaching, it’s time to get your planning underway.

To help you have a fun and festive celebration, our family at Hollinger Real Estate in Bigfork, Montana, is sharing our top tips to ensure your Thanksgiving and other holiday meals to come are the best ones yet.

Sometimes, the hardest part is deciding what kind of dinner you want. Traditional? Trendy? Timeless? That’s the first step. Once you have decided on your theme, these next steps work no matter how fancy, or not, your festivities will be.


Set Your Table First

This is the perfect way to get in the mood for the fun to come. Start a week before the holiday to gather the goods and all the utensils you will need for the big feast. Whether you are setting the table for a few or the whole clan, here are some perfectly simple ideas to make a statement that the holiday is underway.

If you still have a few gourds or (uncarved) pumpkins, place those first in the middle of the table. Apples and Pears work well to add more color. When it comes to the place settings, you have your options from formal (China) to casual (everyday dishes) and, for the easiest of all, paper plates – which come in lots of festive designs at your local craft store.

Create Your Menu, Now.

There is no need to stress throughout the month; now is the time to plan everything from ‘soup to nuts.’ Right now, grocery stores throughout Treasure State are starting their Thanksgiving sales. This is always the perfect time to shop and save.

If you plan to fix the entire feast yourself, you can start this week. Find some make-ahead dishes that freeze well. The Pioneer Woman website has 37 delicious options. Take a peek now and get prepping!

Engage Your Guests

Quite often, our guests and family members will ask, “Can I bring something?” When planning the menu, earmark some of these ideas to answer, “Yes!”

A simple list may include:

  • Appetizers
  • Salad
  • Dinner Rolls
  • Dessert
  • Beverages
  • Ice

Hunt for the Perfect Turkey

Throughout Montana, it’s not uncommon for families to enjoy a Turkey or two that they have acquired throughout the hunting season. Depending on where one lives, the season may have come and gone or is in full swing. For complete information and regulation details, click on this easy-to-understand Upland Game Bird Guide from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

If you prefer to hunt through the sale pages from your favorite grocery store, be sure to shop for the best sale, yet do remember you get what you pay for. You may see Brands that offer a super deal, yet they sometimes have a better product.

So how big of a bird do you need? Once you have a good headcount, plan to serve ¾ to 1 pound of bird per person. If you want leftovers (and who doesn’t!), count up to 1 to 2 pounds of Turkey per person.

You can freeze the bird until a few days away. Just remember, thaw it in the refrigerator, not the countertop.

Prep Ahead

Anything you can do to prep ahead is a step in the right direction. Depending on your menu, you may be further ahead to enjoying a stress-free day than you think. Our list of pre-prep includes:

  • Chopping the veggies and cleaning and chilling the salad items
  • Gathering the contents for the turkey brine
  • Making the appetizers
  • Measuring out ingredients for our favorite homemade salad dressings and desserts

If company is arriving early, there’s nothing wrong with asking for help and throwing a ‘pre-prep’ party!

Don’t Overcomplicate Things

Holiday dinners are certainly all about the food, yet the beverages can be just as festive. With so many creative pre-mixed drinks on the market today, and locally sourced brews, you don’t need to be a mixologist to please everyone at the table. Want to keep it simple? Check out this deliciously-perfect Super Simple Mulled Wine recipe.

For non-alcoholic options, those sparkling waters are always a favorite!

Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen?

With so many items on the list that need to come together at the same time, too many cooks in the kitchen could ruin all your hard work. Plan to have an appetizer spread and beverage bar out of your way. Think: it’s football season … in the living room!

Delegate the Duties

When the host is tied up in the kitchen, your guests in particular, won’t be able to relax. Guests will always ask if they can help — so let them! There’s always some pre-prep to complete, recipes to finalize, and dishes to deliver to the table. And don’t forget about the clean-up!

Check Cleaning Supplies

Speaking of which, nothing can ruin a holiday dinner more than red wine or brown gravy on a white tablecloth or carpet. We always have white vinegar and salt on hand and never hesitate to have a bottle of “Wine Away” close by as well.

Here are some excellent tips to stay ahead of the spills this holiday season. This Stain Removal Chart that is posted on is a super reference to have this holiday season, and year-round. We actually printed this out, and it’s hanging in a closet in our kitchen!

Plan on “Downtime” for YOU!

We like to give ourselves a pre-dinner day off and suggest you do too. There’s no doubt you deserve it for all the planning and preparation.

From our family to yours, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season to come.

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The Hollinger Team

Can we answer any questions for you?

With a lifetime of experience living here in Montana's Flathead Valley, we can answer any question you might have—we've got a ton of real estate expertise, but we can also help with the practical stuff too, like where the best fishing spots are, when ski season begins, and what to do if a moose wanders into your property.

Give us a call, or drop us a note, we'd love to introduce ourselves...
(406) 837-5531 | email: Scott, Diana, Kellie, Drew, or Dane

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