How To Feed A Gathering, Enjoy Yourself, AND Have A Clean Kitchen!

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Several readers have emailed me asking about ideas for Christmas entertaining when hosting gatherings. Seeing as how this is the best time of the year, we don’t want to be sweating away in the kitchen when our family comes to pay call! (Mama would object to me using the term “sweating”. She says ladies do not sweat, we “glisten”).

Here is what I would do for a meal for a gathering.  The best part is, you can start making it today! My timetable begins preparations three days before the event, and leaves you relaxed and with a clean kitchen when your guests arrive!

(Simply click on recipe title to be taken to the recipe and tutorial on how to make it!)

2 to 3 days before the gathering:

Shop for all groceries, make dessert. Refrigerator cakes are wonderful for large gatherings because they can be made so far in advance and rather than getting dry, they actually get better as the days go by. On the day of your event, simply open the fridge and dessert is served!

Personally, I would make one cake per ten to twelve people.

My recomendations are:

Coconut Cake

Butterfinger cake

These two are crowd pleasers!

1-2 Days Before Gathering

Set table completely. Make sure you have hot sauce and crackers. If you are serving Chili, make sure you have shredded cheese, sour cream, and any other toppings your family likes.

Make your main course. Stews and Chili are great this time of year. More filling than soups, their warmth and meal-in-one convenience can’t be beat for serving a crowd! Whats more, to multiply this chili or stew recipe, all  you need to do is double all of the ingredients EXCEPT the meat! The same amount of meat will be just fine if the recipe is doubled, making it very economical. A double recipe will feed at least ten to fifteen people.

Chicken Stew. This is my personal favorite. Also easily customizable if you are feeding one or more vegetarians. Simply use a can of vegetable broth and mix up a separate pot with all the other ingredients except chicken!

Soups, Stews, and chili are wonderful if left in the fridge a day or two (they actually tastes better!) as the flavors have time to develop and blend.

My Crock pot chili can easily be made in a pot on the stove or just fire up the crock pot a day or two before.

Allow stew or chili to cool and store in the refrigerator.

Day of Gathering:

Heat up stew or chili. Make bread, I suggest:

Dixie Cornbread


Southern Hoe Cake

Both of these are always hits with my family and friends. I would make about a pan of bread for every eight people or so. This is the only thing you have to bake on the day of the gathering and it is quick! You can even assemble your dry ingredients in a plastic bag a few days ahead of time.

As your guests arrive, your house will be filled with the aroma of your stew or chili, your kitchen will be spotless, your table set, your bread warm, and they’ll wonder how you did it all so effortlessly!




For all of the recipes I have posted in the Holiday Baking category (including gift mixes), click here!

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  1. Great menu and some of my favorites! — I made chicken stew for a gathering last month and put it in the. Crock pot t the day we ate it…when I opened the lid it smelled just like my gr mother’s house.. SO Wonderful!! (She passed away in 1971)

  2. Christy. I would like to know the difference between cornbread and hoe cake, my sister says they are the same.I say one is corn bread and one is halfcorn bread and half biscuit. Please settle this for us. Thankyou

    1. Your sister is thinking of what is more commonly referred to as hoe cake, which is basically a cornbread batter cooked up like pancakes. It’s still not cornbread but she is partially right :). Cornbread is cooked in a big skillet or pan and is the size of a cake layer. The outsides will be nice and crunchy with fluffy insides. A corn hoecake looks like a pancake though :). This hoe cake (which is what we call hoe cake where I’m from ) is like a big fluffy soft biscuit, with deliciously crunchy outsides.
      Hope this helps! No matter what you call a hoe cake, a hoe cake is always different from cornbread 🙂

  3. I have made Hoe Cake all my life it seems. Mama made it before me, I learned how to cook it standing on a box at her elbow. Mama cooked hers in a skillet on the top of the stove with some bacon grease in the skillet getting hot before patting out her hoe cake batter in the pan. Usually people look at me like I’m crazy if I mention cooking a hoe cake. But it is just another bread to us southern folk to enjoy with our meals…LOL


  4. I made the BBQ Stew yesterday. Used a Hen instead of a chicken. Made cornbread and the only problem was wishing I’d ordered the Forever Lazy and Hot Booties … so I could have trully relaxed after my meal. Thanks for the Great Recipes! I have your book, also. Finally learned how to make a decent biscuit. Thanks to your Dad. 🙂

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