Even though this is a small Christmas gathering of 7 (or possibly 9) and not the typical Chriskwansolstikkah gathering of 60 or so, the assembly line approach remains the best way to pull it off. Especially if, unlike Mom, you have just the one fridge, no counter space, and a single-slot stove. So every day of the week leading up gathering day is spending a couple of hours doing whatever dish can be done ahead of time.***
Plus, I like Martha Stewart's philosophy toward throwing a gathering. One should not be running around frantically day-of. And lord knows there's no reason to get up at 5 a.m. to start cooking everything that day! Martha says that one hour before the guests are supposed to arrive, one should be relaxing on the couch with a glass of wine.
The jamaica - a drink made from flowers, ginger and sugar - was set to soak on Sunday night. The longer it soaks, the more fantabulously stronger it becomes. This will soak three days in the fridge, then the pot goes on the stove with obscene amounts of sugar, boil it down, strain, cool, ready! Fab to drink alone, or with a little bit of tonic, or with vodka (my preferred option):
The reason I have jamaica available at Christmastime and you probably don't (nyah) is because I love this drink, load up on the flowers when they start showing up in the Mexican markets in the spring/summer, and keep a giant plastic sealed tub of them in the pantry year-round.
Monday! Home from work and right into the kitchen to whip up the dough for three different types of cookies - sugar, ginger, and Mexican wedding. Wrap, throw in the fridge to chill and wait until tomorrow for final step:
There's more dough than in this shot...the stuff made for friends who 'place orders' for their Christmas gatherings. I don't know how many years ago it hit me that since all of these cookies are pretty much baked at the same temp, that means all of them can be baked on the same day. Roll one day, bake the next - efficient! Since that means you'll have a hot space, cookie baking day provides perfect conditions for making the dough for the rolls so they'll rise big. And that's what I'll be doing tomorrow after work.
Update! Zombie gingerbread men, Christmas bats, Mexican weddings, and sugar cookies bagged for pickup (the recipient of those decorates them herself for her gathering).
The bat and zombie cookie cutters came into moi life a couple of years ago via The Elite Businessman, who is made of Awesome, and whose gift has delighted friends ever since. (The standard rounds are for people who would rather not have to explain zombie cookies to their people during holiday season.)
*** Exception is greens and chitlins. As each takes pretty much an entire day, that's done the weekend ahead of gathering time and loaded into the freezer for reheat. At this moment of typing I am trying to resign myself to there being no chitlins in time for Christmas, though. This makes me sad. I haven't *entirely* given up finding a source to provide raw materials, technically I have through New Year's Day, but if something does come through it won't be in time for the 25th.