Top 5 tips for a happy hosting experience this holiday season

(BPT) – The holidays are coming up, which means your life will be full of family, friends and many delicious meals. To keep everything running along merrily this year, why not take steps to make hosting less stressful, and a lot more joyful?

Here are 5 key tips and a few must-have kitchen essentials that can make your holiday hosting easier than ever.

1. Stock your pantry before the holidays

Even before finalizing your holiday menus, ensuring that your pantry staples are well stocked will prevent last-minute panic runs to the store for things like flour, salt, cooking oil and chocolate, lots of chocolate. Take inventory of your cupboards to see if any of those kitchen necessities are running low — then you’ll be ready for all kinds of tasty recipes.

2. Don’t underestimate your prep time

If your recipe says a dish takes 45 minutes to prepare and cook, build in an extra 30 minutes when scheduling your meal prep time before guests arrive. Even better, prep or cook some items (or components) ahead, so they’re pre-chopped or ready to take from the fridge and reheat. Everything always takes longer than expected, so you’ll relieve a lot of stress if you know you’ll have time to do it well. Then you can relax, put on your favorite music, gather your ingredients and get ready to make holiday magic.

3. Let many hands make light work

Holiday cooking and baking memories with friends and relatives may be some of the best memories from your own childhood, so go ahead and let your family and friends help out with some of your meal preparation, cooking and table setting. Even little hands can do a few simple tasks to help, and the more the merrier!

4. Use the right tools for the job

Cooking and baking are so much easier (and much more fun) if you have the best tools possible for the job. Here are some kitchen must-haves that can make your holiday hosting seem effortless:

GoodCook Quick-Baste Roasting Pan — You’ll be ready for any major holiday gathering with this 13×17 pan that comes with a locking rack. It’s large enough for all your favorite chicken, beef and pork roasts, and it can even handle a 25-pound turkey. Constructed with a unique v-shape that allows for the collecting of juices and liquids, you can safely baste in half the time and leave the oven door open for a shorter time to keep cooking temperature consistent. Made from heavy-duty steel, it has a durable nonstick coating that is safe for metal utensils.

GoodCook Meat Tenderizer — Worried about serving tough meat? Worry no more. This double-sided mallet features a textured side for breaking up fibers in tougher meat and a smooth side for flattening cutlets. It’s also the ultimate tool to ensure that your seasonings and toppings are perfectly pulverized, as it’s suitable for crushing nuts, smashing garlic, or mincing ginger spices that will add a delicious dash of flavor to your recipes. Plus, with the single-piece, cast aluminum construction, it is ideal for sanitary use and cleanup.

GoodCook Digital Thermometer — Make sure all your food is properly cooked with an accurate thermometer that has an easy-to-read digital display so you can read the temperature quickly. Its stainless probe has a protective sleeve with a rotating temperature guide for quick reference. As simple to clean as it is to use, when your work is done, you can easily sanitize, fold and store away until next time.

GoodCook AirPerfect Nonstick Baking Sheet — Be ready for cookie swaps or spontaneous baking moments with these insulated cookie sheets that provide even baking and moister cookies. Available in two sizes, you’ll have your pick of perfecting a small or larger batch. Even better, the sheets are designed to keep cookies from burning on the bottom, delivering golden brown results every time — and with the slide-off surface and secure indented handle, cookies are easier than ever to remove. As an added bonus, the nonstick surface makes it a snap to clean.

5. Clean as you go

If you can do some of the cleanup during the preparation and cooking process, you’ll not only maximize your prep surface, but you’ll also make it a lot easier to finish the cleaning after the festivities have wound down for the day.

There’s nothing more satisfying than collaborating with loved ones to prepare a celebration, so take time to have fun and savor the moment. Taste your own food, spend time with the people you care about and enjoy the wonderful holiday feeling you’ve helped to create.

Between the best tools, help from family and friends, plus your upbeat, can-do attitude, your holidays this year can be more fun, festive and flavorful than ever. Find more products to help your holidays be merry at