By Nohad Mouawad

 

It’s one of the busiest times of year for moms, with many iftars to prepare, and so much to organize, from the menu to the décor. It’s always a joy and blessing to gather with family and friends during the Holy Month, but sometimes we just wish that someone would appear and wave their wand to magically help us out, especially those that are fasting and observing, at the same time as planning and preparing everything.

We’ve got a few tips and tricks to make hosting during Ramadan go a little bit smoother…

Plan the Menu: This might seem obvious, but especially if it’s your first time hosting such an elaborate meal, such as an Iftar, or you usually “fly by the seat of your pants,” it’s a good time to learn to simply write down your meal plan for the event. The most important elements of any delicious Iftar are the soup, salad, appetizer(s), main dishes, and dessert(s). Of course, don’t forget to think about the dates to break the fast with, any breads, as well as the beverages you’ll be serving, from the cold drinks to coffee and tea. Check out QiDZ Ramadan recipes for lots of inspiration.

Take One Thing off Your Plate: Now, once you’ve planned your menu, it’s time to take at least 1 menu item literally off your plate! I highly suggest outsourcing an appetizer and even dessert. These are the two dishes that take a lot of time but are easy to get readymade at a whole different range of prices. Some easy appetizers to buy are baked goods like mini pizza or manakeesh that can be found anywhere from your local supermarket, bakery or even catering company. Either order them fresh or buy the frozen version that can be popped into the oven right before your guests arrive. Dessert is also an area that you don’t have to spend lots of time on. Order an ice cream cake from Baskin Robbins, pick up a cake from the patisserie down the road or even check out your grocery store’s bakery section. So many shops and bakeries have special Ramadan desserts at this time of year.

Use Your Freezer: If you have set the date for your invitation a couple weeks ahead or more, it’s a great idea to make your soup ahead and freeze it. If you do plan on making your appetizers from scratch, many of these freeze especially well, such as cheese rolls, spring rolls and other baked goods. The freezer is basically your best friend ahead of Iftar! All you have to do on the day of is fry, bake or defrost the items that you pre-prepared.

Make Things in Batches: In the lead up to your Iftar, another great hack is to cook something you would be happy to serve at Iftar for a previous Iftar or dinner at home. When you cook the dish, such as beef stroganoff for example, make double the amount and freeze half of it. On the day of the actual event, all you need to do is defrost the pre-prepared main dish and make some rice or pasta to go along with it.

Give Each Family Member a Job: To be fair, although you’re hosting, so is your family, and you can’t do everything yourself! Give each family member a job, from your husband to your kids, even if it’s just picking up bags of ice for the drinks, napkins or a dessert from the store. The kids can tidy up their rooms and help set the tables, especially the kid’s table. If you have older kids, you might even ask them to help you mix the salad, plate the appetizers, or fix the bread basket.

Get Your Guests Involved: One of the best life hacks that doesn’t just apply to the month of Ramadan: don’t be afraid to ask for help! An Iftar menu requires a lot of variety and quantity, and with all the work moms have to do in and out of home, it’s wise to ask another family member or friend to make one of their Ramadan specialties. That way you have enough main dishes to feed a crowd. If one of your guests asks if they can bring dessert: it’s okay to say yes! They will feel helpful and you will have an easier time getting everything ready.

Create a Signature Beverage: To make Ramadan hosting a little more fun, think of adding an original touch to your Iftar, without having to spend a lot of time or money on it. A great signature beverage to refresh your guests at the beginning of the meal, can start things off on a nice note. They might already be bored of the usual Ramadan drinks like Vimto and Jellab, so you can spice things up with a fresh juice mocktail, a flavored lemonade or any other signature drink, especially as the weather is heating up outside.

Think About the Décor: Everything from the smallest touches, like a designed napkin or napkin ring and centerpiece, to tablewear and a full setup can really change the mood of the Iftar you’re hosting. To buy décor and accessories check out Party Centre in-store and online. They have everything for hosting at home and all color-coordinated. If you would like to go that extra mile and have a full setup, especially for a more elaborate Iftar, when hosting a crowd, Heartmade Events can help you design and execute from A to Z, and will both set things up, as well as take it all away when you’re event is over.

If it’s your first time hosting an Iftar, or you just usually find hosting stressful, plan ahead and don’t be afraid to outsource and ask for help. You might just enjoy the Ramadan hosting experience this year, and so will your guests.

 

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