Pat Neely teams up with Family Dollar to share secrets on preparing food for a big holiday party

neely at home

The holiday season is approaching and people across the country will be trying to figure out the best ways to make this year’s festivities special.

Pat Neely of “Down Home with Neelys” knows a thing a or two about cooking huge dinners during the holiday season. In past years, he has prepared meals for up to 50 family and friends for the holidays. During rolling out’s visit to Pat’s home in Memphis, Tennessee, he teamed up with Family Dollar and revealed secrets to preparing food for a big holiday party.

What are the best ways to prepare for a huge holiday party?

Here’s the first thing I can say about the holiday season as far as tips for preparing for a big party. You must relax. I’m here to take the intimidation out of it. Look at it as having fun. Obviously, when you’re shopping at Family Dollar there are some amazing products that you can buy and I put together some outstanding dishes that were very inexpensive and were easy to make. So I try to tell people in terms of tips, make sure that you prepare food the day before as much as you can. You arrange your house and dishes that you are preparing in small sizes so that you can place them around your house so that people are not all cluttered in one area to get their meals. Try to do as much as you can before your guests arrive. Have your cocktail so that you can relax and enjoy the party.

You bring up the night before the big dinner. How important is it to begin preparation the night before? 

[There are] a lot of things that you can do in your home the night before and the day before to prepare great meals that take the stress off the day of your party. If you’re making a mac and cheese dish, have your toppings already prepared. Have your casserole prepared in the fridge so just before your guests arrive, all you have to do is pop it in the oven. That’s something you can do the day before. Your desserts can be prepared and on the trays the day before so all you’re doing is pulling those out.

How can hosts save money on snacks and drinks?

I recommend a signature house cocktail. You save a lot of money and it also cuts down on preparing all of these different drinks and having to have a bartender. You have a signature cocktail there and everyone is having the same drink. So there are a lot of different things, have cups of nuts and pecans and little things for people to snack on. Most holidays we overthink it. We think that we gotta have this enormous meal prepared. You can have bite-size snacks and things because it’s all a big party.

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