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Padma Lakshmi Says the Key to a Successful Holiday Dinner Is Hiding in Your Junk Drawer
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When it comes to entertaining, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi is a pro. So when we got the chance to talk to her ahead of the holiday hosting whirlwind, we were eager for her tips and tricks.

There are many things Lakshmi enjoys doing before opening up her home to guests (like drinking Champagne and taking a relaxing bath), but there’s one thing she exclusively tells PureWow is essential to any successful gathering: making a timed-out punch list (aka a to-do list).

The author, who’s slated to host Kellogg’s Holiday Baking Challenge, says making a punch list prevents last-minute stress and forgotten items. The most important aspect of her pre-party prep, she explained, is “writing out what dishes you want to make and then writing out all the ingredients you need. Then just have the to-do list on the counter and just cross things out.”

She went on to say having a punch list is an easy way to “make sure all the dishes sound good together” and that when she plans a menu, she tries to ensure “at least 60 to 75 percent of the dishes could be made ahead and reheated without diminishing the quality.”

That means instead of stressing before family and friends arrive, she’s able to relax because she’s already pre-chopped any necessary veggies and factored in cook and prep time.

At the end of the day, Lakshmi says, “You want to design a menu that’s executable without being stressed out, because if you have a good time and you’re relaxed, your friends, colleagues or loved ones will also have a good time. The mood of the host or hostess is very contagious throughout the party and it spreads very quickly.”

And when all else fails, a little Champagne always helps.

RELATED: Padma Lakshmi Reveals the 3 Reasons She’s Succeeded in a Male-Dominated Industry

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