Holiday Planner: Prep Ahead to Eliminate the Stress of Holiday Entertaining

There was once a time when I dreaded the holidays. It was no longer a fun and relaxing time spent with family and friends. Instead it became a burden because of all of the work I put on myself. Then I figured out how to eliminate most of it by simply planning ahead, and not taking on too many major projects.  Here are a few tips to help in your holiday planning.

Think Ahead: Start by planning out the Thanksgiving or Christmas menu. Choose only one item for the feast that will take up a good portion of your time on that day. The rest should be prepared a day or two in advance or fairly simple to make the day of. You can also delegate responsibilities to other family members.

thanksgiving preparation

Decorating: Keep decorations simple. Beautiful decor is a reflection of natural elements mixed with a touch of the unexpected. Stick with a theme and use it throughout. I suggest finding one item to be the inspiration for the decor. Having one element of inspiration will help to hone in your ideas and budget.  For example, one year my sister chose a plate as her inspiration item. You can see it in the photo below. From that plate she developed a color scheme and basic theme that was evident throughout the house. She used pears, apples, candy canes, red, bright green, polka dots, stripes, and other elements that complemented the plate.

Entertaining: You can make your guests feel extra special with just a few warm tokens of  love. Using a name place card at the table will show your guests that they were thought of before hand and carefully considered when it came to preparations. The place cards can be created with the theme in mind. My sister used candy canes with a simple tag tied to it using a bright green ribbon. On the tag was the name of a guest. These were centered on the plates at the dining table. Other small things such as placing a candle, hand lotion and mints in the restroom will help the guests to feel at home.

Baking: Cakes, cornbread for dressing, cookies, and pies can all be baked and made one to two days before they are needed. Gather all recipes 3-4 weeks ahead of time and purchase all ingredients 2 weeks prior.

holiday preparation save time and money

Chop, Dice, Measure, and Store: All veggies and fruits can be cut the day before. This will free up lots of time and will also prevent the need to do so much cleaning the day of your dinner party. Brush fruits with a bit of lemon juice and soak potatoes in water to prevent oxidation. Chop up onions, bellpepper, celery and other seasonings and freeze or refrigerate for use later.  If you will need dry rubs or if a recipe calls for a specific list of seasonings then measure it all and store it together in a plastic baggy or a food container. This means less time spent the day of measuring out spices for the turkey rub.

Reflect: Don’t get so caught up in the details that you forget the bigger picture. Remember what the holiday is really all about and reflect on that. Spending time with loved ones and catching up on life’s recent events is much more memorable than the holiday turkey that was or wasn’t a hit.

What are your tips for eliminating stress and planning during the holidays?

This post was shared at:
• Homestead Barn Hop
Time Warp Wife
Traditional Tuesdays
Living Well Wednesdays
Raising Homemakers


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  1. says

    Great suggestions!!! I am a new(ish) mom and still very bad at planning things…trying to get better at it, so as to make holidays more enjoyable and less stressful.

  2. says

    That plate-tree idea is wonderful and also I think a little providential as one of my girls just gave me a beautiful Christmas plate that I just love. I am also sharing this with my niece who is hosting (along with her six kids) Thanksgiving this year. Have a wonderful day!


  1. […] Holiday Planner: Prep Ahead to Eliminate the Stress of Holiday Entertaining November 14, 2011 By Amy Bayliss If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!Sometimes the Christmas season can be overbearing. Sometimes we just need to step back and reassess what it is we want and can feasibly accomplish. I know that it is a special time for family and most importantly for biblical reasons and that is precisely why we would be better off spending more time planning and less time stressing. I wrote an article on ways to do this and it published today over at The Better Mom. If you want a bit of “peace on earth” this year go check it out: Holiday Planner: Prep Ahead to Eliminate the Stress of Holiday Entertaining. […]

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