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.
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.
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?