The holiday season is always busy, stressful, and full of expectation, right? No way—not this year!
The stress is on! But it doesn’t have to be. While it’s easy to get wrapped up in all the festive hoopla, it’s helpful to take a step back and consider what’s really important—and that includes your sanity!
To make the holidays less crazy-making and more enjoyable here are 8 tips, from the practical to the more abstract, to help you bring more joy and less frazzle to the upcoming Season.
It Doesn’t Have to Be Norman Rockwell or Martha Stewart!
How many of us have been influenced by the winter holiday idealism of those iconic Norman Rockwell images? More likely, in recent years, it’s the domestic goddess goals set by the lovely and infinitely talented Martha Stewart.
First, they’re both wonderful, of course; second, they’re entirely unattainable for most of us!
It’s time to dispense with the fantasy—too much pressure!
Rather, ask what the benefit of the holidays is to you. What’s the worst that can happen if things don’t go as planned? Questions like these help take the pressure off, lowering the stress and bringing expectations back into check.
Let your holidays unfold realistically, warts and all, with a sense of fun and just enjoy them!
KISS: Keep It Simple, Sweetie!
Make uncomplicated your mantra this holiday season. How can you simplify the upcoming weeks so that as opposed to draining you, you come away feeling more connected and satisfied?
It may mean some easy baking, made all the more fun done with someone you love; same goes with Christmas and Holiday crafts. Those premade gingerbread houses are THE best!
It’s not about slaving away in the kitchen or over decor and crafts (unless that’s totally your jam!).
Instead, keep the focus on quality time with family and friends and what that means. Chances are, good food (see below), traditions and memorable moments will top the list.
Make as much as you can in advance. It can be a week or only a day, but the more you can take care of ahead of an event or gathering the easier it will be.
Spending 30 minutes or less over the course of a few days will be so much less overwhelming than spending hours the day of.
Think easy and delicious meatballs! Perfect for making and storing.
Consider the variety of ways you can save time, prepping ingredients in advance that don’t compromise the taste or quality of the recipes:
- Peel the garlic you need a few days earlier and keep it refrigerated in an airtight container
- Same goes for onion: slice or chop and keep in an airtight container
- Finely chop your fresh herbs such as dill, thyme, and oregano. It should be dried first and then stored in an airtight container. It should last a couple of days without spoiling
- Pre-cut your cheeses, wrap well with plastic wrap and store in an airtight container
Store-Bought Appetizers Are the Bomb!
There are so many wonderful, tasty, and interesting appies available in your grocer’s freezer case. Really, it’s OK—take advantage of it!
Why would you go to the trouble of making mini-quiches by hand when there’s a host of options available premade?
The selection of high quality, great tasting frozen appetizers is better than ever and chances are, your guests won’t know or care that they weren’t handmade.
Unexpected visitors? There’s nothing better, or easier, than frozen appetizers in a pinch!
Simplicity When It Comes to Mains and Sides!
Big dinners can be a huge source of stress and anxiety. But, there are ways to minimize the negative impact on both your day and your psyche.
You may be surprised to know that, in fact, a main course is easiest when you opt to prepare a roast. Roast potatoes, roast beans, and roast broccoli can even be cooked alongside.
In all likelihood, you’ve provided a selection of (easy!) appetizers, so even more pressure off the amount of food necessary for the meal.
Voila! Ample time to relax and enjoy your guests!
Desserts Made Ahead
Make your dessert fabulous, and your guests leave with a great and lasting impression of the evening! Be sure to make things easy on yourself: prepare your sweet treat a day or two in advance—desserts are easily prepped and stored.
Delicious pumpkin pie or brownies which can actually be made a week ahead of time and frozen. Just cut ‘n serve.
Add fresh berries, whipped or iced cream and, wow!
Learn to Say “No”
This is a tough one for most of us, and understandably so. We all want to be accommodating and nice, particularly around the holidays.
If you don’t say “no” occasionally, however, you’re setting yourself up for stressful days. Allocate your time wisely and don’t over-commit.
Reconsider the idealistic view that everyone will be happy—they won’t, regardless of what, and how much, you do.
Take care of yourself and make even a little time to do the things that make you comfortable and more relaxed.
Stop Putting Yourself Last
An extension of the previous point: be sure to create space and time for yourself.
The season is sure to be full of quality, but intense, time with family and friends. Self-care, if you’re going to survive the Season with your health—physical and mental—intact, is equally important.
Take some alone time. Maybe cozy, in bed with a book and a cup of tea, away from the gang. Treat yourself to some time to simply do nothing.
Don’t be afraid to cancel some plans if you feel overwhelmed. Like saying “no”, understanding your limits will be the best thing for you in the long run.
As many of the Christmas carols remind us, joy should be the prevailing sentiment at this time of year, topping the list of holiday goals.
When we’re so busy running and rushing with all the to-do; so much work and frenzy invested to make the moments, we lose the joy in them.
This holiday season, consider perhaps that the joy isn’t going to be found in all the doing, but in just being. With those that you cherish… as well as alone.
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