It’s that time of the year again. The holiday season is finally upon us. Target is running Christmas ads. People are scouring black friday papers. Thanksgiving is almost here. But with all that joy, we can easily find ourselves overwhelmed. So, how does one survive the holiday season without going crazy?
With my family, our holidays looks a little bit different each year. My mother is a nurse so we don’t do the same things every time because she swaps which holiday she works each year. Sometimes, we do a big thanksgiving and some times it’s super simple. Either way, I’ve picked up quite a few tips over the last few years that I wanted to share today.
Tip 1 – Decide who is hosting the holiday.
Simple enough, right? Last year was the first time we celebrated the holidays without my grandmother. We never really had to think about where to go because we all knew we would get severely scolded if we didn’t show up to her place. If your family is traveling in from all over, deciding whether or not you want to host it at someone’s house or renting a cabin is the first step in planning. When I was in high school, we went to Disney for Thanksgiving. It was awesome. No one says you have to stay at home for it to be the holiday.
Tip 2 – Know your strengths.
We are not all Martha Stewart. As much as I try, pulling off the perfect pinterest holiday requires more skills than I alone possess. If you are a master baker and your friend is a beast with the meat, split the duties. One person doesn’t have to cook the entire lot. I’ll be traveling to Atlanta this weekend for friendsgiving. It’s a friend holiday we’ve been hosting for years. And do you know the one thing that makes it work best? We split the menu. We each pick a part we love and share. This way no one goes crazy every time.
Who knows, maybe you are an awesome decorator. Why not host the party? You can make everything look spectacular and let the people who love to cook bring the food. It’s the best of both worlds and everyone gets to enjoy the day.
Tip 3 – Don’t try for an entire new menu on the day.
This is one of my constant tips for new chefs. I love trying out recipes but more often than not, I tweak them. It’s very rare that I make a recipe and love it exactly how it is on the first round. Last year, I broke my own rule. I attempted one too many new recipes at the same time and I was overwhelmed quickly.
If you’re the only chef in the kitchen, test recipes before the day. There is no rule against trying out a stuffing recipe at the beginning of the month so that you don’t want to set fire to the kitchen out of frustration. Plus, the more you make a recipe, the better you get with the timing of everything. You may find you way to use more or less of a certain spice. Maybe, you think it would be better with a different vegetable. You’re eating it. Who’s to say you can’t adjust it to your tastes? Trying new recipes before the day help gurantee you actually like what you’re eating.
Tip 4 – There is no one right way to do the holidays.
Let’s be honest. How many episodes of Gossip Girl did everyone end up eating french fries for Thanksgiving because of the drama? There isn’t some rule that you must have turkey, cranberry sauce and dressing for it to be Thanksgiving. Three years ago, I did a half marathon the morning of. My parents came to ATL because it was my mom’s holiday off. But neither one of us wanted to spend hours in the kitchen when she only had a few days in town and we were feeding 3 people.
So what did we do? We ordered our meal from Whole Foods. From the turkey to the sides, we simplified everything and it was the best idea yet. I was even able to get a vegan meal. While I ran with my friend, my mom heated everything in the oven. Super simple and we still had food for a few days. Now, it’s become our tradition. On the holiday my mom works, we order our meal and pick it up the day or so before we are celebrating. No one has to feel guilty because we still find a way to make it work.
Tip 5 – Prep ahead.
If you can make things the day before, why not do it? Do what you can do to simplify the day so you can enjoy time with family. Maybe that means chopping everything the night before or putting everything together so you only have to bake it the next morning. The more you do ahead the less dishes you have to clean that day.
Whether you celebrate with a group large or small, remember it’s not about the show. The holidays are a reminder of just how lucky we are to have everything (friends, family, pets, etc) in our lives. Don’t get so caught up in the process that you forget the reason you’re all gathered together.
What are some of your favorite family traditions? Do you have any tips for how you make the holidays easier? Leave a note below and let me know.