Stress and the Holidays: A few tips to ensure a successful get together

I posted this article last year and wanted to update it and repost because the information is timeless.

It is so nice to have people over during the holidays. It should be a time of enjoying your family and friends but by the time the big day arrives however, you are usually too tired and weary to enjoy the food and the company. Here are a few tips that I have learned over the years that will help you to enjoy your holiday season with your love ones.

1. This is the biggest! Plan way ahead of time. Like right now would be a good time to get started on those plans. Get your invitations, guest list with phone numbers and email addresses all lined up. If you haven’t done so already, get those invitations in the mail or email them and be prepared to follow up with a phone call to those who plan on coming but haven’t responded yet.

2. This one is huge also! As we all know the menu is one of the most stressful task to accomplish! By planning ahead and creating your menu early you will know exactly what items you need to buy. Every time you go to the grocery store, pick up an item or two. If it’s in the store don’t talked yourself out of buying it by saying, “It’s too far out. I shouldn’t buy it this early.” If you see it, it’s meant for you! Get it! You will be amazed how buying an item here or there before the big day can relieve the hassle of buying everything all at once; it so reduces the holiday stress.

3. 2 weeks prior to the big day, send out another email/phone call reminder. Get a commitment from your guests about what dish they are bringing and let them know how much will be needed. If it’s a large gathering, so as not to overburden anyone, have more than one person bring a particular dish.

4. If you have adult children at home or even children in college who come home for the holiday, get them involved. Don’t, I repeat, don’t do all of the work yourself. You will be amazed at how easy and care free the cooking can be when you share it with others instead of you being the star. When I began to share the cooking responsibility with my children my kitchen time during the holidays became a breeze. I kept saying to myself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner? Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Sometimes as mothers, we think we have to do it all. Sure the children are used to Mama doing everything and loves Mama’s cooking… but guess what, children grow up and mama needs a rest! So be sure you share the responsibility. In my home someone bakes, someone make a favorite side dish or two and I usually end up cooking the main meat and maybe a few more side dishes. My children and I have learned how to navigate the kitchen with all hands on deck!

5. If you’re making beans or greens-and if you are African-American, you will be making beans or greens! (Lol). Make them at least 3 days ahead, and freeze them. Better yet, the night before, put them in a slow cooker and let them cook over night if you are the type of person who like to have things freshly made. A slow cooker saves time and energy.

6. 2 days before, do your heavy chopping if you need lots of vegetables like garlic, onions, celery, bell peppers, etc. and put them in a sealed, airtight container and place in the refrigerator until ready to use. Don’t forget to thaw out your frozen meats that you will be cooking for the holiday. It is recommended that you thaw out your turkey at least 2-3 days in advance in the refrigerator.

7. The night before, decide how you want to lay out your food. For example, identify where the dessert table will be, the drink table, etc., if you are dining buffet style which is my favorite way to do it. We don’t do formal dining in my house.

8. The day of the big event, get up, stroll into the kitchen, and make a nice breakfast for you and your family. The heat is off. You’ve got everything under control. Finish your breakfast, clear away the dishes and begin your final details. Leave enough time so you can shower, change clothes and relax a little before your guests arrive.

9. Almost forgot, have a runner. A few days prior, identify the person who will do the last minute running around when you don’t have enough of xyz....In all honesty, that’s usually the husband’s job. Men, accept your fate! Resistance is futile! The same goes for teenagers who don’t cook but have a driver’s license: the last minute running around is their contribution!

See how preplanning can save the day! It alleviates a lot of last minute worry and stress.


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