12 Ways to Take the Stress Out of the Holiday Entertaining Season

With Thanksgiving just two days away, we’re approaching the official start of the holiday season. It seems as though every year it sneaks up on me and all of a sudden I’m in panic mode. Each gift must be thoughtfully bought or made, each person who comes by our home during the month of December is greeted with a homemade treat to take home with them, and each meal that is prepared for guests is done so affectionately, so they can leave remembering how delicious and festive the meal was. There is so little time to get everything done and yet, I still tend to get wrapped up in the details of entertaining. Although it’s always been my absolute favorite time of year, I’m always trying to shake off the stresses that I place on myself. As we discussed last week in the  Thanksgiving for Six People Under $60 series, the holidays are easy to go overboard with, but it’s so important to come back to what really matters: spending time with people we care about. Since I tend to need a good reminder of this lesson every year, I thought I’d share with you a few tips on how we can all enjoy the holiday season and take the stress out of holiday entertaining.

12 Ways to Take the Stress Out of the Holiday Entertaining Season

12 Ways to Take the Stress Out of the Holiday Entertaining Season

    1. Plan week night meals in advance. When you already have a lot on your mind, taking this task off your to do list will make entertaining during the week that much easier.
    2. Make meals (or portions of meals) ahead of time or opt for simple quick cooking meals. Doing much of the prep work on the weekend, like chopping vegetables or cooking a large batch of chicken will make meals come together much quicker – giving you more time to get back to the planning and executing of a great get together.
    3. Don’t go hungry. Eat normal meals as you would any other day to avoid overeating. This one I almost always fail at every year. I don’t eat enough during the day, because I’m saving room for the big event and then wind up overeating and feeling sluggish through the remainder of the day. Do your friends and your jeans a favor and keep your metabolism up all through the day so you can still eat what you want, but not feel awful about it later.
    4. Stay hydrated. If you plan on drinking at a holiday party, be sure to alternate drinking water with alcoholic beverages to keep you on your feet through the party and to still feel good the next day.

  • Take a moment at each gathering to take it all in and really enjoy yourself. If you’re doing the cooking and hosting the big event, this is one of the hardest things to do, because you probably have a lot on your mind anyway. But if you can even slow down for just a few minutes just to relish in having people you love around you and be proud of the event you were able to put together, you’ll feel so much better about all the effort you went to to putting the event together.
  • Make take home gifts in advance and choose items you can make once that will last all month long. Spend one day or one weekend putting together all the gifts you intend on giving (make sure they aren’t perishable in a short time frame) so they’re at the ready when people stop in or when you’re out the door to someone else’s party. (Check back in the first week of December – I’ll be posting a few of my favorite food gift ideas!)
  • Remember to defrost the turkey. This seems like a ‘duh’ comment, but just about every year that I attend Thanksgiving at my parent’s house, my mom is spending the first hour after we arrive with the turkey in the sink or the bathtub trying to get it to thaw. Obviously, this makes for comedic relief, but probably isn’t what she wants to show off to people arriving at her house.
  • Consider a cocktail party instead of a sit down dinner. Prepare only a few options to serve to your guests, like three to five hors d’oeuvres and two drink options to pare down on all the prep work, but still have time to see and spend time with your friends.
  • Opt for small holiday gatherings. I covered this a few weeks ago, but by paring down the guest list, you’ll save yourself a nice bit of sanity and some money too!
  • Create areas where guests can help themselves to drinks or hors d’oeuvres. This will take the burden off of you to play host and bar tender right away and will buy you some time to finish up dishes that need to be prepared right before hitting the table.
  • Follow the 5 Turkey Day tips found in this series. Over the course of last week, I shared some of my favorite tips for stress-free entertaining – be sure to check them out.
  • Consider spanning the festivities early and late so you don’t burn out. Think you need to see everyone you know before January 1st? Most friends and family won’t mind delaying the festivities a few weeks into January, as long as they get to spend time with you. Plus, this might help them to keep their holiday season a little more relaxed, as well! Keep the good times flowing into January to keep your sanity and still have a good time.

 

When you prepare a little bit in advance, remember the all important things (like defrosting the turkey), and spend a little time now to put some of the weekly tasks (like week night meals) on autopilot, getting through the holiday entertaining season can be a lot simpler and low key. I hope you make it through all the parties, the food, and celebrating with company with a smile on your face and a clear mind. Photo Source