We always say it in January:
“I will buy that extra freezer on sale and fill it before Thanksgiving, so I am less stressed in the kitchen and have more time.”
“I will do all my holiday shopping and mailing in November this year; no more lines and parking lot fights, and this will same me some time and stress.”
“This year, I will be more organized for the holidays, so I have more quality time with my friends and family.”
There’s still time to plan and prepare for this year, while paving the way for a peaceful and panic-free holiday next year. Here are 10 tips to use to ready yourself, your house and your family for whatever happens during the holidays:
Food and drink on hand
Keep non-perishable food for last minute guests, quick meals, do-ahead desserts and healthy snacking: Canned sauces and gravies (dress them up with herbs, stock or wine), nuts, trail mix, dried fruit, whole-grain crackers, pretzels, popcorn, pudding and cake mixes and prepared pie crusts will get you from “What’s for dinner?” to “Welcome to dinner!
Beverage choices: To save fridge space, buy smaller-size sodas, juices, bottles of water and sugar-free carbonated drinks and keep a selection cold throughout the holidays. Freeze water bottles for use in coolers when you travel with food or to keep other drinks in the cooler cold during a party.
Don’t forget the fresh foods: Cut carrots, celery and pepper strips, place in bags or containers of water and keep them in the fridge. Bagged salads, complete with toppings and dressings, are a complete meal with the addition of a protein (canned tuna, chicken or salmon make it quick). Hard boil some eggs and keep those handy for salad topping or a fast protein fix.
Batch cook and freeze: Make quantity batches of your family’s favorite foods and freeze them in meal-size portions. Spaghetti sauce, soups, stews, cookie dough and baked goods do well in the freezer when stored properly.
Stay connected, use your calendar
Whether it’s on your phone or a legal pad and pen: Use your smart phone’s digital calendar or voice-activated reminder to manage your day. Keep a paper calendar or pad and pen with you to write down thoughts, ideas and last-minute tasks. The key to staying organized is taking the thoughts from your head and visually prioritizing them.
Delegate what you can and know when to say “No”
If family is home, or you have other help available: Don’t be shy about delegating and assigning tasks over the holidays. School’s out and the office is closed, but that’s not the signal for everyone but you to hit the couch, disappear into their devices and ignore their chores. Use an Advent calendar with pockets, but instead of gifts inside, each pocket has a to-do list for everyone in the house.
Last-minute Gifts Save Time
Re-gifting is fine: But make it look like it’s from the heart. Wrap the gift in nice paper, with beautiful ribbons and a handmade card or label. Check to see if the re-gifted item is something the recipient can use (no alcohol or cigars for a recovering alcoholic or smoker; no perfume for someone with severe allergies).
Watch for sales and start a gift closet stash: Shop seasonal sales: spring and summer clothing in the early fall; winter gear, linens and kitchen appliances in January and computers in September are some of the common gifts to buy and put away for holiday giving.
Gift cards are always welcome: Like re-gifting, make it personal. Find out what the recipient likes to eat or drink, where they shop for clothes or groceries and if they go to the movies. Consider something unusual, like an airline travel gift card. Or for a senior citizen on a limited income and minimal Internet usage, the U.S. Postal Service offers gift cards, prepaid envelopes, attractive stamps and stationery.
But before the day’s activity begins…
Make sure everyone gets good sleep: Every activity, before, during or after the holiday, starts with adequate sleep. Headleveler offers customized pillows for the entire family, in a variety of sizes, thicknesses and prices. We have travel pillows, so you never leave home without taking that perfect rest with you. Find out more about our services and distributors online, and get to know a good night’s rest before you dive into the delights of the holidays.