Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday
November 19, 2014
Don’t sweat the small stuff, be prepared for this fun holiday
Have a Stress-Free Holiday
Thanksgiving is not just about stuffing your face (although food is an integral part of the magic of Thanksgiving). Thanksgiving is a family holiday; it’s a time to be grateful, not get stressed out over the not-quite- perfect latticework on the apple pie or the salt missing from the mashed potatoes. Let us help you with some more tips to make this year’s Thanksgiving stress-free.
Of course you want to try to do everything and please everyone, but Thanksgiving should also be enjoyed. Try something a little different this year and delegate. It’s hard to relinquish some control, but it will make Thanksgiving a much less stressful experience. Maybe make the holiday meal a potluck party. But if you really must make everything, assign tasks: ask the kids to set the table, let Uncle Mike carve the bird, and have Cousin Jane pour the cocktails.
People say to make dishes ahead of time or prep a few days before, but sometimes that’s easier said than done. This Thanksgiving, actually listen to that advice to make Turkey Day easy as pie. Make that jalapeño cornbread stuffing and that brandied cranberry sauce and your other holiday favorites in advance. Even those beautiful baked goods might be that much tastier the next day.
The days before Thanksgiving at the grocery store can seem like a sporting event with shoppers fighting for that last free- range turkey in the freezer. Be a champ and hit the stores early. It’s a sure way to avoid those nasty lines and to stock up on key Thanksgiving ingredients before they run out. It also gives you time to pick items you might have forgotten. Just make sure to grab perishable goods right before it’s time to use them.
Occupy the Kids
Things can get a little wild at home during Thanksgiving; the big game is on the tube, there’s chaos in the kitchen, and then there’s the kiddos. They don’t know what to do with themselves. Keep them occupied so they stay out of your hair. Try offering games or movies. You can even set them up with Thanksgiving crafts. The kids should not be what you’re worried about this holiday.
Skip Complicated Appetizers
Your guests know that Thanksgiving is going to be a feast. No need to complicate things further with fancy hors d’oeuvres and elegant appetizers. Make Thanksgiving a tad bit easier by serving simple starters like nuts, olives, figs, or pears and prosciutto with some nice wine or bubbly.
Do Not Test a New Recipe on Guests
Just because your favorite food bloggers are adding recipes to their roster, doesn’t mean you have to. Thanksgiving is not the best time to experiment. Face it; you already have a ton of other things to do to get the usual suspects ready for Turkey day.
Try Out New Recipes and Equipment Beforehand
But if you’re inspired by an irresistible recipe on The Daily Meal and think that it would be the perfect addition, try it out before the holiday rolls around. Same thing goes for new equipment. There’s nothing more stressful than a recipe gone bad or a machine malfunction when all eyes are on you.
Make Recipes Accessible
Thinking up the menu is one thing; actually making it is something else. Get your recipes into order so things are easier when it’s time to produce. Gather up all those recipes from all of the places you’ve tucked them away and make copies or print them out from the internet. Tape the recipes to cabinets at eye level or use magnets to stick them on the hood above the range, to keep them accessible and available. This will also save counter space (whew)! Think ahead and save the printouts by putting them in a binder for next Thanksgiving.
Get Enough Sleep
Stress can definitely drain you, especially around the holidays, when you’re doing your best to impress and make sure that the Thanksgiving feast is impeccable. All that work (preferably ahead of time) will have been in vain if you are too tired. Getting enough sleep leading up to Thanksgiving is essential to keeping stress and grumpiness to a minimum. A good night’s sleep will leave you refreshed to take on the holiday.
Empty Out Fridge
Since you should be shopping ahead of time, clearing out your fridge a couple days before the turkey showdown is not a bad idea. Getting rid of everything but the essentials allows for more room for necessary ingredients and the week’s worth of leftovers you’re going to have. Another benefit of doing
Consider Alternative Heating for Sides
That monster of a bird can dominate your oven and even if you did everything right (prepping, baking, and cooking in advance), there still can be a traffic jam. Don’t stress, there are other ways to keep foods hot. A gas grill can come in handy as a warming oven. Storing gravy in a thermos will ensure it stays hot, and using a crock-pot can keep your mashed potatoes warm. Putting hot pots in the microwave will maintain their warmth for about a half hour, and an insulated cooler can retain heat holding your hot covered pots or stacked foil dishes. With a little ingenuity, Thanksgiving is saved.
Keep A General Head Count
To make sure you have enough food, space, and drinks, try to keep a head count for your Thanksgiving dinner. Even though the numbers might fluctuate, having a good idea of who’s coming will make preparations and day of activities less problematic. Remember to err on the side of too much food (more leftovers, yes!).