It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
But it can also be the most stressful one if you don’t manage your time wisely. “Fail to prepare, and you prepare to fail,” and all that jazz. Sounds like something your extremely nitpicky mother (or grandmother, or aunt) would say, but it’s true. A bit of foresight and forward planning can go a long way, especially during the holidays.
With everything that’s been happening this year, thinking ahead might not be a bad idea – especially if you’re hosting Christmas dinner at your place.
From last-minute shopping trips for gifts and groceries to writing Christmas cards (electronic or otherwise) to some heavy-duty meal prep, there are plenty of stress points this time of the year.
So to save you from some of the anxiety-induced flailings, here are some ideas on how you can keep the upcoming holiday dinners as painless as possible.
Plan way, way in advance. Like, a month in advance.
You should start thinking about what to serve for Christmas dinner at least 3 weeks before (if you can do a full month to six weeks, even better). The closer it gets to the day itself, the less chances you’ll have for a “quick, last-minute” trip to the grocery store.
(And, fyi, there’s no such thing as a “quick trip” during the holidays).
If you plan everything in advance, you can buy what you need ASAP and avoid the mad holiday rush.
Review your menu and see if there are any dishes you feel comfortable making and freezing beforehand (you can stick ‘em in the fridge and then just reheat them when the big day comes). Consider buying stuff in bulk, too. Napkins, drinks, party favours, disposable plates and utensils … it’s better to have excess than to risk another trip to the store.
Include delicious, healthy alternative dishes in your menu.
Vegan- and vegetarian-friendly dishes can be just as delicious as their meaty counterparts. Added bonus: they usually need fewer resources and less prep time, too.
How about that?
Consider pasta instead of a meat casserole, for example, or substitute tofurkey for real turkey.
By planning these dish swaps ahead of time, you won’t be worrying on the day itself about your vegan or vegetarian guests having enough to eat. You also won’t compromise the enjoyment of your more meat-inclined companions.
Restock your everyday essentials (especially cleaning materials).
‘tis the season for messes, spills, confetti, and extra glitter. Keep your house spick-and-span (it’ll do wonders for your mental state; trust me) by stocking up on garbage bin liners, garbage bags, paper towels, disposable rubber gloves, and extra-strength, heavy-duty, liquid soap. This way, you’ll always have nearby just in case.
You also don’t want to neglect your everyday essentials. There’s nothing worse than running out of milk on that one morning you decide to have a quick and easy bowl of cereal before you dash off on errands. So stock up on milk (plus skim and soy varieties, for those who need them), coffee, toothpaste, toilet paper, soap, shampoo, body wash, etc.
Even if they have nothing to do with the dinner you’re hosting, having these little items in bulk and on-hand will leave your mind free to focus on something else.
Consider meal delivery services for the side dishes.
We know, we know. Home-cooked is usually the way to go, especially during the holidays. There’s just something about seasonal dinners that make people whip out great-great-great grandmas recipe book. However. Practically speaking, you can save a lot of time and energy if you use a meal delivery service for the starters or side dishes.
By doing so, you:
- Save yourself the additional stress of boiling and mashing the potatoes (or basically extra meal prep)
- Potentially help a local business
- Have more time to focus on (and perfect) the main dishes
Note: if you go this route, make sure to place an order well in advance, too. Don’t let the caterer panic on Christmas Day – that’s not cool.
Don’t forget to enjoy yourself.
Finally, don’t lose sight of the spirit of the season.
Whether you’re out shopping for ingredients and gifts, cleaning your house a week before Christmas, or putting the final finishing touches on your holiday roast, find a way to appreciate the season. Stop to admire the Christmas decorations stores put up. Have your fave Christmas tunes playing while you clean. Turn chores into games the whole family can play.
You’re not doing yourself any favours if you look at the prep needed as one big chore after another. But if you find a way to enjoy these activities, that’s less stress and anxiety for you to deal with.
So while your loved ones are chatting and mingling, sit back and relax with a glass of your favourite drink. All your prep and planning means you’ve earned yourself a stress-free Christmas dinner.
If you’d like to find out how Hearty Health can help keep you eat well and feel, or find out more about how you can get Hearty Health ready meals direct to you or at your facility, simply call 1300 728 764 or email firstname.lastname@example.org