Let’s face it, the holidays can be stressful. If you’re thinking you’ll need more Scotch than Scotch tape this holiday season, use these tips from the folks at Kansas City NARI to keep your holidays as stress-free as possible.
1. Change Your Mindset
Everything doesn’t have to be perfect! Cool your jets and just enjoy. If something goes wrong, the buns burn, a drink gets spilled, or someone brings up politics, just take a deep breath and go with it.
2. Expect Annoying Relatives
Instead of letting them annoy you, make it a game. Tell yourself ahead of time that you are unflappable and you have control over how you react. Treat it like a scientific experiment and see what kind of reactions you’ll get by not engaging in typical behavior.
Don’t try to do it all! Delegate food, decorations, grocery shopping, etc. to whomever you can. Make a grocery list and send your spouse. Get older kids to help with decorating or setting the table. Have each family bring a side dish. Have your brother help carry up extra tables and chairs from the basement, etc.
Related Read: 5 Tips for Hanging Holiday Decorations
4. Keep It Simple
Instead of a fancy sit-down meal, try a buffet style instead. Choose low-maintenance appetizers that don’t need reheating (small crock pots are great for keeping hot dips warm). Set up a self-serve beverage bar with cups, drinks, and ice.
5. Go Pre-Made Where Possible
If it’s not a treasured family recipe, don’t sweat it if you have to buy it pre-made. Sometimes you find a new family favorite by accident.
6. Give Store-Bought a Homemade Touch
Dip store-bought cookies in chocolate and roll in sprinkles or make store-bought cookie dough taste like homemade by mixing in candy crumbles, dried fruit, or nuts with the dough before baking. Also, taking store-bought goodies out of their containers and display them on your own cake stand or platter creates a “fauxmade” dessert.
7. Prep the Night Before
Set the table, make dishes that can be prepared and refrigerated overnight, double check your food list, and get a good night’s sleep. It will all help the day go smoother.
8. Leave the Dishes
Unless washing and drying the dishes is a fun family tradition, just rinse and load the dishes and let any crusty dishes soak. It will be there in the morning and you can spend more time with family visiting. Another option is to choose heavy duty paper or plastic plates and flatware.
9. Shop Online
If you haven’t tried it yet, do. Shopping online saves you time, hassle, and gasoline. Give it a shot this year and you’ll become a believer. Save even more when you check out online rewards programs that pay you for shopping like ebates or Mr. Rebates. Also check out Honey which provides current coupon codes for all kinds of purchases online and automatically applies them at checkout.
10. Switch to Gift Bags
Tossing a gift in a gift bag and tucking in some tissue paper is a lot quicker and easier than breaking out the scissors, tape, and wrapping paper. Always have gift bags and tissue paper on hand. You can even use gift bags for food items and hostess gifts.
11. Never Forget a List Again
Are you still depending on paper to make your shopping lists? Stop. Take notes on your phone instead. You’ll always have it with you so you can add to it on the go and you’ll never accidentally leave it at home.
12. Move the Holiday Date
If you find you’re constantly trying to squeeze too much into one day – Christmas with two families, for instance, or having trouble coordinating times with various in-laws’ festivities – check with your family to see if they’d prefer to celebrate the day before, or the day after instead of the actual holiday. If all are in favor, both families win because they get to spend a full day with each side of the family and don’t feel rushed. If you’re the hostess, you get a less stressful day as well. Don’t be afraid to make a new tradition!
13. Take Time to Savor
The holidays get so busy, we tend to rush through them and then they are over before we know it. Take time to enjoy the moment while you’re in it.