Remember when you were a kid? Dominated by the school year, one single annum felt like an eternity. The time between Christmasses felt like entire lifetimes; now you’re more likely to wonder how it could have crept up so soon!
And as we navigate through Hallowe’en and into November, the holiday period starts to rear its welcoming and somewhat calorific head. With celebrations, gatherings with friends and family, and nights out on the table, you might be glad to know that you’re not the only one who panics when they think about all of the extra preparation.
So, in this article, we’re going to explore some expert holiday cheats. We’re going to share ways of preparing in advance so you can actually enjoy the celebrations; rather than confining yourself to the party planner’s desk.
Grab something pumpkin spiced, put your feet up, and let us navigate you through this potentially stressful time of year.
Acknowledge what you CAN do
First things first: you only have so much time. There’s still the day job, the laundry, the cooking and cleaning, and those DIY jobs – all just to keep the house from falling apart! And it’s not like the world stops for two months every year.
So, recognize you have a finite amount of time. And when those invitations start rolling in, take a little time to prioritize.
Create a planning notebook
Grab yourself a notebook and create a two-month calendar for yourself. Note down the important dates and events, and identify schedule clashes and gaps in time in between.
List the jobs you will need to do in preparation for significant events like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year; then prioritize them. All great managers get other people to do the heavy lifting, so consider who you have on hand for delegation duties.
If you’re visiting relatives for one of the big events, find out what you need to take with you. Don’t leave buying that turkey till the last minute! Write everything down – it might feel intimidating initially, but it’s all part of the process of easing the burden.
Update your holiday calendar
Whenever you receive an invite for any event, write it down in your planner. This way, it’s easier to see if there are schedule conflicts.
It could just be a coffee meeting with a pal, or it could be something bigger like a school nativity or holiday show. Again, prioritize each event before deciding what’s possible.
Remember: a coffee meeting might seem insignificant, but time for yourself is crucial – so don’t just prioritize your events around what others expect of you!
Emotional Management for the Holidays
Chances are, you’ll be meeting up with a whole host of friends and family that you see once a year. Sometimes, it feels like you don’t see them enough; other times, once a year is too much.
Everyone wants to have a great time during the Holidays, but it sometimes feels like Great Aunt Mable goes out of her way to be difficult. So, preparing yourself emotionally is essential.
Think about the people who trigger annoyance or frustration.
Predict what they’re likely to do or say, and prepare your responses beforehand.
Remember: retaliation and a great one-liner might be super-satisfying to deliver but isn’t necessarily what we’re looking for here. We’re looking for minimal confrontation.
Be the bigger person – acceptance is sometimes better than transformation. Prepare yourself for the onslaught and bite your tongue (if you can).
Plan your escape
Have a way of avoiding conflict. Go to a different room and take a breather.
If you’re at home, sneak off to your bedroom and punch a cushion; if you’re away from home, take deep breaths in the bathroom.
Add these strategies to your Holiday Planner
Remember, this is all preparation. Write everything down in your planner (just don’t let Great Aunt Mable see it!).
Plan your gift budget
The Holiday season is expensive, and it’s great to give wonderful gifts. But think ahead – to January, in particular – when the credit card bill is going to land on your mat.
We all think that people want expensive presents, but – actually – what do you give someone who already has everything? When you reach adulthood, it can be challenging to think of a single thing you want for Christmas – and most of us are the same.
Think of the planet, and avoid buying little crappy plastic gifts that provide a momentary laugh – it’ll end up stuffed in a drawer and, ultimately, dug into landfill sooner or later.
Think about gifts that actually mean something. I don’t mean getting creative with the pasta shells here – just think about things that people who have everything will really like and enjoy.
Make something for them they wouldn’t make for themselves, like:
- Honeycomb – it’s much easier to make than you expect, and everyone loves a sweet treat!
- A food hamper – include some fancy pesto and olive oils and maybe a bottle of something fizzy. Save the planet by collecting your items together in a biodegradable case.
- Flavored gin or vodka – it’s super-simple to make gin from a bottle of cheap vodka. Just steep your botanicals in vodka for a month or so, and you’ll have a delightful, bespoke gin to give to your pals.
- Chocolate truffles – again, really easy to make, and – let’s face it – who doesn’t love chocolate?
- A cheese-making kit – this is one you’ll need to buy, but they’re not expensive. If you’ve never made homemade halloumi, you haven’t lived. There’s nothing more calming than gently warming the milk and watching the curds appear. So calming – whoever receives this gift will love you forever.
Remember, the holidays are supposed to be fun.
So, here’s a list of things you can do in advance to ensure you don’t find yourself locked in the kitchen all season.
- Did you know that you can prepare your roast potatoes up to a month in advance! Incredible but true – follow this recipe for golden roasties.
- Make your cranberry sauce a week before the big day. It keeps in the fridge perfectly.
- You might not have tried the British Yorkshire pudding – and if you haven’t, you’re missing a Holidays treat. And they can be made up to a month in advance and frozen!
- Pigs in blankets are genuinely a Holidays favorite and can be pre-prepared and frozen, ready for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
- Make your gravy up to three months before you need it. Just add the juices from your turkey when you reheat it for a truly luxurious treat.
- Everyone loves chestnut & cranberry stuffing. And when you can make it up to a month in advance, there are no last-minute panics!
Get in the Holidays spirit
Sure, it might be a little early to get in the Holidays spirit, but if you plan ahead, you’ll find that this year’s festivities won’t be quite so stressful.
Have a fabulous Holiday season.