For some projects, nothing beats lots of time and effort. Things like raising kids, creating a strong marriage, or coaxing those tomato plants along in the summer. For some other projects, however, a few shortcuts are nothing to be ashamed of. As a matter of fact, during this season of hurry and scurry, I’m in love with anything that will help me save time and stress. So raise the kids, build the marriage, but try out these shortcuts if you want to enjoy the holidays with a little more peace. Oh, and you can always peruse the tomato plants in that stack of gardening catalogs after all of the decorations are packed away.
Check out my top 5 shortcuts for a stress free holiday season…
Shortcut #1: Packaged Cookie Mix
Homemade cookies are lovely. You can just taste the time and effort that each cookie has packed into it. But I always have the retirement years to perfect those goodies. Right now while the younger kids are learning how to stir with a spoon and crack an egg, I’m much more likely to grab some boxes of packaged mix from the store shelves. It makes it so much easier to go for that homemade feeling of stirring and cracking, while not having to get out every last ingredient from the pantry. You can also hide the boxes and everyone will think you made them from scratch.
Shortcut #2: Assembly Line Gifts
Hands down, homemade gifts make the best presents. But who has to know that every single person on your list got the exact same present? When you are making that Christmas list, group people into categories and make homemade gifts for each category instead of each individual person. For example, this year all of the aunts and nieces in the extended family are receiving handmade bracelets, while all of the uncles and nephew will be unwrapping handmade leather bookmarks (oh, great…now I just gave away the surprise). Setting up an assembly line with your family is a wonderful way to get everyone involved in making homemade gifts without all the stress and confusion.
Shortcut #3: Online Ordering
There is something to be said about bundling up in coats, pulling together the lists, and schlepping from store to store to do the holiday hunting and gathering. But fortunately, my moral compass prohibits me from writing it. If you really want to go through the month without resorting to prescription anxiety meds, then try out this shortcut. Put on your pajamas, sit in front of your computer, and order your gifts online. It’s so much easier and time-saving. And as an added benefit, you won’t be tempted by those attractive displays so you’re much more likely to save money. And, with the magic of free delivery, you can sit back and watch Christmas appear at your doorstep!
Shortcut #4: Your Local Grocer or Restaurant
Preparing the holiday meals can cook up a lot of stress in the kitchen. Instead of slaving away over a hot stove, consider taking a shortcut and letting your neighborhood grocer do some of the work. Many grocery stores and family restaurants offer family-size dishes to pickup on the day before the big meal. Consider picking up some sides or even the big bird and then plopping it in your own serving dishes for a meal that looks like it was made from scratch. Then you have the time and energy to prepare those few signature dishes that the family can’t do without.
Shortcut #5: Your Freezer
Instead of waiting for those last few days to do the marathon cooking, consider cooking up some of those yummy dishes right now and stocking them in your freezer. Just make sure you pack them tight so there is no risk of freezer burn. When it comes to yummies like pies and cookies, I usually wrap them up tight in plastic wrap and then enclose them in a plastic zippered bag. If you are freezing items that can get messed up by the plastic wrap, such as cakes and casseroles, try this handy tip. Freeze the item first without covering and then pull it out and wrap it up. When you defrost it, it will look perfect!
Enjoy a Stress FREE Holiday!