The holidays can be a stressful time. Lots of parties, cooking, and guests can take a toll. However, if you take some time and plan ahead this holiday season, you might just be able to enjoy the holidays with everyone else. Following are five tips for a stress-free holiday season.
1. Stock a Home Bar
It’s always a good idea to have a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink items for last-minute parties and guests. A home bar is simple to set up and can be as basic or as involved as you like. If you plan ahead and keep several items on hand, you’ll save yourself a trip (or many trips) to the store. Following is a list of potential items to include in a home bar: club soda (small bottles or cans), ginger ale and cola (small bottles or cans), red wine, white wine, champagne, variety of beer, vodka and/or tequila, cranberry juice, pineapple juice, orange juice (can be purchased in small containers that don’t need refrigeration), and a mixed drinks recipe book.
2. Stock Charcuterie Platter Items
A charcuterie platter contains a variety of meats, as well as cheeses, breads, crackers, and olives. Since most of these items have a long shelf life, this makes for an easy dish to throw together last-minute if you keep everything on hand. Hard cheeses like Gruyère and cured meats like salami and pepperoni are good choices. You can find a variety of crackers and cured olives at most grocery stores. If you keep these basics on hand, you can put together a last-minute charcuterie platter that will impress your guests.
3. Plan Your Wardrobe
While making sure that your guests have a variety of foods and drinks is important, you’ll also want to look nice during the holidays. If you take some time beforehand to organize your wardrobe, you’ll be prepared with stunning outfits for any last-minute guests or events. Set aside a place in your closet for favorite dressy items and ensembles. Put together a few outfits you can wear to various scenarios so you're never under pressure to come up with an amazing outfit for a holiday concert or a family outing to the ice rink. By planning ahead, you won’t be stuck with the frustrating “What do I wear?” scenarios.
4. Take Advantage of Frozen Foods
Frozen foods and appetizers have come a long way and are perfect for last-minute parties and guests. You can find them in large quantities at the big membership stores or in smaller boxes in your local grocery store. There are even famous restaurant chains that sell their food in both types of grocery stores. With these frozen items, all you need to do is bake and serve. Find a few of your favorite frozen appetizers and keep them on hand in the freezer. Here are some examples of great frozen food choices: shrimp ring with cocktail sauce, bacon-wrapped scallops, egg rolls and spring rolls, potstickers, mini meatballs, and a quiche assortment.
5. Hostess Gifts and Thank You Cards
Keeping a stash of thank you cards on hand will make the post-holiday season easier. Make sure you have a note pad to write down guest names and any gifts they bring. It’s also a good idea to have a variety of small hostess gifts ready in the event you are invited to a party. Home stores often have a good selection of inexpensive items that make great hostess or swap gifts. Hot cocoa, tea, or coffee with a mug is always a welcome gift. Or, you can stock up on scented candles or pretty dish towels.
With a little bit of preseason planning and by using the above tips, you’ll certainly enjoy a stress-free holiday season.