Holidays make everyone just a little crazy no matter what your situation. Between parties , baking, cooking, cleaning and shopping it feels like every year the time to get ready needs to be extended just to fit it all in. With so much to do to get ready and if you have small children even more to do just make the entire season fun filled and magical. Here is the big question how do you get ready for this season without wanting to crawl into the corner with your bottle of wine and rock back and forth. I have found myself getting busier and busier every holiday that passes and needing to find ways to make the season more magical and fun for everyone as we get older and the magic of the season loses its sparkle for reality. This means I need to get organized sooner and get my prep on earlier in order to make the season more fun for myself as well.
Since fall is my favorite season with all the crunchy leaves and change of smell in the air I like to start all my prep just a little before this so I can enjoy the outside as much as possible. So let’s say around mid September it all begins.
First things first PREP! This is like taking your weekly meal prep a smidge further than normal. I start by making sauces, soups, stews and freezer meals for my husband and myself. These things will help when the nights come early and get cold. When the thought of having to go home in the dark cold and wet and start cooking something to warm you up just seems like a lot of work these meals will come in handy. So here is a list of things I stuff into my freezer and make ready to go!
Chicken Soup/Carrot Soup/Squash Soup/Any soup – Soup is a great! One of my favorite things to eat, it is also great for a light healthy meal that can be paired with a salad or sandwich for a little something extra.
Stew – There are so many different kinds that making 2 or 3 small batches of different kinds keeps things interesting and a little heartier.
Pot Pies – Chicken, Beef, and Vegetarian – pop in the oven and go.
Apple Sauce/ Cranberry Sauce – If you see a sale on fresh apples or cranberries buy them. Then when you have that big meal you can just take it out of the freezer and boom you’re ready to go.
I know all these things require a lot of work and stuff at the time but this is why I like to do a little at a time to build up the stock pile. Once a week I pick an item and prep a big batch, put it in Tupperware or glass jars and freeze away. This is also a great time to start the prep for all of that Christmas baking so that you can look like the sane domestic goddess/god of the holidays when everyone else is panicking over the next cookie exchange or potluck they have to go to. I love to have these staples in my freezer ready for whatever pops up.
Freezable cookie dough – I have a least 8 logs of cookie dough in my freezer that I pre-mix. All they need it to be cut and baked when the need arises. You can even make them into balls and put them into a freezer bag so its already portioned.
Pie Dough – This is great to have ready to go in your freezer! If you have the space you can make and freeze entire ready to bake pies as well but if not just having the dough ready to go helps cut down on the mess and fuss.
Breadcrumbs – Bread ends – keep your bread ends and dry them out in the oven. Once this is done run them through the food processor to make your own bread crumbs.
Fruit/berries – If you travel in the summer or find a great deal on berries or fruit stock up – clean them and prep them. Throw them into a freezer bag and freeze, this way all winter you can just pull out some great berries for pies or other baking. If not into prepping you can also buy what they sell in the stores,just try and wait for a great sale as they do get pricey!
Another little trick is to keep your cake scraps throughout the year and make rum balls with them! You can make them at any time and be ready to go just thaw and boom! You have something in a pinch to bring to that holiday party you forgot about.
Keeping the crazy hat off during the holiday season is all about planning and being the holiday boy scout. I have met a lot of people that by the end of the season (around new years) everyone is feeling broke , exhausted and drained. No real magic there now is there?
Planning ahead is the key, which I know sounds simple in theory but takes time planning and work so that when you hit December 1st you have it in the bag!
Try and keep it to an item a week this way your not going crazy trying not to go crazy at that defeats the whole point of the exercise. The planning also extends to other things like gifts. September great time to shop since a lot of things are on sale because of back to school. If you can slowly start knocking off your list of people you buy for early then by time time everyone else is just starting to think about and stress over price tags you are done and wondering what pretty wrapping paper to get.
Christmas cards is my big time killer! I love sending out cards but with postage going up and the list of recipients growing every year I am thinking this year I will start sending out E-Cards to friends I might not be as close with or that I know are not attached to receiving the physical card. This will cut down on time and the cost of sending out holiday greetings to family and friends and save your poor wrist from cramping!
So to recap !
Plan ahead with gifts and food!
Do not take on too much at once! – Try and pick one thing a week to work on
Start early! – Giving yourself more time does not mean decorating your house before halloween (though if you want to you can). It means taking things that might seem like huge tasks and breaking them down and spacing them out. Preparing treats and meals ahead and freezing them helps save you from stress and preventing some bad out of time food choices.
I hope this helps someone out there have a slightly less stressful holiday and gives some ideas on how to do so.