Plan for a Stress-Free Holiday Meal

Holidays are right around the corner!

If that statement makes you feel stressed, you’re not alone. Holiday traditions can be exciting and fun, but they also present their own unique stressors. Preparing for a large holiday meal can seem overwhelming, but breaking it down into smaller tasks over an extended amount of time can ease the stress. Start planning for your holiday gatherings now with these tips to prevent stressful situations in the coming weeks and allow yourself to truly enjoy time spent with family and friends!  

  • 3-6 Weeks Before: 
    • Take a deep breath. You’ve got this! Just take things one step at a time.
    • Invite your guests and start to get a head count for how many people plan to attend.
    • Ask those who plan to attend if they have a specific item they want to bring to share. This will be one less thing for you to worry about making!
    • Start cleaning out your freezer. You’ll need as much freezer space as possible, so now is the time to prioritize eating (or throwing away) your frozen foods.
    • Plan your menu and write out how much you need of each item.
      • Too much on your list? Ask friends and family members if they would be willing to make anything else on the menu.
        • No takers? Cut down the list or find items that you can buy pre-made instead of making them from scratch. 
  • 2-3 Weeks Before: 
    • Find all of the recipes that you will need and put them in one place where you will easily find them. This will prevent frantic searching at the last minute!
    • Shopping Trip #1 – Buy any utensils and all non-perishables on your list. If you are getting a frozen turkey, buy it now.
    • Make sure you are prioritizing sleep! A lack of sleep is a significant cause of stress. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night so you are ready to take on the next day.
  • 1-2 Weeks Before:
    • Shopping Trip #2 – Buy ingredients you will need for the items you can make ahead of time, any decorations you may want, and plastic bags and containers for leftovers.
      • Ask a friend to come along! Connect with someone ahead of time to get excited together and ask for help on things that are causing you stress.
    • Cook any items that can be easily frozen and thawed the day of or the night before.
  • 3-7 Days Before:
    • If you’re fixing a frozen turkey, start thawing it. (Turkeys take about five hours per pound to thaw and can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days after completely thawed.)
    • Too much left to do? Prioritize the things that you need to do and delegate tasks to others who are attending. 
    • Read over your recipes ahead of time. Make sure that you know how about how long each thing will take so you aren’t panicked if you get to a recipe that tells you to refrigerate overnight!
    • Now is the time to do some house cleaning. Turn on your favorite music and let all your worries fade away!
  • 1-3 Days Before: 
    • Shopping Trip #3 – Did you realize that you forgot something? Don’t worry! Now is the time to pick up perishables and anything left on your list.
    • Cook/bake one or two items a day to cut down on the work you have left to do the day of. Many items can be refrigerated and rewarmed in the oven quickly!
    • It’s almost time for the main event! Manage your time and accept that you cannot do everything at once.
  • Day of: 
    • Defrost and reheat items that you made ahead of time and make any items remaining on your list.
      • If you don’t get through everything you wanted to do, that’s ok! The most important part of this gathering is spending quality time with friends and family. 
    • Set up snacks and appetizers away from the kitchen to cut down on the added stress of a crowded kitchen.
    • Plan a few easy tasks that you can delegate to anyone who wants to help, like having someone put ice in water glasses or set out the silverware.
    • Enjoy all of the delicious food and conversation with friends and family!
  • After:
    • Relax and appreciate the time you spent with the people you care about!
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