by Sarah the Tea Mistress
I love fall but it never seems to last long enough. I love Christmas carols but hate when they start playing during Halloween. I love the holidays in general but hate feeling stressed and rushed.
Of course if tea has taught us anything, it is that simple can be amazing. The easiest way to keep the holidays stress free is to keep them simple. Let's get started!
Do you go all out for Halloween?
Use hay as the base for your decorations: with plastic spiders and pumpkins it says spooky Halloween but add gourds and a pumpkin and it is easily converted to fall harvest
Build your costumes out of what you already own: The internet is full of ways to make a quick costume without sewing or shopping. Something as simple as a black t-shirt, duct tape, and a plastic fork can become a witty costume (break up duct tape into small rectangles and line them up vertically down the shirt, add the fork under one strip). Suddenly you are a fork in the road!
Enjoy the great outdoors: Handing out candy this year can be a pleasant retreat from the busy fall season. Brew a cup of warm or cold tea (warm is necessary in the Midwest but if you live close to Joy's Teaspoon headquarters you might want to keep it cool a little while longer) and sit outside with a bowl of candy. Sip, hand out candy and enJOY.
Combine chores with festivities: I love those pumpkin trash bags that are meant to be filled with leaves, it is the perfect combo of chore and decoration. Of course piled leaves also offer an unbeatable play source and sight of major family fun as well.
Is Thanksgiving your favorite holiday?
Menu, menu, menu: Planning here will lead to a stress free day. Keep the menu simple but classic. Choose one dish to experiment with if you have a culinary reputation to uphold. Better to nail one dish that will leave family and friends in a taste bud euphoria. Consider surprising your most eager eaters with carrots and dill in the mashed potatoes, a hand blended spice rub on the turkey, or a sweet potato cupcake in lieu of the traditional casserole.
Pre and Post Chores: Make holiday cleaning a family event. Put on some great tunes, no matter what you like blare it loud and proud for all to hear. Don't be afraid to ask family and friends to peel potatoes or clean the turkey. Make a list of what needs to be done, let people pick what they are willing to work on. Music and good conversation make any chore an event.
Plan time to Relax: Entertaining at the holidays can be non-stop, but after much hard work you need time to relax. Set the scene and everyone will follow along. Brew a pot of tea (make some coffee for your less refined guests), lay out books and magazines (quiet time coloring books for kids), invite everyone to sit and sip. It is amazing what even a quiet half hour can do to help you recharge.
Decorate with edibles: a well decorated table can be fun at the holidays but a chore to put together and clean up. Let your food speak for itself this year. Put food out in large serving dishes on the table and let the gleam of a crispy turkey skin, the glisten of cranberries, and texture of mashed potatoes decorate your table, on a simple tablecloth that can be easily shaken off and tossed in the washing machine.
Already sleepless anticipating the tapping of reindeer hooves?
Everything fits in a casserole dish: Pick a few meals like Christmas day lunch and Christmas Eve dinner for a tasty casserole or crock pot meal. Both options give you the opportunity to put the ingredients together and simply reheat the day of. Keeps you off your feet and out of the kitchen.
Have a plan, work the plan: Don't procrastinate this year. Make an exhaustive list of who you shop for and start jotting down gift ideas now. This way you can spread out the shopping which is easier on the wallet, order items online without rushing delivery, and keeping those hard to shop for members of your family on the radar whenever you go out. Start now and you even have time to make gifts.
Wrap it up: I love a good gift wrapping party, a mound of wrapping supplies, pile of gifts, and some freshly brewed tea. However, I know a certain person at Joy's Teaspoon (her name starts with an N and ends with aomi) who hates wrapping. If you are like me, live it up and go all out, mix papers, ribbons, and even fabric. Make a day or event of it. If you are like she who shall not be named, wrap as you go. Get one giant roll of paper, matching bows, gift tags, tape, scissors, and pen and put them all on a table that is out of the way but easily accessed (set up a card table for a few weeks if you need to). As soon as you have a gift complete wrap it and tag it. Doing it little bits at a time takes away the pressure of a growing gift pile.
Remember the reason for the season: Christmas is about family, resting, celebrating, and JOY! Don't fill your calendar with anything that does not relate to one of these four things. This is easy to say and hard to do but imagine a holiday season filled with things you like, then put your energy into the activities that will make it that way.
Got any great holiday tips that you might like to share?