With the holiday season just weeks away, the anticipation can be exciting and stressful all at the same time. Whether you are hosting for the first time or traveling to be with loved ones, here is your go-to guide for preparing for the holiday season ahead.
Cooking for a crowd can be stressful even if you’re a seasoned pro. However, with a little preparation and a confident attitude you can create a gathering to remember.
As for the food, you’ll want to prep where you can to save stress on the big day. Decide on your meal and create a shopping list well ahead of time. If your friends and family offer, ask them to bring accompanying items like desert, appetizers or even drinks.
Use the day before your big dinner to prep the things you can:
- If you’re making mashed potatoes, peel the potatoes ahead of time, stick them in the pot and let them sit overnight in cold water. When you’re ready, just pop it on the stove. Click for here for a recipe.
- Meats like turkey, steak and ham can be cleaned, trimmed and marinated. Just be sure to stick these back in the refrigerator afterward.
- Throw your salad fixings together in a bowl. You’ll want to avoid adding dressing or any other items that will wilt your lettuce.
- Stuffing is another dish you can make ahead of time. Follow your recipe up to the point of cooking, cover and store in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready, uncover and cook in the oven. Click here for a recipe.
- If you plan on making your dinner rolls from scratch or just using store bought, take the needed steps to prepare the rolls, place them on a baking sheet, cover and pop in the fridge.
- Deserts like pies and cakes can made days in advance and stored properly. This Mocha Cream Pie recipe will earn a standing ovation all on its own.
In many cases, traveling over the holidays can be just as stressful as hosting. We suggest the following:
- Book flights ahead of time to score a great deal.
- Make sure you have all required documentation well ahead of time. This could mean applying for / renewing a passport, getting vaccinations or renewing a driver’s license.
- Make a packing list for each member of the family. Use the weekend before your trip to pack and ensure all items are the list make it into your suitcase.
- If you are giving gifts, decide if you want buy these ahead time and ship them, or buy them when you arrive at your destination. Gift cards are great because you can stick them in a suitcase and the individual can buy what they want.
- Arrange for transportation head of time. Are you driving to the airport, taking an Uber or using a car service? The choice is yours!
- Consider in flight entertainment such as movies, games, coloring books, puzzles, books, snacks, etc. Get these packed and ready to go in your carry on bag.
- If you are traveling with children, consult with your doctor about any medications to alleviate ear pain from the altitude.
- Pets require planning ahead as well. Consult with a vet about any necessary medications, check with the airline on an approved carrier, and pack a bag with food, water, treats and toys.
- Decide on sleeping arrangements. Your family probably wants you to stay with them, but do they have enough room and will you be comfortable? If not, consider a hotel close by and look for deals ahead of time.
- The day before your flight, check in online to save time. On the day of your flight, be sure to arrive at the airport early as the holiday season is a busy time.
What are your holiday preparation tips and hacks? Share them in the comments below.