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How to Make Your Holiday Meal Stress Free

The holidays can be a stressful time.  Many people feel stressed just thinking about preparing a family holiday meal.  Are you wishing you could just stay in bed and play on the world’s best online casinos rather than prepare this year’s holiday meal for your friends and family?

Luckily, there are some simple things that you can do that will make your holiday meal more enjoyable and less stressful than it has ever been.

Get a Headcount

Touch base with all your friends and family who you have invited and let them know you need a headcount by a specific date.  Knowing exactly who will be sharing your holiday meal with you at least a week in advance will help tremendously.  Much of the time, knowing what to expect has half the battle and will help you control stress.

Consider Help

Once you have a headcount, consider asking people for help.  Would it be helpful to have the meal potluck style?  If so, ask everyone to bring a side dish to share.  Would it be helpful to have friends or family come over and help you prepare food?  If so, let them know that you need their help now.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

Plan the Menu

Before you even have your headcount, create your menu.  Consider appetizers, your main meal, and dessert.  Create a plan that you are comfortable with and stick to it.  Promise yourself that you will not take any more than your finalized menu.

Once you have the menu, make a shopping list.  Go through each item you plan to make and ensure you have all the ingredients that you need.  Go over the list a couple of times to avoid missing anything.  A great shopping list will help make the trip as quick as possible and reduce stress while cooking.

Get Ahead

If there are dishes that you can make ahead of time, do it!  There are many casseroles and side dishes that can easily be prepared a day or two ahead of time and then be reheated in time for the meal.  Look at your menu and consider what can safely be made ahead of time.  Choosing to make a couple of dishes a day or two ahead of time really can help you manage your time (and stress!) better.

Consider chopping vegetables or prepping as many ingredients as possible the day before the meal to reduce meal prep time the day of your holiday meal.

Create a Schedule

Look at your menu and decide how much time you need to prepare each dish.  Add 10 minutes to each dish just to give yourself plenty of cushion.  Look for areas where you can multi-task.  For instance, if two dishes need chopped onions, chop them all at the same time.  Or, if two dishes can be baked at the same temperature, prep them so they can be baked

It might even help to write out your schedule so you can know, at a glance, how you are doing for time.

Embrace Challenges

If you find that you are falling behind schedule a bit, embrace it.  Let your family know that they may need to enjoy a drink or two and some conversation while you finish the meal.  Approach challenges in a lighthearted way.  Remember that you can only control so much, so if the turkey is taking longer than expected, laugh it off, as getting upset will not fix it.

Remember What It’s All About

At the end of the day, if the food isn’t perfect, that’s ok!  Your holiday meal is about spending time with your friends and family you have invited to share your holiday meal with you.  Great food and a timely meal are awesome, but what is more awesome is the memories you are sure to make when you share your meal.

When you plan well and keep in mind that the whole point of the meal is togetherness, stress can be greatly reduced.  Following these tips may just help make this year’s holiday meals the most enjoyable to make, serve and eat!