5 Functional Ways to Have a Stress-Free Holiday Season

The holiday season is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can easily turn into the most stressful time of the year. Out-of-town guests, copious amounts of cooking, and seemingly endless shopping trips are enough to turn even the most seasoned holiday hostess into the Grinch. Stay sane and stress-free with these simple hostess tips:

1. Have a holiday game plan. 

Having a plan of action is a good idea if you’re cooking Christmas dinner, throwing a holiday party, or hosting a neighborhood cookie swap. Making a master list of everything that needs to get done will make pulling the event off seem a lot less overwhelming. If you’re cooking dinner, create a cooking schedule. Write out when and how long dishes will need to be in the oven that way there aren’t any surprises the day of the party or dinner. Enlist the help of your spouse, kids, or friends to help rearrange furniture, decorate, or set out extra tables and chairs, then write down the name of the person in charge of helping with each task. 

2. Create a holiday budget. 

Creating a holiday budget may seem like it’ll put a damper on the holiday glitz and glamor, but come January 1st you’ll be glad you set financial boundaries. If you’re hosting a party, factor in costs for decorations, food and alcohol, as well as any party rentals. Hosting family for the holidays? Create a budget for meals, paper products, and presents to avoid any unexpected expenses. 

3. Stock kitchen cabinets with staples.

Keep a stockpile of staples in your kitchen cabinets to avoid having to run out at the last minute in traffic—a sure holiday stresser. Flour, sugar, eggs, and milk are good staples to keep on hand. If you have family coming for the holidays make sure to keep extra toilet tissue, hand soap, and personal items in your bathroom vanities and cabinets so guests can easily find them—without having to awkwardly ask. 

4. Handle high kitchen traffic like a pro. 

The kitchen is a natural gathering place during the holidays—because that’s where all the yummy food is kept! Prepare your kitchen in advance for the extra foot (and food!) traffic, so you don’t get stressed out when it gets crowded. Carve out space on your countertops and in your kitchen cabinets—you’ll need the extra space when stockpiling holiday staples and for putting out holiday treats friends bring by. Keep holiday cooking must-haves like cutting boards and sheet pans in reach (but off the counter) with kitchen cabinet organizers. If you think you’ll need extra prep space, consider a kitchen island or cart that can also function as a bar cart or serving area. 

5. Prep food in advance. 

Prepping food in advance is key to keeping the holidays less stressful. Make a list of all the dishes that can be made or partially assembled ahead of time, along with the ingredients you’ll need for them. Chop and dice onions, carrots, celery, and any other ingredients that’ll hold up well in the fridge for a few days. Salad dressings, dessert sauces, and whipped cream can be prepared a couple of days prior to the event too. Bake pies, cakes, and cookies the night before. Pies can be warmed in the oven right before the party. 

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