5 Ways to Slow Down This Holiday Season

This post is by Rachael of KitchenCourses.com.

The holidays are always about good food, relaxation, and family. Or at least, that’s how we pretend they are. For most people, the reality is that the holidays are a chaotic time of last-minute preparing and entertaining, stressful shopping, eating poorly, and ultimately being exhausted by the “most wonderful time of the year.”

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the chaos that ensues the stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas. But with a few days off and people we care about coming together, we should be relishing in this time instead of trying to shift our attention to what we’re told is important.

While all your friends and family are buzzing in and out of stores, eating a few too many pieces of pumpkin pie, and hosting tons of holiday parties, you’ll be set with these five ways to slow down this holiday season.

1.    Plan meals and food gifts ahead

Cooking for the holidays

Image copyright Noam - Fotolia.com

Set aside a few hours on a weekend to plan out your meals through the month so you can have peace of mind and not have to worry about last-minute planning or be tempted to order takeout. Take it one step further and prep some of your ingredients in advance. Think about chopping vegetables for meals later in the month, then freezing them. Or preparing slow cooker meals and placing in freezer bags, so on a busy day, you can defrost the ingredients and toss them right into your slow cooker with almost no effort.

If you plan on giving out any type of food gifts, like cookies or quick breads, prepare these early as well. Many cookie batters and baked cookies and quick breads will freeze fantastically for up to a few months. Get started now and you won’t have to think about it again until it’s time to start handing them out.

2.    Determine your priorities and be okay with saying “no”

If you’re often bombarded with too many requests for get-togethers or family events, take some time to write down what your priorities are. List the events you know are coming up and the ones you’re certain you will make time for in your calendar. Write down three goals for the season and if an event doesn’t meet one of the goals, be okay with declining the invitation.

3.    Shop at home or give handmade gifts

For so many of us, the holidays are more about shopping and gifting than they are about savoring the time we have surrounded by the people we care about. Flip this notion and vow to do all your shopping online from home, or create handmade gifts, so you don’t have to worry about fighting crowds or getting frustrated not finding the perfect item for someone.

The go-to solution whenever I can’t think of a gift to give someone is to make something. I tend to favor food gifts and handmade crafts, but you could also just write a nice letter to someone or find a photo of the two of you and having it framed. The more thoughtful gifts we give this year, the better we can feel about giving them out.

4.    Start a brand new tradition this year

Make it a point to start a tradition to take in some of the most enjoyable parts of the season. Bundle up the whole family, pack some hot chocolate, and take a car ride around town for a Christmas light parade. Find a local venue that puts on a show or offers ice skating at a low cost for an afternoon of fun. These simple but festive activities can really get you in the holiday spirit and help you to enjoy the people you’re with.

5.    Make a date with close friends

You don’t have to see everyone you know on Christmas Day or on a specific holiday. The “holidays” are plural for a reason! Make your plans with people last throughout a few weeks leading up to Christmas or the New Year so you don’t get burned out. Setting a date to get together and catch up in the middle of the month when stress levels are high is a great idea to get some quality time in and break up some of that stress that you and your friends are probably encountering.

Remember, the holidays don’t have to be stressful and chaotic if you make plans to simplify and set aside time for the things you really care about. These are just a few ways to slow down this holiday season so you can make the most of your time to relax with good food and people surrounding you. What are some of the ways you like to slow down for the holidays?

Rachael is the blogger behind KitchenCourses.com and is the author of How to Cook For Yourself: A Complete Beginner’s Guide. She writes about her passion for food, eating well while saving money, and inspires people to get familiar with their kitchens and cook for themselves.

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