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World Kitchen | 10 Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining

World Kitchen | 10 Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining

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Entertaining during the holidays can be fun and rewarding, but it can also be hectic when you need to juggle buying gifts, cleaning the house, shopping for and preparing meals, decorating and gift wrapping. And that doesn’t even include your normal day-to-day responsibilities.

To keep things under control—and ward off going prematurely gray—try incorporating these 10 tips for stress-free holiday entertaining:

1. DEEP CLEAN IN ADVANCE
You don’t want to be dusting and window washing days before Christmas, so start deep cleaning the house in advance. Set aside a little time each week during the 4 to 5 weeks leading up to the holidays.

2. SAVE MONEY AND TIME ON GIFT WRAP
It takes a bit of planning, but you can save on cost and be prepared 11 months in advance if you hit up the after-Christmas sales in preparation for next year. You can score serious discounts on wrapping paper, ribbon, tape and gift tags the first few days after Santa’s visit. Just be sure you store your materials in a protective container like Snapware® Snap ‘N’ Stack® Home Storage containers. This will keep it organized and like new until next year. Then, when it’s time to wrap gifts again, you’ll have everything in one place.

3. TEAMWORK GOES A LONG WAY
Work as a team with your spouse to get the “To Do” list done. For example, alternate nights of errands and childcare. One day one of you runs the errands while the other stays home with the kids. The next day switch.

4. JUST SAY NO, SERIOUSLY
The holidays are a time for giving, but you can only stretch yourself so far. If you don’t protect your time, no one else will. If obligations, invitations and requests start to pile up, recognize your limit and politely say, “No thank you.” Saying no may be the most important tip on this list for stress-free holiday entertaining. You may want to practice it all year long.

5. PLAN COOKING AND SHOPPING IN ADVANCE
Holiday meals are probably the most complex we cook all year. It takes a bit of time management and planning to get each dish ready to serve at the same time.

To make your meal a flavorful success, the planning begins with a shopping list. Before you head to the store, check and recheck that you have a complete list of all the necessary ingredients—and quantities. This probably means reviewing each recipe and doing some math to calculate exactly how much you need. If you’ve ever been short one stick of butter, you know how important this can be.

6. DELEGATE!
No one can do it all alone—not even ol’ St. Nick. Get your kids involved by assigning chores to everyone. Older kids can easily help with cooking, cleaning and decorating, but even the younger ones can help by picking up their toys and clearing the table.

Consider having guests each bring a dish—just be sure to plan which dish so you don’t end up with five bowls of mashed potatoes!

In addition, get in the habit of accepting a guest’s offer to help wash the dishes. Post-dinner cleanup can even be a great time to catch up without having the entire family in on your conversation.

7. SAVE TIME WITH A SLOW COOKER
Many holiday dishes, from roasts to desserts to casseroles, can be prepared in a slow cooker. The great thing about a slow cooker is that it needs very little supervision. You can fill it with ingredients, set the temperature and then head out the door—or to bed. When you return home, or wake up, you’ll have a perfectly cooked dish waiting for you. Your friends will call you a multitasking master.

8. HAVE A PLAN FOR CLEANUP AND LEFTOVERS
Wash-as-you-cook is a handy tactic to use during the holidays, especially when you’re often cooking with lots of pots and pans. (It can also keep kids or guests busy!)

A day or two in advance, set aside a clean collection of Snapware® Total Solution™ storage containers. Write your name on the container and matching lid. If you send home leftovers with guests, there’s a better chance they containers will be returned.

9. SET ASIDE “YOU” TIME AND “US” TIME
Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanza or Christmas, in the days leading up to the holiday—and on the day of holiday—take time to do something you find relaxing or enjoyable. It’s equally important to set aside time to spend alone with your spouse and kids. Even if it’s something simple like working on a puzzle or looking at photos from past holidays. Those quiet moments are the ones most remembered.

10. GET READY THE NIGHT BEFORE
Charge cameras and camcorders, put out outfits and prepare a simple breakfast or lunch one or two nights before the big day. That way, you don’t have to sweat the small stuff during the celebration.

YOUR TURN: How do you combat stress during the holiday season?