It is that time of year. Halloween is behind us, and Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas are right around the corner. While it is fun to get together with family and friends to celebrate, it can also be a time of stress and frenzy. Below are some tips for taking out the stress so you can have more fun.
First on the list is preparing the home:
Sometimes for me, getting the house ready for guests can be overwhelming. Tanya, from Tidylifetidywife.com has the following list to get your house in holiday ready shape:
Second on the list is taking out the tension of preparing the Thanksgiving Dinner:
Preparing the Thanksgiving Dinner is never an easy task. In fact, it can be downright intimidating. Ted Allen, revered host from the Food Network, has these tips for having a frazzle free Thanksgiving Dinner:
Thaw the darned turkey.
In the refrigerator. Not on the counter. And especially not in the microwave, which is as ruinous as it is dangerous. Thawing a giant bird in the fridge takes days -- depending on the weight, as many as five -- but it's the best answer. Food-safety guidelines warn that harmful bacteria really start going to town on meat when it's at room temperature longer than two hours.
Try a fresh turkey for a change.
From a butcher. Yes, butchers still exist, and most stock never-frozen, free-range birds that are really flavorful. Remember to order ahead, as most butchers need at least a couple weeks' notice.
Beware of deep-frying.
I'm not saying not to do it -- deep-fried turkey is a delicious Southern confection. But unfortunately, every holiday season, a startling number of poultry Rambos burn their decks, their kitchens, their pets or themselves trying to make one. It's so dangerous that Underwriters Laboratories won't put its UL product-safety logo on any turkey-frying kit, arguing that none is truly safe for home use. If you are frying this year, get a fire extinguisher and make sure you use an oil with a high smoking point, like canola or corn (never olive). And lower the turkey very slowly and carefully into the hot oil. Innovate—but not too much.
The holidays are about traditions.
As such, they are not the time to throw the classics out the window. For my holidays, I expect a roast turkey, stuffing, deviled eggs and cranberry sauce. If you want to introduce some new wines or unusual additional side dishes, great. If you want to add ham or a beef roast to the party, terrific. But people are expecting the Holiday Greatest Hits.
If you're overwhelmed, consider throwing a potluck. Not only does this spread the work around but it also allows other people to share in the culinary glory. Best of all, other cooks can introduce you to their specialties, which might then become new traditions in your home.
Plan and work ahead.
Many holiday favorites can be made a day or two in advance without suffering: Stuffing and cranberry sauce come to mind. Speaking of stuffing, it sure is tasty when it's baked inside the bird, but many experts advise against this because it slows the turkey cooking time and raises safety concerns. The real deal-breaker for me is that the inside of a turkey is just too small to hold enough of it.
Deconstruct your bird.
If you're nervous about cooking a giant flightless fowl, take the easy way out: Roast pieces instead. Buy a breast and as many legs as you want, and you can produce a platter of poultry much faster. Bonus: You can tell the kids that this year's turkey had seven legs.
Third, Clever ideas for many sitautions:
Whenever I can, I like to take the simple route. We found some great holiday hacks from realsimple.com and Keith Bradford that get you through the shopping, hosting, party going, gift giving and decorating.
1. Use a hot glue gun to fasten holiday lights to bricks. The glue won’t damage the brick, and you can rip the lights off in seconds at the end of the season.
2. No need to put a nail in your door to hang a wreath. Place an upside-down Command hook on the inside of your door, tie a ribbon around the top of your wreath, run the ribbon over the top of your door, and then loop the ribbon over the hook and close the door.
3. What says the holidays better than a cup of steaming hot chocolate? And the best (and easiest) way to make hot chocolate is to put a scoop of Nutella in warm milk and stir.
4. Carving knives dull and no aluminum foil left? Flip a ceramic mug over and scrape the blade against the rough edge. The knife will cut almost like it’s brand-new!
5. Don’t know what to get people for Christmas or Hannuakah? Have them make three guesses of what you bought them. You now have three ideas for what to get them.
6. Can’t find someone to help you in an electronics store? Stand by the biggest, most expensive TV and look at the price tag. Someone will be right over.
7. Catch up on your social media fix, texts, or emails while you’re standing in the checkout line. Most stores have jewelry, cheap socks, and other impulse buys that you don’t need. Do anything you can to distract yourself from these sections. 8: Little one all dressed up but missing something? Women’s knee-high socks are the perfect size to turn into toddler leggings.
9. Take your kids’ gifts out of those impossible to open plastic packages before you wrap them. It may make the gift harder to wrap neatly, but your kids will get to play with their new toys right away and it’ll make for less aggravation for you on Christmas day.
10. Want to be a hero at the airport during the holiday travel rush? Bring a power strip. You’ll instantly make a bunch of new friends.
11. Before going on your holiday vacation, place a coin on a mug of ice in your freezer. On your return, if the coin is in the ice, it means your freezer stopped working at one point and your food has likely gone bad.
12. Got a stomachache from eating too many holiday goodies? Hop in the shower and let the water hit your body for fifteen to twenty minutes. Your aching will go away and won’t come back!
13. Smiling for sixty seconds, even when you’re in a bad mood, will immediately improve your mood. Using these muscles is enough to trigger the happy chemicals in your brain.
14. Holding your drink at belly button level at holiday parties will make you look more confident.
15. When sending guests directions to your house, don’t just send them the address; send them a picture of your house too. This will make it way easier for them to find it instead of searching up and down the street for house numbers. 16: Scared you’ll forget about gift cards you received as gifts? On your iPhone, go to the Reminders app, then hit “Remind me at location” of wherever your gift card works.
Fourth on the list, Keeping the younger ones entertained:
During the holidays break from school, trying to keep the children busy and happy may be the most stressful part of it all. Seventh Generation provides some useful ideas that the kids can do on their own, or with a parent or caregiver, that should help you survive -- and even have some fun -- until the holiday break is over
Bake some cookies together. Keep a few batches for yourself, deliver the rest as gifts.
Host a holiday-themed movie party/sleepover. Have a few of your kids’ friends over for a fun afternoon (or night if you want to make it a sleepover) of watching holiday movies. Provide a few snacks or have them help you make a homemade pizza.
Volunteer together. This is something you can do year-round, but the holidays are usually a time when more help is needed. Soup kitchens and food banks in particular are often looking for extra help during the season. If your child is under the age of 16, you may either need to grant permission or be present. Check to see if your local mall needs gift wrappers. Many malls offer gift wrapping services, often provided by volunteers, with funds raised going to local charities.
Create a treasure hunt. Amazing fun that will keep kids busy for hours. 5. Go outside and play. Especially in today’s technology driven world, we forget about the simplicity of encouraging outdoor play. Make sure they’re well bundled if you’re fortunate enough to live in a cold winter environment and let them enjoy the fresh air.
Have kids help prepare holiday meals. Most kids like to explore in the kitchen. Yes, it will take longer than if you did it yourself and yes, your kitchen will likely be much messier but the skills that you’ll be able to teach are much more important than some spilled flour.
Check to see if your local movie theater offers special holiday prices. Most movie theater chains will offer discounted tickets during the local school break as a way of encouraging the movie-going experience so check it out!
Read a chapter book out loud. Or even go on and read a whole series together.
Do something nice for someone. Shovel a neighbor’s walk, walk their dog, make dinner for a friend, offer to wrap gifts for someone.
Have your kids make everything from holiday cards or gift tags to menorahs and tree ornaments. The possibilities are endless and most require very few supplies.
Learn something new together. Learn to juggle, play the harmonica, knit, etc., or take a class in Cooking, yoga, ice skating, music, etc.
Build a fort. Let the kids loose in the living room with pillow and blankets. Turn the fort into an overnight sleepout spot.
See a live performance together. Live entertainment abounds this time of year and many venues offer special family or matinee pricing.
Put on your own dramatic performance. Write a script, sew costumes or just do a little improv. The rules are simple, one child is in charge and gets to direct. The others must go along with it. You will need to have a day like this for each child. The one in charge gets to direct, assign roles and costumes. You get to watch the finished project!
Play (or learn) card games. Amazing how much fun you can have with a single pack of playing cards. Little ones can learn crazy eights or Old Maid. Teach the older kids rummy or poker, or discover new games to master.
Make a time capsule. Time capsules are a fun way to record the present and remember the past. They are easy to make, and your kids will love making predictions about their lives!
Flashlight tag. Give everyone a flashlight and turn out the lights! If you get ‘tagged’ you’re out or you’re frozen.
Make Cootie Catchers. If you don't remember how to make one, go online. 20. Plan for daily quiet time.
Have everyone in the family (parents too!) write down 2 or 3 favorite activities on a small piece of paper. Put them all in a jar and pull one out when the kids get bored.
Make Silly Putty. This childhood favorite is a cinch to make, and it will provide hours of entertainment.
Play board games. Put your family to the test with the ultimate board-game challenge. Set up a championship and spend the day competing for prizes.
Last on the list, but not least, let’s not forget about the pets:
The Holidays can be a very stressful time for them. Below are holiday safety tips for pets from the Humane Society:
PET BEHAVIOR AND HOLIDAY GUESTS
• Though the excitement of a party may overwhelm some pets, keep your pets inside during cold weather and provide plenty of toys to keep them busy. • If needed, provide your cat or dog with a quiet room or crate during holiday parties and/or prepare ahead of time to discourage barking. • Inform your visitors ahead of time that you have a pet.
SKIP THE TABLE SCRAP SNACKS: FOODS NOT TO FEED PETS
• Bones: Bones easily splinter and can cause serious health problems (even death) for your pet. • Candy: Particularly chocolate—which is toxic to dogs, cats and ferrets—and any candy containing the toxic sweetener Xylitol. • Citrus and pits: Keep foods containing citric acid away from your pets. Foods such as cherry pits, peach pits and apple seeds contain essential oils that have the ability to cause irritations and even central nervous system depression if a significant amount is ingested. • Coffee: Grounds, beans and chocolate-covered espresso beans. • Eggs (raw) • Grapes and raisins: These can cause kidney problems. • Leaves and stems: From vegetables like tomatoes. • Nuts • Onions • Salt • Trash: Pets who engage in trash-digging can accidentally eat foods that are potentially poisonous to them. Keep trash hidden somewhere your pet can't access.
DECK THE HALLS: HOLIDAY DECORATIONS AND PETS
• Christmas tree: Make sure your dogs or cats do not chew on limbs or droppings from the tree. Ingested pine needles could get lodged in the intestinal tract, puncturing the lining or bunching together and causing an intestinal obstruction. • Water base: The water base of a Christmas tree contains dangerous chemicals that could harm your pet. • Christmas lights and tinsel: Position your tree's lights and tinsel draping away from the bottom of the tree where pets can get to them. • Candles: Don’t leave candles unattended. Pets may accidentally knock them over and spill wax or start a fire. • Fire starter logs: Dogs that enjoy chewing should steer clear; these logs contain sawdust and paraffin which can cause an irritated stomach or even intestinal blockage when ingested. • Plants: A number of seasonal plants are poisonous to pets if nibbled or eaten, including ivy, holly, mistletoe and poinsettias.
BY SLEIGH OR SEA: HOLIDAY TRAVEL AND PETS
• Carefully consider whether to take your pet with you on a trip (air travel can be dangerous). • If you leave your pets home while you travel, be sure to choose a pet sitter or boarding kennel wisely. • Wherever your pets spend the holidays, dogs and cats should all have collars and tags with ID that offer a way to reach you. Learn How to Travel Safely with Your Pets
IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
• Identify your closest 24/7 emergency veterinary clinic before an emergency occurs. • Write down or store in your phone the number for your veterinarian or pet hospital clinic. • Research and write down your pet hospital or clinic's holiday hours.
Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you navigate the holidays and enable you to enjoy your friends and family with a little less “bah humbug” and a lot more “Merry, Merry!” Because in the end, it is not the pretty house, the good food, or the great gifts, it is about spending quality time with those you love. From ftw supply shop we wish you and yours the Happiest of Happy Holidays!