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Posts from the ‘Holidays’ Category

6 Tips for Holiday Harmony with the Family

The holiday season is a time for family, good food, recalling holiday seasons past, and making new memories. At least that’s what it’s supposed to be like.

Let’s face it – not every family’s holiday celebration is straight out of a movie. If your family gathering feels more like World War III than a celebration of holiday joy, you’re not alone. Help make this holiday season a little more bearable by using the tips below.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

If you walk in expecting chaos, you’ll get it! Take the time to mentally prepare for the time you’ll spend with family. Make a conscious effort to go with the flow and not let the drama affect your mood. Having a positive attitude about holiday get-togethers is the first step toward harmony.

Make a Game Plan

It might sound silly, but having a game plan for the occasion is a must. Think about how you’ll answer the awkward questions your Aunt Sue will ask, who you’ll sit next to for the meal and even your limit on glasses of wine. The only person you can control is yourself, so having a plan for the tough moments is a good first step.

Think Before You Speak

Are you irked by a comment your sister, cousin or uncle made at last year’s holiday feast? It’s probably best not to re-hash the details over this year’s meal. Make an effort to stop, breathe and think before you speak. Just think – you may have been spared 364 days of hurt if Uncle Joe would have counted to three before embarrassing you in front of the family!

Find a Holiday Season Buddy

We all have that one friend who can bring us back from the brink, right? No, not the one who agrees with every word of your rant, but the one that calms you down and gives you a little perspective. It’s time to enlist their help for the holiday season. You don’t have to bring them as a plus one to the party, just have them on standby for your most stressful moments. Once you step out the front door, pick up your phone and let it all out – they’ll understand!

Plan Breaks

Having a small panic attack about the marathon family party circuit you’re about to start? We all love our families, but sometimes we just need a break! Make sure you plan for a little alone time before party season starts. Whether you call your Holiday Buddy to vent, watch a movie, read a book or just stare at the stars after a long night, the guests at your next event will reap the benefits of the time you spent unwinding.

It’s Okay to Say No

Every family goes through rough patches. If it’s been a particularly stressful year, it might be best to take the holidays off. Choosing to spend your holiday season with friends rather than family doesn’t mean you love them any less, it just means you’re choosing not to stir the pot. So, go have some fun with friends and hope for a more positive 2014.

4 Tips on Dealing with Holiday Stress

Remember being a kid and looking forward to the holiday season each year? There was nothing more exciting than getting time off school, spending time with family, listening to cheerful songs on the radio, eating great food and opening presents, lots of presents. Ah, the good old days! Now you’re all grown up, and the holidays represent something completely different. Sure, all of the excitement is still in the air, but there’s something about having to plan, cook and host it all that makes the season just a little more stressful.

Don’t let the thought of everything you need to do to prepare for the holiday season become overwhelming! You can get back to enjoying the final days of 2013 by properly preparing for the stress the season brings. Take a few moments to sit down, breathe and take in these suggestions for making your life just a tad easier.

Plan Your Time

If you’re anything like the rest of us, your holiday to-do list is a few miles long. From shopping to baking and family time, the last few weeks of each year are packed full of preparation for can’t-miss gatherings. Planning for the chaos is your best defense against obligation overload, so use this opportunity to start a positive time management habit – calendar blocking. Then, make a commitment to stick to your plan.

Set a Strict Budget

The holidays emphasize the spirit of generosity and it feels good to share your holiday spirit with others. If you’re stressed about fitting all of the gifts, food and charity contributions in to your budget this year, you’re not alone. Holiday spending (and the stress that goes with it) can get out of control fast, so take the time to set a strict budget. Not sure where to start? Check out this how to article complete with budget worksheets and tips on tracking, tweaking and limiting your spending.

Make a Holiday Playlist

When you’re out fighting crowds and standing in the checkout line for hours, it’s easy to forget that the holiday season is really about family, friends and being thankful for togetherness. If you find yourself standing at the edge of a holiday breakdown, try listening to a few holiday songs that can bring you back from the brink. In fact, it might be a good idea to be proactive and craft a holiday playlist ready for blasting through your headphones at a moment’s notice. If you’re in need of a few suggestions, try browsing Billboard’s list of hot holiday songs.

Spread the Holiday Spirit

There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get from giving back to your community. Volunteering for a local food drive, food bank or church not only helps your community, it helps you to become more grateful for the gifts you have in your life. If you’re having trouble finding a volunteer opportunity to feel passionate about, try VolunteerMatch.org. With a database full of opportunities to give back across the country, you’re sure to find something close to home.

Preparing for the Feast: Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

Thanksgiving dinner is arguably the most anticipated meal of the year. What have you done to prepare? If your answer is “nothing,” don’t stress. You’ve still got (a little) time to pull together an impressive feast. Start by browsing the recipes below, craft a well-organized shopping list, and then make a mad dash to your local grocery store to grab the necessities before they’re gone!

The Turkey

Let’s face it, the turkey is the star of the day. But with so many options for this famed-fowl, which direction should you go?  Beginners might choose to start with this Class Roast Turkey recipe from Chef Emeril Lagasse. If you’re a seasoned veteran of turkey preparation, try using this turkey brine recipe to bring a little unique flavor to your bird. Finally, for those feeling especially adventurous this holiday season, give the fried turkey a try. You can’t go wrong with a little deep-fried goodness (don’t forget the safety goggles!)!

Stuffing

From apples and cornbread to pecans and sweet sausage, it seems everyone has their own Thanksgiving stuffing style, but which best fits your feast? There’s no right answer – just go with your gut. If you’re looking for something a little different this year, check out Country Living’s 21 Recipes for Thanksgiving Stuffing.  Or, for those that stick with tradition, use this tried-and-true Classic Bread Turkey Stuffing from Betty Crocker. Whichever recipe you choose, don’t stress – stuffing is used to playing second fiddle to turkey!

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

You’re either a lumps or no lumps kind of family, there is no in between. Admit it – you’re probably only truly safe at the Thanksgiving table if you stick with tradition on this one. But if you’re willing to risk it, try Giada De Laurentiis’ Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs or Paula Deen’s Garlic Mashed Potatoes. You won’t be disappointed!

As for the gravy, your best bet is to stick with simple. The potato (and anything else that ends up getting smothered) should take center stage, so don’t overdo it! Check out this No-Fail Make Anytime Turkey Gravy if you’re up for the challenge of making it from scratch. If not, Heinz has a great option in a jar – we won’t tell!

Green Bean Casserole

No Thanksgiving spread is complete without a green bean casserole. While each family’s rendition might look a little different, that undisputable taste is the same. Whether you use the traditional Campbell’s Classic Green Bean Casserole Recipe or took yours from Betty Crocker, this one’s a crowd-pleaser at any gathering.

Cranberries

It’s the classic cranberry conundrum – whole or jellied? Here’s a tip for Thanksgiving table harmony – include both! Now that you’ve got that settled, consult the designated cranberry experts for canned options and a fresh recipe – Ocean Spray. If you’re looking to save time, pick up a few cans at your local grocery store. Up for the fresh and from scratch route? This Fresh Cranberry Sauce recipe is sure to satisfy even the most critical cranberry fan.

Pie

A piece of pie – no matter the flavor – is the perfect ending to your Thanksgiving feast. While every family has their favorites, there’s no denying the classic pumpkin pie is a must-have. Once you’ve made sure to include pumpkin, feel free to go wild! From pecan to sweet potato and apple, The Food Network’s collection of the Best Thanksgiving Pie and Tart Recipes is sure to inspire. Not in to baking? Pick up a few flavors at your local grocery store and pop them in the oven for a few minutes before serving to get that homemade taste.

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