Top tips for staying on top of the holidays when you work full-time.
By Dawn Wiese
It’s that time of year! Twinkling lights adorn homes, trees of all shapes and sizes strapped to the top of minivans and SUVs, and internet activity is soaring as people both shop and try to find the perfect recipe for a holiday meal.
I love the holidays! I make it my mission each year to make December just a bit brighter. And, since I’ve worked full time my entire adult life, I’ve had to learn how to make little adjustments to get everything done. Below is my Top 5 List for the Perfect Holiday. Some of these may seem crazy and some useful. Either way, I send these wishing you and yours a joyous holiday season.
If you’ve never explored Pinterest, it’s time. And, it’s not just for women! If you’re not familiar, Pinterest is like having access to every magazine available. You can type in “Gift Ideas for Men Over 40,” or “Simple Holiday Recipes,” or “Cute Homemade Gifts Kids Can Make,” and you’ll discover a world of ideas at your fingertips. Just be careful to not go down a rabbit hole – an easy thing to do in this virtual Idea Generator.
2. Holiday Cards & Letters
Some say send them; others not. I’m solidly in the “send” category. Each year we assemble a family photo and chronicle happenings of our year and send these out en masse. Our thought: If people don’t want to read, they don’t have to. We spend Christmas afternoon, with a fire lit, and read all the letters together as a family. We always learn something from friends afar and recall how fortunate we are to have special people in our lives – even if we don’t see each other regularly.
While I love to cook, I don’t really care to bake. So, I skip the tough cookie recipes, go straight to Pinterest and type in “Easy Christmas Cookies,” and I make one or two kinds. I plate them and have them on hand for anyone who stops by. We also make plates for our neighbors on our cul de sac (there are seven of us). We take them around and wish our neighbors well. The first year we did this, we were the only ones doing so. Within two years, all of our neighbors were doing this and our neighbors who are Jewish made their cookies blue and white, extending the holiday spirit and recognizing their cultural tradition. Cookies can indeed build communities!
4. Gifts on the Ready
While I do much of my shopping in advance, for years I always seemed to lack just one gift. No more! I stockpile simple gifts that I have on the ready for last minute giving in case my list fails me. These can be anything from nice candles from TJ Maxx to ornaments I found at a craft fair. But, my favorite gift is something I make in July of each year … and it’s ready by Christmas. The Rossi Limoncello recipe! A bushel of lemons, sugar, a handle of vodka, water and an over-sized jar and I’m in business. And, while it only takes 30 minutes to make, it’s the sitting in the freezer for months that is the trick. This is an old Italian family recipe (my Mom was a Rossi)… happy to share if you’re interested. As for sharing the limoncello … I run out every year so if you’re interested in a batch, let me know.
5. The Cooking
I shared that I love to cook, but I don’t love cooking a turkey or ham. I stopped doing it years ago, but each year people rave about how well these turn out. My secret? Fresh Market for my turkey and Honey Baked Ham Company for my ham. Another deep, dark secret to my holiday table? Stove Top Stuffing. Now, I don’t just do the stuffing recipe; I mix in some ground pork sausage, cut up apples, and other assorted items but there just doesn’t seem to me to be a reason to go crazy about gathering bread cubes and spices when it all comes in a box which you can then trick up with extras. I spend my attention on the sides and making a beautiful table.
So, that’s my Top 5 List for the Perfect Holiday! I’d love to hear yours and, in the meantime, here’s wishing you and yours the loveliest of holiday seasons!