I don't think it is possible to have a 'stress free holiday' that is unless you say heck with it all and rent a cabin in upstate Maine and forget everything else.....
hmmm maybe next year....
But I can say I have a few tips on how to keep the stress level down a bit. Unfortunately my biggest tip will be of no use to you now -
Shop in OCTOBER!
Yes all of my Christmas shopping is not only done but it is also wrapped. I hate Black Friday with a passion and refuse to get the flyers or even leave my house on Black Friday. I am sure plenty of you love it but it is so not me. Instead right around our anniversary every year hubby and I get a babysitter and get ALL of the Christmas shopping done. I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to know that the closet upstairs is stuffed full of already wrapped Christmas gifts!
Okay so my big tip is of no use right now but I do a few other things too!
Lots of em. I am a list girl and I always will be. It is the only way I can keep myself sane! Tonight I sat down with my day planner, the laptop, a blank December calendar print out, two grocery list print outs and went to town!
Whether its the holidays or not I always write a menu every month. This started a little over a year ago and it is the best thing I have ever done for myself. I sit down usually twice a month and write out a dinner menu for about two weeks worth of dishes. We may not eat everything on those specific days but we will always have the food necessary to prepare those dishes in the house. I have tried typing menues and using programs but I am an old fashioned pen and paper kinda gal so I simply print out a blank month by month calendar page from Microsoft Word.
After writing my menu I start my grocery list. I while back I also made myself a simple little grocery list template that has headings for each isle of the grocery store in the order that I shop to make shopping (which is ALWAYS with Madison in tow) much, much easier! Of course if you use a few different stores you will have to figure out what works best for you but it is definitely a time saver!
Okay so now you have your menu planned for next month, you have your lists done and you are saying "AHHH how on Earth am I going to get all of this done?" Trust me I was there earlier today! We have three Christmas parties to attend, a party at our house and we entertain at our house for Christmas day so that leaves a lot of planning on my part. Which brings me to my next tip-
Oh yeah! Every year we have my mom's side of the family over for a Christmas get together about a week before Christmas and we have it at our house which I love because we have the youngest kiddo in the family and it is easiest for her at home. This get together usually involves around 15 or people so we usually cook up a big Italian dish for a main course. With that in mind I will be cooking two giant pans of lasagna (for the get together) and a pan of stuffed shells (which is on the menu later in the month) during the first weekend in the month. I will spend one day filling foil dishes and then freezing everything. Voila! In one afternoon I have the biggest part of the party done!
For me making an extra pan of stuffed shells when I am already making lasagna is not a big deal in the least and it means come the end of the month I have an entire dinner made and ready to reheat. The same logic definitely goes into Christmas baking. We have a few parties to attend and I will be bringing the same dessert to all of them because it is much easier to bake a bunch of the same thing rather than have my pantry exploding on to my counter with flour and sugar for this, that and the other thing!