Ok, we are down to the wire with the unofficial start of the holiday season underway this Thursday. After this week, you set the tone for the next 6 weeks into 2017! No pressure…LOL. Some of us have lists coming out of our ears, others are just winging it and then there are some that are just walking around dazed and confused. So, I’m gonna make things a little easier with my mini-handbook to survive this week and to kick start this holiday season.
LAST MINUTE TIPS
Ok, if you don’t have your turkey by now…don’t buy it frozen! Get a fresh turkey, brine it and then cook it. If you are shopping for your turkey on Thursday, good luck. However, use your procrastination and turn it in to inspiration…
get Cornish hens and create personal thanksgiving meals for each of your guests! It’s fun and takes out the hassle of thawing a large bird, brining it, cooking it and carving it. This way everyone can have their own bird, no fights over dark and white meat, and if you are really up to it, personalize each one with a favorite food of that guest! Make sure you have plenty of foil and take home containers!
Whatever you do, don’t stress about the bird, if you must have turkey, get them fresh. If you can’t find fresh, get 2 smaller frozen ones. The rule for a refrigerator thaw is about 24 hours for ever 4lbs of turkey. Now, if you submerge your bird(s) in cold water, you can thaw it out at 30mins/lb.…just change out the water every 30mins as it will get too cold and slow down the process. I don’t like hot water methods, something about meat and warm water bugs me.
As for sides, sauces and etc…start prepping now. Cut your veggies for your salads, casseroles and stuffing. Make your sauces Wednesday night, they taste better 24 hours anyways. Microwave your potatoes so you can free up stovetop space. Make your guests bring dessert and use store bought rolls (no one will know or even care). Make your apps easy and get some fancy cheeses, meats, pickles and crackers…most people want the main meal as it is.
Table settings last minute…use leaves as place cards, parchment paper as placemats, use cutting as serving platters. Set your table with mismatched stuff, it’s quirky and fun! Fill wine glasses with fresh cranberries and leaves for a quick and easy centerpiece. Just get creative! Pinterest the crap out of your place! LOL!
Ok, this isn’t hard at all. Make batch cocktails so you aren’t spending the entire night with your cocktail shaker in hand. Guests can add whatever spirit themselves, just make the mixer(s) in a large batch and keep them in bottles or carafes. This way no one has to drink the ONE cocktail and can change it up throughout the night.
Wines…here’s the deal…you will never satisfy everyone. I say stick to the classics like Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay for the whites and Pinot Noir and Cabernet for the reds. The Pinot Grigio enhances the fruits in the meal, the Chardonnay highlights the richness. Pinot Noir brings out the cranberry, while the Cabernet rounds out the meal as a whole. If you want to explore, try Chenin Blanc for white and Grenache for red!
Make a pot of hot chocolate or cider for dessert, this way kids get something fun and the adults can “add” their own fun!
BLACK FRIDAY/CYBER MONDAY
So, the meal is done…the guests are gone…it’s time to shop. I hate Black Friday. I’ve done my share of waiting in line, fighting for the last $10 digital camera, getting attacked by a crazy mom and being hit with random flying objects. It’s so not worth it. However, if you are so inclined…be smart and realize that if you aren’t in line right after dinner the night before, you won’t get that $200 60-inch TV. They are already gone before you even say goodnight to your guests. Find out what’s going to be available online first, then prioritize what you have to pick up at the store. Doorbusters are a lost cause, don’t try it unless you have armor on, they are called doorbusters for a reason. Figure out how much you need versus what you want versus your own mental health capacity.
Cyber Monday…I love. It’s easy, it’s quick…shipping and returns are free…they will even giftwrap. I don’t need to say anymore. DONE.
SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY
Being a small business, I love this. I always think this is the best day of the week. Looking at it from a consumer point of view, it’s one of a kind stuff, not commercially produced, more than likely your gift recipient won’t get multiples of it…and although it might be priced a little higher, it all goes to that person whose hands are crafting those items. Even if you aren’t looking for gifts, go try that local bakery that rolls out each pie crust by hand, thus only makes 10 a day. Trust me, someone’s Grandma is back there making pie filling all day. Wouldn’t you want a pie baked by her? Or Sara Lee? Get out in your neighborhoods on Saturday and drop into your local coffee shop for a one step latte, peek into a clothing boutique and buy a scarf for your mom, and then head to that handmade candle and soap shop and get yourself some bath bubbles. It’s that easy, and it more than makes that business owner’s day.
There are small businesses that have taken their crafts online and offer deals for new customers and some will even throw in free samples of upcoming items that aren’t even on sale yet! Or just discount codes for the next time! Amazon will always be there, so give it a rest until Cyber Monday and indulge in something more intimate.
Alright folks, this is MY guide to the holidays…last minute isn’t the worst thing, but Black Friday is. The holidays create madness, I get it. We don’t have to let it consume us though. Just be prepared to be unprepared and go with it. Don’t stress over that last-minute guest or that $10 down comforter at Walmart. Just set an extra plate that may not match, pour them a beverage (and yourself one) and just enjoy the holidays with your family and friends, that’s what counts most, right?