by christine victoria alexander

Friday, November 20, 2020


Call me old-fashioned, but I love cooking a feast for the holidays and gathering with family to thank God for His goodness throughout the year. I love making my home look pretty and inviting before the rush of entertaining begins. I love the smells that fill my kitchen throughout the next couple of months as I cook up our favorite holiday foods.

What I don't love is feeling stressed or rushed when I don't have my ducks in a row. I've come to realize that preparation and forethought are the keys to stress-free holidays (especially if you're hosting)! Here are a few tips I have picked up that have helped me feel more relaxed and and present during this busy season:


I like to sit down 2 weeks before my dinner party and write out everything I want to serve. If my guests have offered to bring something I add it to the list. If they've asked what to bring I delegate items from my list to them. Then I go back over the menu and make a note of anything I can make ahead. I add a reminder on my calendar for each make-ahead item on the appropriate day so I don't forget. This saves loads of time (and stress!) on the day of an event! 


I heard this tip (from either Martha Stewart or Ina Garten, I think) but never tried it until last year. As someone who really loves the art of setting a table - creating a table scape, laying out place cards, setting a scene - this tip has been a game changer for me! I wouldn't think this is necessary if you are having a small gathering with just a few people, but for a large table (or two) to set it really saves so much time and energy the day of the party.


Is there anything more stressful than buying gifts last minute?? (And I'm incredibly indecisive when I'm under pressure so that doesn't help!) To avoid the last minute rush to the store or late night gift wrapping, I make a list of people I'm planning to give to: children, relatives, neighbors, Isaac's co-workers, etc. Once I've figured out what I'm giving each person I purchase gifts or mark my calendar for when I plan to purchase (on a sale weekend, for example). I like to order a bunch of peppermint bark or toffee tins for my neighbors and attach our holiday card with a short handwritten note. All of that can be done ahead! I was just laughing with my sister about how terrible I am at buying gifts early in the year and hiding them away for birthdays or holidays. I'm literally pulling the gifts out the first rainy day and calling it a rainy day surprise! Haha if that's you too don't worry - mark your calendar November 1st to make your gift list and start shopping / making! 


If you haven't picked up on it by now I am huge fan of using my calendar as a reminder system. I'm married to someone who, when we got married, did not use a calendar. 😱 (I still don't understand how he kept a job as a server with constantly changing hours without one!!) I also use the Notes app on my phone and the Stickies app on my laptop for lists. I love making homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving. Instead of making it on Thanksgiving morning, (when I would rather be raking giant leaf piles with the girls) I have a note on my calendar to cook up a couple batches Monday morning the week of Thanksgiving and then I'll pop it in the fridge until the big day. 


I love watching our girls get excited about the holidays because they're starting to remember our traditions from years before. Traditions don't have to cost a dime and the best traditions aren't stressful. Here are some of our traditions for the holidays:

- Delivering gifts to family, friends & neighbors

- Candlelight game night during Hanukkah  

- Decorating our Christmas tree, with a side of fresh baked cookies & apple cider 

- Playing dreidels with trail mix instead of gelt

- A Hanukkah pajama party 

- Sushi and fries while we watch It's a Wonderful Life

- Lots of treasure hunts (you'd think for the kids, but the girls and I actually make them for Isaac! 😂)

- Donuts during Hanukkah and pancakes Christmas morning 

- Pajama drives through our favorite neighborhoods to see the lights


Last tip - don't overbook. I know it's hard when all the invites start coming in and you don't want to miss out on the fun but, trust me, nothing kills the holiday spirit like rushing from one party to the next without time to unwind and just relax. I like to block off a few evenings during the busiest weeks to pull on my big fat cozy knit socks, curl up on the couch, turn some music on, and just watch the candles burn. It's so, so good. 

Wishing you all a happy, healthy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season! 💛


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