December is here and Christmas is right around the corner. The Holidays can be really fun but also really frustrating and daunting. I love to avoid this last part. My goal is to be ready early, avoid last minute crisis, save money and have the time of my life. I'd like to share some of my tricks to do just that. :)
Minimalism also means to minimize drama and workload.
There are six main areas you need to figure out for a good Holiday time:
- Shopping and Spending
- Cleaning and Preparation
Let's see what can be done about these. It's late November. It's time to get going... and if you can get going before, you should!
Food preparation can become insane. If you are receiving your family and friends, you'll end up having to prepare a large spread. You can buy a lost of pre-made food and appetizers, but they are not always the best and you can rack up a pretty large bill. You have to decide if it's something you want to get into. If you would like to bake, but don't want to have to do it the day of or the night before, especially if you have to clean, decorate, work and sleep, there are things you can do early. Also, you don't have to do nearly as much as you think. A minimalist mindset can be really helpful when deciding on the menu. We always overplan, overbuy, overcook, and overeat.
Late November, I bake for Christmas. I'm not receiving, but to avoid the hosts to have to do everything, we share the load. Everybody brings something. It makes for an awesome variety and you get a chance to taste everyone's specialty. The key in baking early is..... freezing! I choose things that can be made in sufficient quantity and then freeze. I make some extras for additional parties. If my aunt invites us for dinner, I can walk in the door with a basket of muffins or a pie.
- What can you freeze: dessert pies, muffins, chicken pot pies and tourtières (meat pies), cakes (bake the cake itself, freeze it and frost the day of or day before), tofu (the texture changes-it becomes more like a sponge), cookies and cookie dough, lasagna, and much more. See this article to learn to freeze cookies: http://www.favoritefreezerfoods.com/freeze-cookies.html
What I like about baking muffins and pies is that the recipe can be doubled without too much extra time or money. This is my Christmas 2012 production:
I made quite a bit. It was for four parties, two tofu "chicken" pies and two apple pies per. Even that was too much. I could have easily gotten away with 1 of each per party.
It took me one evening, but I chose when I did it. There was no pressure of finishing by a certain time because I had to start cleaning the place or guest would arrive shortly. Once the production was done, I put the pies in large Ziploc bags and in the freezer they went. I then sat down in front of the TV and watched a Christmas movie with my fiancé. :)
- Tip: To save money, buy your flour, sugar and other baking supplies in bulk at a store like Costco. The price is almost the same as a regular format and it allows you to double recipes and bake additional stuff you could get inspired to do.
Shopping and Spending
Ah yes... Christmas shopping... This is dreaded by everyone. I have a few easy and common tips to help this situation. The last time I got caught in last minute and overwhelming Christmas shopping was exactly 12 years ago. Never again. It had repercussions beyond being stressed and tired. Never again.
- If you have a lot of gift shopping to do, do it early in September or October. This way, you have November to wrap all your stuff and December to simply enjoy the Holidays.
- Instead of buying a large amount of gifts, do a gift exchange! You can read my earlier post about saving money at Christmas.
- Online Shopping, classic but so efficient! Buying online doesn't mean you put less thought in your gifts. Actually, you can more often then not find the exact model, version or rare collectible you were looking for. The thing to keep in mind is shipping cost and shipping time. Order early!! One year, we ordered a series of Japanese Kit-Kat candy bars for a Kit-Kat fan, a real success!
People often forget that they have to wrap everything they buy. You could simply decide that gifts are not wrapped this year and simply hidden! If you procrastinate and keep that for the end, you might end up having a horrible time and even get back and neck pain.
The other part often ignored is the cost! If you like pretty wrapping, it might end up costing more than the gift itself...
Here are some more of my tips:
- Dollar stores! Don't under estimate those. In Quebec, we have this great Dollorama chain selling great Holiday supplies from bags to boxes to Christmas ornament. Everything is between 1$ to 3$. Get a nice bag or box and add a Christmas ornament to decorate.
- Stores like Costco sell you gigantic rolls of high quality paper that can last you 5 or 6 years. They come out in September and they even have some Holiday patterns that can be used for any occasions such as birthdays. You can also be green and choose recyclable paper.
Driving can be stressful and even dangerous in time of bad weather, tiredness, tipsiness or stress.
Make sure you sleep well and all the things you have to bring are ready by the door the night before so that you don't have to run around drying your hair, looking for your shoes and trying to remember all the gifts and food you have to bring.
Be over prepared!
Cleaning and Preparation
If most of your cooking and wrapping is done early, your place will already be cleaner and you will have more time to prepare.
At least, one week before, make a list of all the tasks to do and prioritize them. Take care of the longest ones a few days early such as washing bed sheets and purchasing paper plates.
Make sure that the day of the event you only have basic cleaning, touch ups to do, beside the cooking that cannot be avoided.
Finally, sleep. You should start your tasks early the day before so you can finish soon and go to sleep. Don't go to bed late. You'll regret it the next day... Panic, tiredness, burning eyes, headache, anger, and Christmas hatred could result!
I really hope these few tips can help you have an amazing Holiday time!!
Who Am I? I'm many things. I'm passionate about tons of stuff. I love travel. I love self-improvement. I'm a sucker for optimization, efficiency, and minimalism. I renewed with mathematics and science, those are so amazing. Astronomy and chemistry are just plain awesome! I'm a student, a mentor, a traveler, a learner, an artist, an animator, and Disney brings me tears of joy! I love to grow and I will never stop! So who am I? All that and everything else I have not discovered about myself yet. It's a never ending answer!
Qui suis je? Je suis beaucoup de choses. Je suis passionné des tonnes de trucs. J'adore voyager. J'adore la croissance personnelle. Je suis vendue à l'optimisation, l'efficacité et le minimalisme. J'ai renoué avec les mathématiques et les sciences, des mondes tout simplement incroyable. L'astronomie et la chimie sont tout simplement génial! Je suis étudiante, mentor, voyageuse, artiste, animatrice et Disney m'apporte des larmes de joie! J'aime me pousser à fond et je ne cesserai jamais! Alors, qui suis-je? Tout cela et tout le reste que je n'ai pas encore découvert de moi-même. C'est une réponse sans fin!