I love the sights, scents and songs of the holiday season. It is often a time that brings out the best in me; an opportunity to honor tradition, recommit to my values and reflect on my blessings. If I am not careful, it can also be a time of stress. In the past I have been guilty of putting too much pressure on myself to find the perfect gifts, create a perfectly joyful environment and host perfect gatherings. So, this holiday, I am focusing on slowing down and enjoying simplicity.
Don’t get me wrong. I still want to entertain and create a festive atmosphere for enjoying my family and friends! Here are a few thoughts on how to scale back and focus on the meaning of a gathering rather than the perfection of it.
Pare Down the Menu
Rather than a formal dinner, why not plan a buffet of foods that are great served at room temperature? Grocery stores now have a great array of frozen appetizers that look and taste like you spent hours preparing them. A simple cheese board, antipasto and Honey-Baked Ham and you have a fabulous feast that is simple and stress-free.
Serve One Signature Cocktail
My go-to for winter gatherings? Mulled Wine. It’s rich, spicy and warming. Buy a few bottles of inexpensive red wine and make it even simpler by blending with Williams Sonoma’s new Spiced Syrup.
If you want to serve additional beverages, add ice buckets with serve-yourself beer, chilled wine and non-alcoholic selections and you have the perfect bar set up!
Create a Living Tablescape
One activity that can take up a lot of time prior to entertaining is pulling together floral arrangements and table settings. An alternative is to use small plants like holly, rosemary or mini fir trees to decorate your table. Fresh fruit bowls add a pop of color and scent. Even better – give the plants to your guests as favors and that’s one less thing to worry about!
Tap Into the Power of Paper
Paper napkins, plates and flatware have come a long way. There are now hundreds of options with patterns from casual to formal, so you are sure to find a style that fits.
Here are some of our favorites this holiday season:
Take Care of Yourself
Whether it’s taking time to prep way ahead of time so you aren’t running around last minute or asking a loved one to come over early to help out or bring an extra dish, try to set the stage for minimal stress and optimal enjoyment. Because most importantly, you want to make sure you have time to visit with your friends and family – which is what the holidays are all about. And after everyone leaves – pour your favorite beverage and take a nice long bath – you deserve it!
Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love. Hamilton Wright Mable