image by: KSPS Public TV
Its not stress that kills us, it is our reaction to it - Hans Selye
This is my holiday fantasy world. I’ve purchased and beautifully wrapped the perfect gifts for everyone I love weeks ago. The decorations are up, all the lights work, and everything looks like a movie. I’ve created a delicious holiday menu and I’m feeling so confident that I’ve challenged Martha Stewart, Ree Drummond, and Chrissy Teigen to a cooking competition and I beat them all hands down!
Also in my holiday fantasy world I realize that I’ve lost 5 pounds so I can eat whatever I want until January and not feel guilty. Finally, I will wake up on Christmas morning feeling rested, relaxed, and completely in control, and I will be greeted by smiling people who are offering me ice cold mimosas and hot coffee. Lovely!
However, in my holiday reality world none of these things will happen. Currently, I am stressed, I am tired, I have not finished shopping, and I have gained 5 pounds. Oh, and the only face I should expect to greet me Christmas morning is mine, and it won’t be smiling. So, I will make my own damn coffee and I will make my own mimosa(s) because everyone else will be sound asleep until noon… Whatever.
I’ll bet you have a similar holiday fantasy world. It’s normal. It's normal because we try so hard and we want our efforts to turn out exactly as we’ve envisioned. And we want our families and friends to appreciate the gifts we’ve painstakingly chosen for them, and we desperately want our holiday dinner to go off without a hitch, and for our significant other to know exactly what gift would make us swoon. After all, we’ve been leaving obvious hints laying around for months, right? But it won’t happen. Why? Because our families “know” we will handle everything and we are over our heads and things fall apart at the seams when we’re in that deep.
So, how do we deal with this (self-imposed) stress? How do we get through the holidays without needing a January stint in rehab, or developing an eye twitch, or chewing every fingernail down to the quick? Obviously, we look to those who seem to have everything so effortlessly under control - celebrities. But, not just any celebrities, let’s see what suggestions some of the best celebrity chefs and lifestyle bloggers have to offer.
Designer Nate Berkus says that we should start thinking about our table decor and colors a week before the holiday. At first, I thought this sounded like a lot of pressure because the week before is typically crunch time. But here’s the stress free part; he says we should use “unique and eclectic pieces.” This is awesome because it’s code for nothing needs to match! Berkus likes to mix things up by using a hodge podge of serving pieces, flatware, glasses, and plates! Apparently I’ve been eclectic for years because I don’t have anything that matches!!! So, I’ve got this one nailed!
Food blogger and celebrity chef Ree Drummond has a great tip for ensuring that our holiday meal goes smoothly. She suggests that we lay out all of our serving pieces and utensils (remember, we’re being eclectic) ahead of time, even up to a week ahead of time.... By doing so, she says we’ll be able to see if the pieces we have will work with our menu, or if we’re missing anything. This is helpful because the last thing I want do is run around on Christmas looking for the turkey platter that I haven’t seen since last year. She also suggests that after we’ve laid out all of our serving pieces and utensils, we should use sticky notes to label them with the dish they’re assigned to. I can do this, too!
Martha Stewart, the queen of everything cooly beautiful and unattainable, ironically has a really easy (and doable) suggestion for the bar. She said that playing mixologist is way too time-consuming for any host. So don’t even dream of making an individual cocktail/mocktail for each guest otherwise you’ll never leave the bar! Instead, create a signature drink that can be made in large quantities in the morning and stored in pitchers in the fridge until guests arrive. Martha says that serving cocktails in pitchers, allows guests to serve themselves and frees up your time. Again, doable.
Nigella Lawson, (I love her) is the queen of everything fun and casually cool. She believes that the perfect party begins with the host’s mental state. She said, “a calm host, elicits calm quests.” Therefore, she says we should avoid the pressure to have an overly extravagant party or meal for the holidays. Also, she says to remember that our home isn’t a restaurant so we shouldn’t feel the need to cater to every taste or food issue. Finally, she reminds us that the holidays are about spending time with friends and family, not impressing the world with our perfect party planning skills. In other words, relax. (And drink some wine.)
Lifestyle blogger, Camille Styles, likes to get her friends and family talking and engaging with one another so she sets out piles of board games and cards. For Camille, it’s all about the classics and she loves hunting for games like Monopoly, Scrabble, and Trivial Pursuit throughout the year. She says it’s a fun and nostalgic way to entertain an entire group, regardless of age. She adds that having guests involved in an activity provides us with some quiet time so we can tend to last-minute kitchen details.
Finally, the good people at the Food Network offer a few tips that will help relieve stress on the day of the big holiday.
- Before guests arrive, add two cinnamon sticks to a pot of boiling water, and let it simmer it for about 30 minutes before taking it off the heat. Your house will smell amazing and cinnamon is a natural stress reliever.
- Have a couple of self-serve snacks and drinks available for your guests when they arrive. However, be sure to spread them around the house so guests don’t gather in one area. Seriously, put them as far away from the kitchen as possible. No one wants a mob around while they’re trying to make mashed potatoes and basting turkeys.
- Don't make everything yourself.
- Buy some stuff and have guests bring some stuff. Worried about the overall look if they do bring stuff? Don’t. Use your platters, but remember we’re being eclectic this year.
Does this help? I hope so! Because life is way too short to be stressed over things that don't really matter. But, in case you’re still feeling overwhelmed, I’m going to share one final foolproof tip. This one helps me every time.
- Grab a bottle of your booze of choice. I like red wine.
- Walk directly to the furthest, quiet room.
- Open the bottle of booze.
- Drink it.
- Fall asleep and let someone else do the dishes.
- Works every time.
Stacy Matson is a health enthusiast from Southern California and regularly blogs on Celebrity Health for A Healthier World, as well as contributing to the Best of Best.
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