Take these seven steps to make sure your holidays are enjoyable this year.
The holidays are delightful— and stressful. Planning ahead can dial down the stress to a manageable level.
- START WITH REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS
A lot of holiday stress comes from expecting too much from a family
get-together. You put yourself under unneeded stress when you expect everything to be perfect. It’s better to eliminate distractions ahead of time so you can focus on the pure pleasure of having everyone together.
- MEAL PLAN EARLY
Plan meals, and decide who will be in charge of what, weeks before the holidays. Planning ahead also gives you time to think about special considerations, such as food allergies, for family and guests. Holiday meals are often loaded with foods that are not the best for you. Look for healthy alternatives to traditional foods and more healthy preparation methods (see below).
- MANAGE THE NOISE
Noisy families are a source of joy for some, but not for everyone. Think about ways to separate louder activities and make plans for quieter activities. If guests include young children, plan activities just for them and assign one or more adults to supervise.
- ANTICIPATE SQUABBLES
Like it or not, not all family members get along all the time. Take time now to anticipate any relational problems that may affect your holiday gatherings, and decide in advance how to respond to them.
- PREPLAN LOGISTICS
Ask guests to let you know of any help they need with getting to and from airports or hotels, or of any special plans they have while visiting that might require a ride (or at least directions).
- ASK FOR HELP
There’s little reason to shoulder everything on your own, and you may be surprised at how willing to help people are if you let them know what you need from them early on. If you have a houseful, spread the responsibilities accordingly.
- DON’T FORGET TIME FOR YOURSELF
Even with a houseful, you need to stay on your regular routine as much as possible. Are you an early morning jogger? Let guests know you will be on the trail at a certain time and when you will return. Addicted to good books and long baths? Add that to the day’s schedule—and stick to it. Everyone will benefit if you feel free to step away from the group and retire to your special place to relax and recharge.
Before it all begins, ask yourself what really matters, then plan accordingly. Your guests will appreciate the outcome, and so will you!
Holiday Favorites Without the Guilt
❱❱Choose lean protein
Turkey and ham are healthy, lean protein options. But beware the sauces—they can move the needle in the wrong direction. Look for healthier versions of favorite sauce recipes.
❱❱Rethink the butter
We love butter as much as anyone, but too much is not a good thing. Try Greek yogurt, mashed bananas, applesauce, avocado or olive oil as delicious substitutes.
❱❱Spice it up
Salt brings out the flavor in holiday foods—along with blood pressure spikes. Kick up flavors with cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg instead.
❱❱Keep it colorful
When meal planning, be sure to add a healthy portion of red, green and orange to the list. That way you can load up on healthy veggies and (hopefully) have less room for the not-so- healthy stuff.