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Simplify, Simplify

Remember that Thanksgiving you dropped the green bean casserole on the way to the table? Or when the cat found the dessert you put atop the car in the garage to cool? How about the year you tried a new stuffing recipe that was an insult to your turkey?

Hopefully, those mishaps didn’t ruin your mood and everyone else’s day. In retrospect, how important are they? Remember that guests can be very forgiving, and they’re probably just glad it wasn’t them this time around!

Arabella always began her meal preparation on the very day of the big dinner­baking pies, assembling casseroles, cleaning and stuffing the turkey. As her morning of cooking for 20-plus guests wore on in the too-small kitchen, so did her frustration, until tension and stress became the order of the day. This is probably not the tone you wish to set for your guests.

Had Arabella followed a few of these tips, chances are her mood would have been more celebratory. There are shortcuts all hosts and hostesses can take to ease the stress of holiday entertaining, and the Internet is full of helpful suggestions.

1. Cut down on the decorating.

2. Focus your house-cleaning only in areas where entertaining will occur. (If you lock the bedroom doors, you won’t even have to make the beds!)

3. Do as much baking and prep cooking as possible in advance.

4. Save your best silver and fragile glassware for less hectic seasons when you have more time to polish and hand-wash them.

5. If someone offers to bring a dish or to help in any way, graciously accept.

6. Your reputation as a great cook won’t be tarnished if you prepare your own one or two specialties and purchase pre-made sides or desserts. In some cases, it’s cheaper to buy an entire prepared meal.

7. Forget about composing and sending an annual newsletter.

8. Give one whole-family gift instead of many individual ones (tickets to a special event, a family-friendly video game, a Blu-Ray DVD player).

Recognize that some things will be out of your control, for instance, when the
Christmas tree falls on top of the children (no injuries), or the oven quits working halfway through roasting the bird. You wouldn’t be the first to serve Big Macs with your cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Whatever can be done to simplify the meal and other preparations will let you and your guests enjoy the special day. You don’t want to be so stressed and
anxious that your guests feel uncomfortable. Maya Angelou, American author and Poet Laureate, observed: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Whichever holiday you will be celebrating this season, when your door opens to family and friends, may it pour forth a warm welcome, joy, and grace. And may all of you feel it long after. To your health, and Happy Holidays to all!

Article by Constance Watkins