Holiday Helpers, 2019 Edition

I don’t know about your holiday extravaganzas, but for us celebrations are going to start hot and heavy in a few weeks with Thanksgiving and roll straight on into the New Year. We are lucky enough to be able to host most of the celebrations- which, yes, is a decent amount of work, but it allows us a lot more time with family than if we were traveling to them (I work in healthcare so we are lucky to get the actual holiday off, but no guaranteed extra days). So we host Thanksgiving with both families, one Christmas with Rich’s side of the family (grandma, kids, grandkids, siblings), and then actual Christmas with my parents, and sometimes a New Year’s Eve Karaoke Spectacular. Oy!

This means a lot of logistics, a lot of menus/recipes, and a lot of people’s schedules and presents to track. Right now I’m utterly in love with Google Keep. It is so useful for keeping track of a wide variety of items. It sorts everything like electronic Post-It notes, but each note can be as huge or small as you like. I keep track of gifts, schedules, activities, recipes, and a thousand other non-holiday things all in one place. And, since you control the content, it is much more efficient than Pinterest or something else where you run the risk of broken links or false images. I’ll admit I’m a list maker by nature, but this is so handy and I can access it both on my phone and on the computer. I love it and I think you will too!

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No fail recipes are also a big deal in my world- I put a lot of value on sites where I can find something new and have a reasonable amount of confidence that it will a) be an easy to follow recipe even if its a technically difficult thing to make, b) turn out properly, and c) be delicious. We have a few family tradition recipes we like to make, but I like to mix it up and experiment with new, fun recipes every year. My go-to sites are: Smitten Kitchen, Bon Appetit, Cravings by Chrissy Teigen, and for desserts (and a few savory options) the Great British Bake Off recipes. May I recommend Bon Appetit’s Rough Puff Pastry and then using it to make this Apple-Almond Turnover? You’ll feel like a GBBO winner for hand making puff pastry (WORTH IT) and your guests will fawn over this decadent and delicious (but actually easy) dessert!

And with all these demands on your time, be sure to practice some self-care. My favorite ways to relax in winter are watching GBBO re-runs on Netflix and any British Gardening television I can get my hands on (BritBox, Netflix, YouTube, or a VPN) with a glass of vino (Bota Box), bourbon (Eagle Rare), or a cocktail. Alternately, scrolling CheapOldHouses on Instagram does wonders to restart and calm my brain.

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And when these logistics and creative juices just won’t stop running through my head at night, my favorite way to break the cycle is NatureSpace. I have the app on my phone and use the sleep timer function- it almost always (99.5% of the time) shuts off my brain and helps me fall asleep within 20 or 30 minutes. Magic I tell you!

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I hope this list of helpful things is indeed helpful for you as you roll into the holidays! I’ll get on a gift guide soon so you can check off all your holiday shopping too!



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