A Stress-Free Holiday Dinner IS Possible (promise!)

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Pandemic, politics, family drama… holiday dinners in 2020 (and beyond) are stressful, there’s no doubt. 

It’s especially true if you’re the one hosting the holiday dinner. On top of dealing with the peculiarities of this weirdo year, there’s the meal, the space, the cleanliness, the kids- it’s enough to drive a busy parent freaking nuts. 

I’m not saying I have a magic wand when it comes to making holiday diners stress free. There’s gonna be some intense moments, no matter what (and for that, there’s always meditation, baby) 

But I’ve assembled some tips I plan on keeping on hand this year as we navigate through a Very Strange Holiday Season, With Kids. 

Embrace the Crazy

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I know you’re heard this time and time again, but I’ll add to it: It doesn’t have to be perfect. 

I navigate stressful holiday meals by embracing two things: Delegate and Accept the Ridiculous. 

  • Keep it simple – paper plates and other disposables are fine. I’m normally the queen of reusable (Stasher Bags 4 Lyfe) But paper plates are a perfectly acceptable substitute for lightening your load for the holiday meal. Don’t want to go full disposable? Just use paper products at the kid’s table, and the nicer stuff for the adults.
  • You don’t have to do everything all by yourself; put those high energy kids to use! Have the kids make decorations for the table. Have them cut a bunch of construction paper to use as confetti. Or make namecards for every place setting. Or hang portraits of every guest on the back of their chair. It keeps the kids busy and could be a sweet keepsake, too.

Keep a Meal Time Backup Plan

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Proper planning ensures good results. Always keep in mind that no matter how well you’ve planed, things can fall apart- and that’s normal! 

Your kid could jerk the tablecloth and send the dinner tumbling down. Someone could mess up the sauce and ruin the dinner. So I keep a backup plan in the back of my mind- just to help safeguard against a mental breakdown.

  • Keep a few DIY Meal Kits on hand to break open in case of emergency
  • Keep  a short list of which restaurants are open- just in case you have to totally throw in the towel
  • Have the meal be a potluck of sorts; guests bring side dishes, and you do the Main Event (turkey, etc) in your own kitchen. If one meal fails, you’ve got the others to fall back on.

Create Fun, Simple Traditions

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It could be a game of monopoly or a kiddie bake-off. Creating fun, simple traditions that will keep your guests engaged and entertained helps take pressure off the small talk, and creates memories for a lifetime. 

Simple, fun traditions like:

  • making ornaments for each guest to craft together and then bring home.
  • doing a family breakfast instead of the dinner.
  • Cookie competition: every guest brings a cookie (homemade or store-bought) and everyone votes on the winner.
  • take a walk around the neighborhood after your meal
  • Everyone watches the same movie after the table has been cleared

Above all: relax. It’s just dinner. With everything else this year has already thrown at you, you deserve to enjoy it for what it’s worth. Look around, and be thankful for the things you have- the people you love – the food on your table. Wishing you and your family all the best this holiday season!