Making time to reconnect with loved ones is a wish topping many lists this holiday in Harlem, so set aside the chaos and commit to doing more this year.
More of what you truly enjoy, that is.
These time-saving holiday hacks can help curb your time commitments so you can focus on personal connections and celebrating good cheer with loved ones instead.
1. Spread out prep time. If you’re busy putting the final touches on a meal as guests begin to arrive, you’ll miss out on the excitement as the party begins. Rely on tricks to spread your meal preparation out over the days before your event, such as making sides and casseroles ahead of time and freezing them so all you have to do on the big day is pop them in the oven. Mashed potatoes are a notorious last-minute time suck, so make them early in the day and keep them warm in a slow cooker. Just add a bit of cream and stir periodically to keep them soft and fluffy.
2. Simplify cleanup. After enjoying a meal surrounded by loved ones, there’s no reason to halt the conversation while you slip away to bring order back to the kitchen. Cover dishes and put perishables away then return to your guests for the quality time you deserve. If you use disposable tableware, there’s even less to worry about later. The plates and bowls are strong enough to serve the heaviest, messiest meals with style then you can simply toss them when you’re done.
3. Shop local for shortcuts. Local businesses are feeling the crunch of 2020 in a big way, but you can give them a boost while doing yourself a time-saving favor. Pick up a pie or specialty dessert from a local bakery. Inquire about family-size sides from the family restaurants in your community. Also remember to check with school-age children you know, as many seasonal fundraisers offer pre-made holiday desserts and other treats you can share with guests with minimal effort.
4. Get out of the house. If you’ve spent too much time this year looking at your own surroundings, getting away from it all may lift your spirits while saving the hours you’d pour into getting your home ready for entertaining. Community groups with their own facilities often have space available to rent, and these spaces are typically large enough to maintain social distancing requirements and are subject to rigorous cleaning protocols. Alternately, if you’re keeping the guest list small, renting a vacation home offers the opportunity to turn the seasonal celebration into a short road trip for added memories and joy. With some simple decorations, you can create a fun atmosphere for your holiday event and skip the headaches of hosting at home.
5. Go short and sweet. If the idea of a full-fledged dinner event is stretching you too thin, look for festive ways to scale back. For example, a dessert-only party lets you gather with loved ones and keep the focus on the company rather than the food. Plan themed stations with different styles of desserts and consider asking family members to help stock each station with their own favorite treats. Add a touch the collection also includes cups and stemless wine glasses ideal for a beverage table or single servings of desserts like mousse or parfaits.
6. Invite technology to the party. With group gatherings and travel restrictions likely to continue in many parts of the country through the holiday season, there’s a good chance you may not be able to gather with everyone you’d like. However, the pandemic has shown how simple it can be to use technology to stay connected. Go ahead and schedule a virtual party or make time to jump on a video chat during your celebration to include those who can’t be there in person. To help add a touch of normalcy to the festivities, consider packaging and sending small boxes of party essentials in advance to each person who’ll join the virtual party.
7. Make giving a group effort. Helping those in need is a tradition many people honor around the holidays, but this year your giving is likely to be especially impactful. When you join efforts with family or friends, your contributions can go even further, and it’s a way to bond over your shared experience. Consider volunteering as a group at a food pantry, adopting a family or two together or finding another local cause that could use some extra help and count your blessings while you enjoy the extra time together.
8. Simplify gift-giving. As families grow, the gift lists get longer. However, especially in a year like this, not many wallets have expanded to keep up with the pace. Forgo the time and money required to buy for everyone in the family and start a new tradition by drawing names and instead of buying smaller items for a lot of people, put a little more toward a single item your recipient truly wants or needs.
After a whirlwind of a year, this holiday season promises to be a little different than those of years past. Instead of lamenting what won’t be the same, treat this year as an opportunity to deck the halls in a whole new way.
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