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The holidays are approaching, which means stress levels across America will be rising as well.  The seasons of gratitude & generosity are wonderful times of the year but when you combine them with family dynamics, too many calendar events & lots of cooking on top of normal life, they can become so stressful that our focus gets skewed. 

Here are some of my best tips for Christ honoring, healthy & happy holidays:

  1. Don't sweat the small stuff  ~ We would all like for our holidays to look like they fell off a magazine cover but requiring all your guests to bring their contribution in a white dish so it matches the buffet might be a little overboard.  As I am getting older, I am definitely more focused on the moments of life together & the value that each person brings.  Don't get so wrapped up in perfection {especially if you are the hostess} that you not only don't enjoy the holidays, but you make everyone else miserable too.  God loves to see His children enjoy life.  {John 10:10}
  2. Keep your focus where it needs to be ~  Jesus should of course be main focus of everything we do, but don't let commitments or distractions keep you from being in the moment with your family.  Being present with family & friends honors Christ by honoring others.  There are so many distractions In our world today that vie for our time & attention.  If you have to put your phone in a closet to stay off of it, then do so.  Don't miss this opportunity to be present with the ones you love because this is what life is made of.
  3. Honor traditions & create new ones ~ Usually at the holidays there are multiple generations of family together.  Often someone will have a tradition that is special to them but maybe not so much to everyone else.  It's okay to honor that person by following the tradition near to their heart & still creating new ones that having meaning to others as well.  Every year, my husband & my daughter make the pumpkin pies together.  It's what they do.  Never mind that I'm the one with the food blog, they don't want me anywhere around when they are doing their thing.  No matter what your traditions are, don't skip them.  It will be what will be remembered for years to come.
  4. Don't knock food help ~ If someone offers to bring a dish, say 'yes'!  Don't feel like you have to do everything by yourself.  Likewise, if there's a way to save time & energy that can add value to your life by purchasing pre-made dishes or packaged items to help with holiday cooking, then do it.  Just make sure to check the ingredients list & don't sacrifice your health for a time saving item.  I totally value homemade from scratch items but it's not always possible & I promise I will be using some boxed mixes this year too! 
  5. Prep ahead ~ Plan & prep ahead as much as possible for holiday meals but also for everything surrounding it.  If you know you need to bring cookies to 2 different parties, then make them all at once & freeze them.  Baking ahead, pre-chopping & pre-sorting ingredients are all things I do on a regular basis in order to make quick work of kitchen time.  Many side dishes can be made a day or two ahead of the big event.  I also love to make double of a recipe in order to put an entire meal away in the freezer so busy nights don't end up getting filled with food that isn't so good for us.  This principle can be applied to holidays & beyond.
  6. Make a list {but be a rule breaker} ~ Lists are super important in order to "get it all done" but don't panic if you forget something or just run out of time.  There have been many holidays when I just didn't make a dish I had planned on because of time restrictions.  It's ok.  Remember the eternal focus & don't let your list control your joy.
  7. Eat leftovers - I love leftovers, but I know some people don't.  I think it emanates from too many meals microwaved until they were the texture of cardboard, but it doesn't need to be that way.  Leftovers are a great way to save time cooking & be able to spend it doing other things you love.  For leftover turkey, try replacing the meat in this turkey taco soup with your leftovers.  Then it becomes something totally new! 


Love, Cara