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Getting prepared for the holidays may entail doing a deep clean, sifting through recipes, polishing silverware or assessing the spice rack.
And whether you’re looking forward to hosting just your immediate family this year or going all out with a larger gathering, there are plenty of things that need to be checked off on any holiday preparation list.
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Susan Moore, a retiree from Wicomico Church, Virginia, who plans to gather with extended family this year at her house, says she makes a “ridiculously detailed list of what has to be done, when,” to avoid becoming frazzled in the lead-up and on the big day. “That way, I’ve thought it all out when it’s calm and nobody’s there.”
Dan Pashman, host of The Sporkful food podcast, agrees that pacing yourself and meal planning are imperative for this festive season’s “return to normal.”
“It’s like we’re out of shape in a way, unaccustomed to the pace of normalcy. So I think the most important thing you can do this Thanksgiving is slow down a little and spend time with friends and family,” he says. “So don’t sweat the small stuff and don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
And if someone offers to bring a dish? “Give them more things to bring!” Pashman says.
With that in mind, here are some tips to de-stress some of your holiday meal planning.
Pre-cook and prepare food ahead of time
For those of us without industrial kitchens at home, making the most of a four-burner stovetop and single oven must be factored into meal preparation. The more you can get ready in advance of the big day, the more smoothly things will go.
“Anything you can control, you should try to,” says Ken Rubin, chief culinary officer at professional online culinary school Rouxbe. “But remember that food is really about joy and bringing people together. … It shouldn’t be something that creates that sense of stress bearing down on you.”