TTT- Tuesday’s Tasty Tip with Chef David Hall

TTT – Tuesday’s Tasty Tip – Preparation for the Holidays

November is here and the holiday season is rapidly approaching.

The holiday season can be a very trying or stressful time for many. It may be the first holiday season without a loved one you lost during the prior year. You may be apart from the ones you love because of military service, emergencies, business demands in a down economy, etc. You might not have the funds needed to bless those you love in the ways you want to, and are trying to figure out how to make those shrinking dollars stretch. If you have many family members in the same geography, how do you decide whom you will spend time with, and how much, without someone feeling left out? Finding balance is often very tough because there is so much to do and time is at a premium. Here are some suggestions and ideas to help you not only survive the holidays, but thrive in them. My hope and prayer is that I would practice what I preach and do some of the things listed below.

Enjoying the holiday requires smarts, planning and executing the plan. Taking time to develop a realistic plan is a wise investment of your time. Please consider the following:

Shopping:
Live within your means. Often our hearts are bigger than our wallets. Resist the temptation to spend what you do not have. Paying off the previous year’s holiday debt tends to suck the joy out of this year’s shopping. Take time to make a budget listing how much you can afford to spend without going into debt.
Make a shopping list and stick to it. Resist impulse buying. If it is not on the list, do not buy it.
Buying online can save time and money, but shop wisely. Many department stores not only have greater offerings on their online stores, but prices may be lower. Many offer free shipping during the holiday season. If not, consider the cost of shipping weighed against the amount of time you would spend fighting traffic on the streets and in the parking lots. With specialty online stores without “brick and mortar” in your state, you might be able to avoid sales tax!
Don’t wait until the last minute. You are less likely to find what you want at a good price.
If you find a great deal, consider buying several that people on your list would like. This also saves you time as well as money.
Consider giving gift cards. You can find gift cards for everything from dinners to hardware stores, and they are quick to buy and easy to send through the mail. Giving someone a massage gift card shows you recognize a possible need in their life that they will appreciate. Avoid giving the standard Visa prepaid debit card as this lacks some thought. Gift giving will be boring if everyone merely gave each other a plastic debit card, which is essentially money swapping.
If you are talented, handmade gifts are usually appreciated the most, but consider the investment of time required.
Let the postal/shipping services be your friend. Most will come to your home and pick up your packages instead of you lugging them to the shipper. This will eliminate you waiting in long lines.
Consider the amount of time required to shop, making sure you allow for heavy traffic on the streets and in the parking lots.
Family:
If relatives will be visiting with you, know exactly how many will be staying with you. Prepare their room(s) two weeks ahead of their arrival to make sure you have bedding and can shop for it if needed.
If you have repairs around the house, allow yourself 4 to 6 weeks to get these done before guests arrive.
Make some small baskets that have nice toiletries available in their rooms. People often forget some of these things when rushing to pack and get out the door.
Two days prior to guests arrivals, dust and clean all the rooms in the house, except the guest rooms. If you have kids, enlist their help.
Dust and vacuum the guest rooms the morning of their arrival.
If you are traveling, remember to include allowances for flight and traffic delays.

Entertaining and Dining:
In the next posting, I will provide details in a plan (or roadmap) for planning your dinner parties and family gatherings in such a way that you can be relaxed and enjoy your guests.

Remember, celebrating during the holiday season is really about bringing people together. Direct your thinking and activities around this concept. Sometimes is it best to “Just Say No” cutting out unnecessary activities. Anything that doesn’t provide a significant emotional payoff far outweighing the time, energy and financial investment made should be taken off the calendar. Really enjoying the things that you and your family end up doing is what makes the holidays something you want to remember.

Lastly, the greatest gift you can give is the gift of yourself. So take time out to care of YOU in such a way that there is something left to give to others.

Blessings,
Chef David Hall

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