Hello 😊 Christmas is so close now! Who is in the mood for gingerbread, fir tree decoration, gift wrapping, hot chocolates and soft socks? ☃️
Personally, I’ve been for several weeks already! 😊 I don’t think I’ve said it here before (?) when I’m not writing for this blog, I’m a self-employed pastry chef which means that I only think about Christmas since the exact second Halloween party end 😁 But also that I am completely exhausted on the evening of December 24th, and it has already given rise to difficult situations.
These experiences have taught me many things and I want to share my secrets for an unforgettable holiday season!
1 | Don’t pressurize yourself
This is the golden rule, the one that should not be forgotten under any circumstances! It is even more important if you are the one who organizes the festivities! Since I was a child, I have been able to watch my family make Christmas and New Year’s Eve a magical time. The women in my family have an extraordinary talent for hospitality. My mother, aunts and cousin are incredible hosts, you feel instantly at home with them!
So I grew up admiring these hospitality champions who went to great lengths for their guests, who always left with stars full of eyes. As an adult, I wanted to follow their footsteps and take charge of organizing some parties.
Spoiler alert: just because we are from the same family doesn’t mean I inherited their skills! 😅
Sometimes I found myself working for hours in the kitchen to realize that the table had not yet been set when the guests were about to show up any minute. And when I really mismanaged my time, I was barely in the shower when they knocked on the door! (This really happened 😅 best moment of my life!)
In short, you will have understood it, if you set the bar too high and set yourself goals beyond your reach, not only will you be tense, but the party may also be tainted by a “detail” such as the lack of clean glasses because you wanted to bake three desserts and the rest came out of your head! (Do you feel the experience behind this example?)
It is necessary to put the holidays into perspective and restore their true value: a moment of joy shared with people you love. Period. Christmas Eve will not be any less fun if you don’t present the most beautiful dishes or if you are not perfectly manicured!
And if you really have trouble relaxing and taking the holidays a little more lightly, think about these questions:
What will my guests remember, the slight lack of seasoning in the main course, or the moment when I welcomed them with a big smile and a hug?
And me, what do I want to remember about this day?
I think the answers to these questions should help you to ease the pressure and be at ease if something doesn’t go exactly as you planned on D-day 😊 An unforgettable holiday season isn’t about perfection!
2 | Stop participating in the gift race
Think about what makes you happy at the end of the year. That’s it, you can already see the sparkling table, the decorations hanging on the windows, your smiling relatives, you can smell the perfume of resin mixing with the scent of gingerbread?
But have you visualized the moment when you’re going to run to the mall on the evening of December 21st because this dear Amazon delivered the comics that your little nephew asked for in a pitiful state? Let’s be honest: no one likes to have to rush into the stores a few days before Christmas. Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid this unnecessary stress!
* Buy gifts from November onwards. The store shelves are already saturated with Christmas stuff, minus the crowds!
* DIY presents. I can already see you frowning, wondering how turning into a DIY ace could make you have a more serene holiday. First of all, you will probably save money, which is always useful, you will have fun with manual activities and as a bonus, you will have the pleasure to announce “I did it myself” by handing out your pretty homemade creation! Nice, isn’t it?
* Opt for dematerialized gifts. Gift vouchers, digital books, cinema tickets, cooking lessons, planted trees… There are a thousand original ideas that don’t require to move around and can reduce a little your carbon footprint!
* Simply stop giving gifts. What, we have to say goodbye to Santa’s list? That’s right! This is the choice my family offered my brother and I when we entered adolescence. After the initial surprise, we listened to the arguments put forward by our parents. « You already have a lot of stuff, games and toys », « gaining some space won’t hurt » and last but not least « we’ll give the money saved on gifts to an association ».
Finally, we felt very happy and proud to abandon the tradition of Christmas gifts in favor of a beautiful gesture, it was an unforgettable holiday season for all our family. If it’s not already done, why don’t you try it too? In addition to avoiding store stress, you will generate less waste and do a good deed for someone else. And that’s the holidays’ spirit ⭐
3 | Delegate without feeling guilty
Ahhhh, that’s certainly the most complicated point for me, and yet it can really save the day! Because yes, who said that guests should do absolutely nothing but put their feet under the table?
I really like the potluck principle, which consists of a « participative » feast, where each guest brings a part of the meal. It’s really a great way to take the pressure off your shoulders while making your hosts feel that their involvement is appreciated! You will see that it is very liberating to get rid of the obligation to prepare the entire Christmas menu!
If you choose this super friendly formula, think about making a list « who brings what » so that you don’t end up with five desserts and not a single drink!
Besides, it doesn’t have to be limited to the kitchen! For example, I know that I am not very good at managing dishes (see point number 1 😅) while my dear mother has a beautiful collection of plates and cutlery, which she is happy to bring to help me out!
Know that your guests will be happy to help you, and you will be much more relaxed, it’s a big win-win 😊
4 | Choose the right people to party with
This point may surprise you. Indeed, the well-established tradition in the West is to celebrate Christmas with family and New Year’s Eve with friends, to the point that we no longer ask ourselves the question, it has become an automatism. If it makes you happy to meet these relatives on occasion, it’s great 😊
But if it’s not the case, if being stuck between Uncle Charles and Grandma Jane fighting makes your hair stand out in advance, it’s time for a change! Doing things out of habit because it has always been like that, has it ever brought something positive? I doubt it…
I’m not advising you to get angry with your whole family right now! But if you want to experience a rather unusual Christmas (as a couple or with friends, abroad, in an amusement park…), there are ways to present it with kindness and without offending anyone. If you don’t know how to do it, don’t overthink it: say it simply and honestly. The reaction of your loved ones will necessarily be less negative than you anticipate and you will really spend an unforgettable holiday season, the way you chose it 😊
5 | Postpone the party… After the holidays!
If I haven’t lost you with the previous tip (by the way, thank you for sticking with me 😊) the title of this one will perhaps convince you that I have a very particular vision of the holidays! But stay a little longer, you’ll quickly understand what I want to tell with this sacrilege idea 😁
As I told you at the very beginning of the article, I am a pastry chef and Christmas is a very busy time, so much so that I sometimes need several days off to recover. When that’s the case, I don’t really enjoy the Christmas party, I’m having a hard time staying awake during the appetizer (and no, it’s not the champagne that makes that effect!), I have trouble participating in conversations and end up really falling asleep at around 9pm… In other words, not only do I miss the dessert (🙀) but I don’t keep many memories of the evening! When it first happened to me, I was so dissatisfied that I decided to organize Christmas 2. My guests arrived in mid-January after I took some rest, and I was able to really appreciate their presence and have fun in the kitchen. Since then, I love this tradition of celebrating in a different way, everyone is more available and relaxed! If you also work during the whole month of December, postponing Christmas an idea to try 😊
There you are, you have all the keys to make the holiday season a magical time ⭐ I hope it will be useful to you and you’ll have a good time!
On my side I’m going to take a little break, there won’t be any articles next week – anyway I guess you’ll be busy enough! So I’ll see you next year, I can’t wait to meet you again around here! 😊
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