Christmas is not just the time for giving, it is also the time for sharing and spending time with the ones you love.
Although Christmas and the holiday season can be a busy time for all of us, it is also the perfect time to bring everyone together to celebrate and remind us how lucky we are to have our family so near and dear.
We want to share a few helpful tips to make your holiday season a little less overwhelming (that are Nonna approved). So you can spend more time creating treasured family memories.
It just doesn't feel like the holidays without the sparkle, glow, and beautiful decorations that make everything feel so magical this time of year.
Aside from Halloween and other December celebrations there really isn't a need to decorate your home. To truly bring the Christmas spirit to life for your family and Santa Claus, decorating is one of the easiest ways to participate in the festive season.
Some of the ways you can partake in the festivities without having to “Griswold” your house (unless you really want to):
- Putting a festive wreath on your front door – whether simple, ornate, handmade or store-bought, a wreath brings something special and welcoming feels right to your front door.
- Adding a few lights to a Christmas tree/house plant, railing or fireplace mantel – inside or outside, this is a great way to make your space twinkle and glow, and really bring the holiday spirit to your space and feel a bit more magical.
- Place a few red or white poinsettia around your home to invite the Christmas spirit in – winter plants are a beautiful way to bring some beauty and wonder to your home for the holidays. These flowers can also make great gifts for other family members, teachers, or co-workers when you just aren’t sure what to buy.
Although some people may not enjoy the energy required when it comes to decorating, or feel very overwhelmed with the expectation, you can make it a fun family event by sharing it with loved ones and including lots of food. Some of our favourite get-together recipes can be found here if you are looking for some inspiration.
If you happen to have everyone together to help with the decorating process (see tip above!) it can be the perfect opportunity for a family photo op and capture all the memories in the making. Having everyone together each year is a blessing in itself but having a photo to look back is truly priceless.
Even if everyone isn’t together for decorating, there are lots of potential gathering points to bring everyone together for photos. Tree cutting, lunch or dinner out, tree lighting ceremonies, or simply a walk in the park in the snow.
Can’t make a gathering work for the holidays? That’s ok too. We know family can live far away, or the busy-ness of December is hard to navigate. A fun way to make it all work is to have everyone take a photo in front of their own tree and have a tech-savvy member of the family create a collage or slideshow to bring it all together to share!
Greetings and Messages
Christmas cards are a great way to provide an update of the year or connect with those we haven't seen in a while. It is also the perfect memorabilia to look back on over the years or include in your holiday decor. Cards are also the perfect thing to send to friends to let you know you are thinking about them and allow the extra touch of personalization.
Did you know, International Christmas Card day is December 9th? If you needed a reason to get those cards out, this is it! Even in a world of technology at our fingertips, holiday messages can be sent so easily with paperless/electronic cards that it is impossible to have an excuse not to.
How to Keep Everyone Fed
With everyone getting together for the holidays, sometimes feeding a large group can be a little overwhelming. We have a few recipes that will help feed the masses and keep everyone happy no matter how picky they might be. We also know that having a variety of options is the key to satisfying everyone’s taste and makes it easier to cook when Nonna’s dishware is only so big! Feast away!
Non- traditional recipes might just be the new tradition
When pleasing a crowd, we all have our go-tos. Our favourite recipes are a great way to bring some new flavour to the holidays and ensure a room full of smiles
- Family Size Bread Pasta Torte - for those pasta loving family members
- Sesame Seed Pork & Parmesan Sandwiches - for those lunchtime events
- Italian-style Bread Salad - a twist on stuffing for the adventurous folks
- Pasta & Meatball Meat Loaf Sandwich - can anyone says leftovers?
and if you are looking for a few smaller appetizers that are must-haves:
- Grilled Bocconcini Spiedini - great for snacking or and easy grab and go option
- Spicy Shrimp/Crab Bruschetta - if seafood is on the menu
Serve everything family style or as a buffet, for a great way for everyone to help themselves to as much as they want. This also allows for a potluck style option and takes the cooking burden off of the host (just make sure you label Aunt Lisa’s dish, so she gets it back before Easter!)
How to: Entertaining for Large Groups
When it comes to entertaining for large groups, it is always good to have a plan that is rigid enough for success but flexible enough that things can change as fast as the weather (remember the snowstorm of 1998?)
Things that can be planned or prepared in advance:
Recipe that you can make ahead of time, frozen or served at your gatherings that will feed many people
- Italian-style Bread Salad – if you have enough dishes, you can make as much as you want
- Make-Ahead Vegetable Strata – the perfect plan for Christmas morning
- Cranberry Bread Pudding – a great late-night dessert option, or a tasty breakfast treat
Table settings and dishes
- If you are using real dinnerware and you have some to spare, prep your cutlery and napkins in advance so they are easy to place and grab during your meal
- Pre-plan garbage and compost for easy clean up after dinner and to make for easy disposal
- Have an empty dishwasher or sink in advance so things can be loaded or washed quickly during clean up, so you aren’t faced with a cluttered kitchen the next day
- Have a planned place for guests’ outdoor wear if you live somewhere where snow coats and boots are required – you don’t want the front hall full of boots and coats that create a hazard as people arrive and depart
- Plan for taxi or car ride programs or places to sleep if people are consuming alcohol – being responsible is really easy if you plan ahead
- Relax and Enjoy
- Allow for some time to relax before your guests arrive, this allows you to be in a better head space and actually enjoy the holidays with your loved ones
Make the holidays great; remember to enjoy the good food, good company and good times!