Archives for December 2013

Holiday Time: Simple vs. Pleasures

During the holidays, do you prefer to keep things simple, or do you go all out? Do you decorate your house from top to bottom, send out tons of holiday cards, plan and prepare a large family dinner, bake lots of cookies, plan special family events, follow traditions, and so on? Or do you feel overwhelmed just by reading that list?

Christmas Tree

I think it is a balance between keeping things simple, but also satisfying your pleasures.

I absolutely love Christmas time – decorating, gift wrapping, spending time with family, seeing the holiday lights, going to various events, and so on. And, sometimes, there is even snow! It is so beautiful when you can stay inside and watch it, or when it doesn’t interrupt travel plans.

The holidays are the one time of the year that I typically break out the cookbooks, search online for recipes and really plan out a menu. Yes, if I host a party I may do this on a smaller scale, but it is really Thanksgiving and Christmas that I get into it.

But it can also be a lot of work. My family says, oh just keep it simple. Just make some basic everyday food. That will be fine.

Yes, that is simple, but that is what we have every day the rest of the year! The holidays are my time to experiment, try new things, and feel proud of those accomplishments. Each year I also like to add to “my favorites” binder of recipes. I can only do this if I try out new ones.

So I have to find a balance between keeping it simple and not stressful and satisfying my pleasure of cooking and baking. It is a challenge.

However, since I find pleasure in planning the menu, shopping for the groceries, cooking, baking, and even making the little menu cards, it really feels fine to me to not keep it too simple. Because in this case, keeping it too simple would take away the joy of it for me.

How I simplify my holiday cooking and baking pleasure:

  • I flip through my cookbooks or search online for ideas or inspiration. It is fun to discover new recipes. I print out or photocopy all the recipes I plan to use.
  • I order my groceries online. It is so simple to type what I need in a search box than spend time searching for it in the store! I pick up my groceries from the store: I drive up, I pay, and they put the bags in my car! Very simple!
  • I do any baking and pre-cooking or prep that I can the day before the big event or holiday.
  • I use slow-cooker recipes when possible. Just throw in the ingredients and let it cook itself. I have a couple of slow cookers so I can keep the food warm as guests arrive.
  • I use recipes that have similar ingredients and that make a lot of extras (leftovers take care of several days of meals!).

So when it comes to whatever you take delight in during the holidays, remember to keep things simple as much as possible, but don’t let the “simple” take away the pleasure in the things.

What types of holiday pleasures do you enjoy that aren’t quite simple?