Any holiday can be stressful…the preparation, the expectations, the busy schedule. But the winter holidays in particular, from Halloween through New Years can be particularly challenging. Sweets and alcohol abound. You’re traveling and/or have visitors. Workouts get pushed to the wayside and you feel like your schedule isn’t your own. It’s the end of your fiscal year on top of it all. And everyone wants you to “bring something” to the party. I’ve got you. This is my specialty! I always tell my clients that I’m not out to take your stress away but rather help reframe it and make a plan to survive it. So I’m here to chat about my top 6 tips for a stress-free holiday. Or maybe just….less stress. You’ve got this. Let’s chat.
6 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday
1. Don’t Procrastinate
There is no stress like the moment when you know you’re not prepared. Scrambling to get ready for a party you’re hosting or throwing appetizers together last minute on the way to an event only adds to the stress of the season. Buying gifts for people under pressure just isn’t as enjoyable as savoring the experience. I suggest calendar management for the whole season – October through November – syncing with your family so that you’re aligned and have clear division of tasks.
Meal planning really deserves a place in the holiday season and it becomes even more important when you’re very busy! Utilize your tools including meal delivery, online grocery shopping and delivery services as needed. Make meals ahead. My peanut butter and jelly granola, eggplant lasagna, and vegetarian chickpea stew are examples of breakfast, lunch and dinner that can be made ahead and served all week long. Plan out your meals each week, write it down, grocery shop and get family members or roommates involved in helping prep.
Want to host at your house? Don’t want to host this year? Need a day off without interruption? Avoiding alcohol this season? Feeling like you need some extra support this month? Speak up! I see so many people suffering in silence, wishing that people knew how to help. But unless you express what you need, it will be hard for others to know what you need.
For some reason, guilt and shame abound over the winter holidays so it’s time to break that cycle and speak up, being clear about what you need and how you’re going to find happiness this season. If you’re disappointed, let someone know! If you want more support from your partner, tell them and ask for help making a plan. If you have a vision for the way you want your holiday to look, speak up. I’m a direct communicator in life and always with my clients. Good communication is the key to happiness.
3. Moderate alcohol intake
The guidelines are clear my friends, one drink per day for women and two for men is what’s safest and that doesn’t change during the holidays. I firmly believe that alcohol is awesome and can fit into most people’s lifestyle if they want it to, but there are some nuances here. Holiday parties on the weekends, holiday parties at work, Thanksgiving wine, and Hanukkah cocktails quickly add up to more drinks than the recommendations. But over-imbibing has consequences. Many of my clients notice weight gain with too much alcohol. It can interrupt sleep and even negatively influence your mood. Don’t wait until the New Year to cut back – you CAN have balance even during the holiday season but it will require awareness and commitment.
If you need some healthy cocktail or mocktail ideas for New Year’s, check out this nutritionist roundup! If you love podcasts, I’m breaking down all things alcohol here on Sound Bites. And I’m on CNN here talking about why alcohol can give you the munchies.
4. Break Tradition
Tired of serving the same thing year after year? Me too! Last time I hosted Thanksgiving at my house in Seattle, I thought of all the things that I don’t enjoy about the holiday and I changed them. I don’t like having “dinner” at 2pm…I wanted it at 7pm. I wanted a longer, more social experience so I started with cocktails and appetizers as an opener to the meal so people could socialize more. I believe in trying new foods so I made several new dishes from scratch and focused on lighter, more veggie-packed twists on classics.
Don’t be afraid to change it up this holiday. What do YOU want? What would make it fun for you now? You don’t have to do what you’ve always done. Here are some of my personal favorite holiday recipes that challenge tradition a bit:
5. Moderate Sugar Intake
6. Prioritize Your Needs
Ginger Hultin,MS, RD, CSO
Thanks for visiting! If you’re like me: obsessed with eating, wine, going out and traveling, you’re in the right place. Champagne Nutrition® LLC is a Registered Dietitian-run concierge virtual practice helping clients look and feel better. On this blog, you’ll ﬁnd cocktails, mocktails, and plant-based recipes that are easy to make quickly at home and pack for leftovers on your adventures.