This Holiday Season: Re-shift
Every year, the days leading up to the holidays kick off a time when you’re supposed to be spending as much time as possible with your family. But instead, you’re everywhere but home, buying gifts, running errands, planning trips and somehow squeezing in parties and meet-ups and celebrations.
If you want to make sure your season has more joy, and less stress, we’ve got five strategies to maximize your family and dear friend time.
Sign Up for a Delivery Service of Raw Ingredients for Meals
We know you would normally spend time picking out ingredients at the farmer’s market and taking them home to cook dinner every night. But honestly? You don’t have time for that this season. Instead of resorting to frozen lasagna, compromise with the dinner kit. Several services will deliver pre-measured ingredients for a fresh meal to your door. That means no harried trips to the grocery store or leftover produce rotting in the fridge. And you still get the benefit of spending time in the kitchen with your significant other or kid, chopping and mixing and cooking a meal together.
… Plated.com will help you entertain over the holidays.
Shop Online Instead of in Stores
Save the time you would spend driving, waiting in traffic, finding a parking space, waiting in line and schlepping it all home by sitting down to the vast repository of everything called the Internet. We’re trying to think of a good reason to head to the mall, and the only thing that comes to mind is the opportunity to peruse piles of goods, hoping that something will jump out at you for that special someone who has everything. But there’s an Internet version of that. It’s called the Gift Guide, and all of your favorite editorial and e-commerce sites have them. Right now, an army of writers and editors are picking out just the right thing for every kind of person in your life, from architects, to readers of nonfiction war history, to your three-year-old niece and your boss – by price point. Oh, and one last argument in online shopping’s favor? Most websites will gift-wrap and ship your gift right to the destination. Goodbye post office and luggage fees.
Make Your Wrapping Easy
Let’s say you do have a bunch of items to gift-wrap. That means hiding from your family in the basement, not to mention piles of spent tape and paper. Take a page from the Japanese with the furoshiki wrapping cloth. It’s beautiful, reusable and requires no tape, adding a sophisticated and eco-friendly element to all your gifts. For large gifts and presents for kids, go even simpler, with pretty pillowcases. Just dump the gift inside and tie it off with a nice ribbon. Even your partner can do it.
Furoshiki wrapping. Photo courtesy of Japan Style.
Choose Your Crafts and Cooking Carefully….
You may never do a lick of crafting the rest of the year, but suddenly, making a gingerbread replica of your home seems like a fantastic undertaking. Just choose carefully. There are crafts that will bring your family together (paper snowflakes) and crafts that will drive you crazy while the rest of your family gets bored and wanders off to let you finish (fancy cocktails and sugar cookies that look like Martha Stewart’s). So before buying materials for a special Christmas-y craft, food or drink, ask yourself, “Can we work on this together at the same time?” “Will everyone be excited about this and want to finish?” and “Will this taste just as good if I buy it from the store?” We’re big fans of those gallon jugs of eggnog, personally.
Make the perfect gingerbread house while your cell phone is carefully tucked away. Photo by Carrie Stephens
Divide and Conquer
Finally–and this is the most controversial but sanity-saving suggestion–pick which family to spend time with for each holiday. Trying to do morning with your parents and the afternoon with your in-laws for both Thanksgiving and Christmas means you’re spending most of your time on the road…and you’re still missing out on the celebration at each. Next year you can switch it up, and all will be merry and bright.
Alden Wicker is the founder of Ecocult, a blog devoted to the NYC sustainability scene. Her work has appeared on Huffington Post, Refinery29, EcoSalon, Greatist, Narrative.ly, xo Jane, Forbes and Elephant Journal.