If you're anything like me, among the every day stresses of work and life, plans for the holidays are whirling in your mind. From gift ideas, menus, decorations, crafts, and more, there is always so much to do starting this early is really the only option. But we never do, do we? We assemble plans of grandeur but, ultimately, find ourselves scrambling at the last minute anyway. So this year, think of this article as the friendly reminder to get started, NOW.
First and foremost: STOP biting off more than you can chew. Since starting my catering business this year, I have learned the very wonderful value of enlisting help. I don't just mean hiring extra hands, but stopping the endless notion that I need to do everything myself. I know that I have written about this before, but I really can't stress this enough. Cut the right corners where you need to.
I'll give you an example.
Last year, I had the unbelievable pleasure of cooking for Top Chef host, Padma Lakshmi for her Endometriosis Foundation event at Lenox Hill Hospital. I pulled out EVERY stop for that breakfast/luncheon, and although it completely paid off, it was overwhelmingly exhausting. The foundation personally requested "the chef from last year" to participate in this year's event (that would be me!). So, of course, I was honored to participate.
Although, this year, I didn't roll 100 croissants by hand, or try to create tray after tray of cinnamon buns, baked the morning of (4:30am) to be super fresh. Helloooo! How ridiculous I was!
This year, I purchased pastries from a local bakery that I know make a perfect chocolate croissant and I put my focus into creating a delicious and hearty lunch. Who would have thought! I not only saved hours of time, but, particularly, my sanity. You will not be or feel rewarded any more if you make EVERYTHING, versus just making MOST things.
Learn to cut the right corners. If that means Thanksgiving is going to be a pot luck affair, then go for it!
For our first of 12 Weeks of Christmas, the first task is to set yourself up with a binder or notebook. Keep the book handy to jot down notes as you go. If you are out shopping and a potential gift catches your eye, write it down. Or better yet, we all have smart phones these days, right? How about snapping a picture and saving it to a "Holiday gifts" folder. Even if you start buying now, make a note of what you buy so you don't find it buried in your closet next June when you're looking for that 2-piece.
Whether virtual or hard copy, separate your binder into 5 categories: Food/Recipes, Gifts, Decor, Card Recipients & Guests, and ToDos. Add a sturdy plastic enclosed folder towards the back for receipts, so you can keep track of spending. Use the same binder for every holiday, so if you're hosting Thanksgiving with friends this year and then have the family over for Chanukah, switch out any recipes or decor ideas as they come along. Or if you feel you'll have way to much going on for each event, have a binder for each holiday and color code them so you know which is which.
I'll be putting my binder together to get started on planning and prep for my holiday, Christmas. Even if you don't celebrate the holiday, follow along for your own festivities, and, of course, the events from now until then. I will be setting up 2 binders, one for personal and the other for business; the pie orders are already starting to fill in. Don't go crazy spending more time putting your binder together than doing what's inside it. Just a simple 3-ring binder, page dividers, and plastic inserts will do the trick.
The important thing to remember is to go towards every task individually. If you try to do everything at once, you will most certainly be overwhelmed and miss out on actually enjoying the holidays. Stop stressing about how much stress is coming your way, start with this task, and next week, we can work on the next one...