Lori’s Top 10 Stress-Free Holiday Feast Tips

November 19, 2011

Last year was my first Thanksgiving without family. Instead I made a new family of best friends. It was slightly stressful trying to coordinate everything, as most big events can be (at least for me). Since then, I’m thinking stress-free is the RIGHT way to go… either that or just go home for the holidays and leave the cooking to someone else…

OR, do things the stress-free way with my Top 10 Stress-Free Holiday Feasting Tips.

10. Keep your type of guest in mind when menu planning. Kids, seniors, and teenage boys all eat very differently. Offer a few simple foods for kids and those with delicate tummies. Think veggies, a homemade dip (hummus?), fruit slices, deli meats, and lighter fare.

9. Paleo, meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans alike, everyone has a preference. Keep things easy and fit for everyone on your guest list by using olive oil or vegan “buttery spreads” in dishes. If a recipe calls for cheese, think about serving it on the side, or offering up a small side without dairy, to please everyone. Trust me, us picky people are much appreciative!

8. Plan the meeting time accordingly. Consider time for arrival, mingling, a long walk post-dinner (gotta burn some calories!), and guests getting back home at a decent hour. And about that walk, it’s great to add some room for dessert- think post-dinner, pre-dessert walk.

7. Stick with tried and true. This is a tip I can definitely use and learn to love. Instead of “trying out” a new recipe, stick to something you know and love to reduce stress. If you’re an adventurous cook like me and just can’t help but deviate from this tip, try out your recipe ahead of time. Allow for adjustments and rest assure that your recipe will kick it out of the ballpark on the “big day.”

6. Do you have a gameplan? List your menu, shopping lists, and make a prep list. Starting with the time you want to eat and working backward works wonders on a seamless dinner party. If the tofurkey or turkey is done at 3 pm….

5. Planning makes perfect. (Ok, sometimes! But it doesn’t hurt to try…) Prep what you can ahead of time. Cut veggies and make your gluten-free stuffing the day before. Get the cranberry sauce ready a week before. Planning ahead will keep stress levels at bay while you have fun entertaining your family and guests.

4. Go light and simple. I’m talking appetizers here. Guests are there for the meal. Keeping appetizers relatively lower fat, lower calorie will keep things healthier, happier, and emptier tummies to load up on your main dish. I’m a lover of greens- think veggies!

3. Ask for help. Ask everyone to bring something to help out. It’s the holidays after all. Direct one party to bring wine, beer, a veggie platter, dip, or a healthful side dish. This works if you’re not super pick, like myself. 😉

2. Have “to-go” containers ready! Do you really want to have weeks worth of leftovers? Ok, yeah, but that’s beside the point. Your guest do too. And I know they’ll appreciate some leftover amazingness you’ve created for the holiday feast. Give them a little box of food and give your fridge a break.

1. Have fun and enjoy yourself. The holidays are a time to enjoy food, enjoy friends and family, and to relax (no work, remember!). Pour yourself some water, wine, and/or beer and leave the stress to someone else. This is your time to embrace love and gratitude and be with the ones that make you happy.

Happy Holiday Week, friends. I’m more grateful for all of you than you’ll ever know.

What are your healthy stress-free holiday tips?

Too much to read? Here’s the short version:


{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Christin@purplebirdblog November 21, 2011 at 8:40 AM

My plans fell through with my gluten-free neighbors, so I am making a meal for just me and Alex! I’m actually really excited about orchestrating the meal so I know I can eat everything, and I’m also excited about not having to worry about making enough for a huge group (especially in my tiny kitchen!). I may still hit up some other friends’ Thanksgivings once Alex goes to work so I can still get my socialize on (and more food, of course!) 😉


Jen@FoodFamilyFitness November 21, 2011 at 7:25 AM

All great tips! Can’t believe it’s the week of Thanksgiving already!!!


Pure2raw twins November 19, 2011 at 4:22 PM

great tips! i struggle with asking for help. i like to do things myself, but i know when cooking for a crowd getting help is nice


Katie November 19, 2011 at 3:11 PM

Love the tips, but I’m following the one at the very top – going home and leaving the work to someon else! 🙂

Yeah right. You know I won’t be able to resist helping.


teabagginit November 19, 2011 at 9:57 AM

i love your list – i definitely need to keep in mind the asking for help & sticking to tried/true recipes. i constantly try to do too much & please too many …. good to focus on quality not quantity!


Ela November 19, 2011 at 6:45 AM

These are great tips–I hope that following them makes it a wonderful time for you. Are you with your own family this year, though?

I can’t believe it’s already the holiday week, but I’m in Israel right now so time is all confused. Helped my grandma make kibbeh yesterday, and other things–was great to get her doing kitchen things.


Sarah November 19, 2011 at 6:30 AM

This is a great list, but I’ll also suggest that people following paleo might not be too happy about veggie oil ‘buttery spreads.’


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