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holiday gift guides and controlling holiday stress

gift guide

The secret to managing the holidays? Just remember the two “P’s” – Preparation and Planning!

For a party or a big holiday meal, always make a game plan. You need to know more than just what dishes you want to serve. Time management and prepping, as much as possible ahead of time, are the keys. Once you have a menu in mind, the first thing to figure out is what time you would like to serve the meal or what time the party is to start. Take that time and work backward. If you need an example of what I’m talking about, look at my Thanksgiving timeline by clicking here.

Next, always look at your recipes and figure out what can be done in advance. I can’t think of even one occasion where I have cooked all the dishes for a large meal or the food for a party on the day of the event. Of course, some an item needs to be made or finished at the very last minute, just be sure to create the menu so that there are only one or two (at the most!) such items, not three or four, or you will be a frazzled wreck before the first guest rings the bell.

Don’t pull a Martha and believe that every single thing must be homemade. If you love the bread or pastries from the bakery around the corner or think that the butternut squash soup from the deli is the best you’ve ever had, purchase those items and serve them with pride, as they do in France! Speaking of soup, smooth and creamy soups make great hot or room temperature hors d’oeuvres. Purchase inexpensive shoot glasses at a store such as Cost Plus World Market and garnish with a few minced chives – so easy, impressive, and fabulous!

Finally, and most importantly, Have Fun! People want to celebrate, spend time together, and relax. The best way for your party or meal to be a success is to be sure you do the same. Enjoy!

Easy Gift Guide

If you love to cook or love someone who does, an easy way to make your list is to look at my “Basic Kitchen” lists. Just click on the links below for ideas. Even “The Basic Pantry” can be a great source of ideas. However, if that doesn’t work for you, you can go back to basics by purchasing traditional gift cards, which may be ideal for your loved ones.

Not to mention, gift cards are used in the corporate sector also to show appreciation to employees for their efforts. They are ideal because they combine cash’s flexibility with the personalization that comes with shopping at a specific store. Since employers are unaware of their employees’ personal preferences, they may be unable to provide customized gifts to their teams. That is why it is the safest option to give gift cards, which they most likely buy in bulk from gift card resellers to gift their employees on holidays such as Christmas and Easter.

Apart from that, a gift basket (or a stockpot) filled with pantry items such as whole nutmeg, smoked paprika, or a variety of finishing salts is also an ideal gift. I’ve had boxes that come with bottles of artichoke hearts, capers, mustards, sun-dried tomatoes, or vanilla beans. How about packages of dried wild mushrooms, pine nuts, and basmati rice? See what I mean? Things like this are always a great idea for any food-lovers in your life!

Must have cookbooks

Small electrics

Baking equipment

Utensils, measuring, and bowls


Pots and pans

Pantry items

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1 Ronnie Jaap { 12.09.09 at 11:58 AM }

These are great hints and suggestions. You are the best!

2 Linda Hopkins { 12.09.09 at 1:04 PM }

Thanks Ronnie, look at you still commenting, even after the contest wrapped up last night 🙂 YOU are the best! xoxo

3 Sharon { 12.09.09 at 1:27 PM }

So cool – I made the blog. I’m showing my husband these lists right now! Thanks for everything and Merry Christmas!

4 Linda Hopkins { 12.09.09 at 4:09 PM }

Sharon, thank for the great idea, and hope Santa comes through for you 🙂

5 Amy Kilpatrick { 12.10.09 at 10:34 PM }

Are you good at organizing your friend’s kitchen too? ; )
love ya! xoxo

6 Linda Hopkins { 12.10.09 at 10:53 PM }

I would do that for you, my friend! xoxo

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