As wonderful as the holiday season can be, there’s often too much going on. The added stress means your home truly becomes your haven. Here are a few tips from us at Dunpar on how to maintain a peaceful oasis in the midst of holiday reveling.
Write a gift list and stick with it; combine online shopping (for the delivery) with in person shopping (elevates holiday feeling). Make sure to set aside some time to take in the Christmas windows — Streetsville, for example, has a window contest this year — take time for a cappuccino or lunch with a friend, who can also be a sounding board on some of those impulse buys.
This applies to hosting dinners or drop-ins. Devise a comprehensive list, keep menus simple, make things ahead of time, and stock up on basics (nice crackers, cheese, nuts, olives, drinks, mixers, wine). Better yet, ask each person to bring a specific course for the dinner (salad, dessert, veggies, etc.).
Discuss in advance who is hosting what. Things get complicated with grown children and their spouses, and divorced doubles the scheduling headaches. Doodle to the rescue! This amazing online tool lets everyone put in when they’re available. Negotiating is great but trying to accommodate everyone’s schedule will drive you crazy. If nothing will work for Christmas Eve and Day, consider alternate dates — dinner on Boxing Day instead.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Buffet and potluck are perfectly acceptable alternatives to sit down dinners. It’s also ok to tell people what category to bring (salad, dessert, main) for the potluck. That deck just off your new kitchen is perfect for storing extras, with some protection from weather.
Recent research reveals that people now get together more frequently with neighbours than with friends and family. Hosting a neighbourhood drop-in party is easy – just drop photocopied invites in everyone’s mailbox to your Saturday morning coffee party or potluck dinner.
Try hosting a cookie baking party. You make sure the basics are there – a good oven, plenty of flour, butter and sugar – and everyone else brings their recipes and main ingredients, plus boxes to package them in. Even more special is taking the cookies to a local drop-in centre or shelter.
Don’t stress over perfect decorations – do the Kondo on these and put up only what you absolutely love and give away the rest. Outside, exterior lights are pretty but not at the expense of your sanity. Those sound and light shows are wonderful as punctuations to the otherwise sedate décor around, but you don’t have to do it.
Keep your DIY intentions under control. With all the other expectations at this time of year, knitting a sweater or building a treehouse is not something to start now – it will likely end in frustration. On the other hand, beautifully boxed, homemade edible gifts are always welcome – specialty olive oils, tapenade, caramel butter, candied orange and orange syrup, crack corn (caramel and parmesan cheese).
CREATE OASIS SPOTS
Schedule downtime – for walks, reading by the fire, doing yoga — otherwise it won’t happen and you’ll be totally wired by the time Christmas day arrives.
For out of town guests, make up simple travel baskets for the bedrooms and baths especially since your new Dunpar townhome has plenty of both. If you’re expecting a crowd, research local hotels too.
Create a space to withdraw – even a recliner and a basket of books in the spare bedroom can be an oasis. Reading to children (and grandchildren) is a great bonding activity – and helps calm kids if they’re getting too wired during the festivities.
Alternate outside activities (school concerts, Santa Claus sightings, visiting) with quieter indoor activities like cooking and baking — kids love the accomplishment of contributing to the family dinner. Board games and puzzles keep kids occupied for hours, and are also a good way for family bonding.
Play music. Often. It’s easy to set up a system with Sonos (plug it in, download the Sonos app to your Wifi connected phone, tablet or computer, and set up). Create your own playlists, or borrow some online.
Flannel sheets for the beds are cozy, warm and inviting. Splurge on matching flannel PJs for the whole family. Keep extra pillows and throws in the living room for lounging around watching favourite Christmas movies.
Make sure to include traditions – rituals are effective at marking time – like using the familiar Christmas plates, caroling in the neighbourhood, working at the food bank.