Its always fun to write about the parties and joy that come with the holidays, but all those festivities come with a fair amount of pressure. While it’s easy to discount those stresses as “luxury problems” they are real and can be triggered unexpectedly. Here are a few thoughts on combating/coping with the holiday blues–perhaps before it even strikes.
Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays. As a pre-teenager through my early twenties, I remember my mother and father hosting a couple dozen people in our formal dining room on the upper west side. It’s funny how specific memories may fade but flavors remain–ricotta and sausage stuffing (we’re Italian), antipasto salad, my mother’s apple pie and my aunt’s pumpkin chiffon pie.
Looking at the second half of November always makes me excited for the upcoming holiday season. In our family we celebrate Thanksgiving, Chanukah and Christmas but no matter what celebrations you may have in store, food is usually the common denominator we all share.
I really enjoy food deconstruction–taking well-known food concepts and constructs and presenting them in new, delightful and, of course, delicious ways–especially when you want to surprise your guests. I’m not a chef but I love to entertain and I love to cook and when there is a trend I like to mull it over and see if it’s right for me (I do the same thing with fashion–not every fad works for my shape and frame). Usually that means starting slowly, taking a toe-in-the-water approach. Here are the ways I tried to tackle the deconstructed food trend this year that will likely end up on my table this holiday season.
Despite my passion for gift-giving and shopping (it’s kind of the whole premise for this blog) when it comes to the holidays, hosting and feeding my family and friends takes the cake–literally and figuatively. I love preparing the menu, decorating our house with my husband and kids–well, he watches and directs while we decorate but it’s still really fun–finding a fun activity for guests to break the ice and then pulling it all together. That said, I also visiting family and friends: our annual tradition of going to my aunt’s for Christmas Day, celebrating New Years Eve with my husband at “our” restaurant where we had our wedding reception, watching all the kids and grown-up men get sweaty and hungry playing soccer (or maybe it’s football) on Thanksgiving at my in-law’s.
Whether it’s an established tradition or a new invitation that finds you celebrating in someone else’s home, it’s customary to bring a token of thanks. I’ve written about hostess gifts before, and my “rules of the road” (a bunch of them will work for the holidays too so feel free to check them out again, particularly this one and this one) but these gift ideas focus on unexpected and holiday specific ideas to warm the hearts and homes of your hosts.
Remember when Holiday shopping started AFTER Thanksgiving? Me too! This year I started getting catalogs and emails after my kids went back to school. Then the panic started–have I been asleep at the shopping wheel, should I be more prepared? Every year it seems we get inundated with Christmas promotions and Chanukah sales earlier and earlier but what this also means is that ultimately people ARE shopping so there is more competition for selection so starting to think about your gift list now is prudent. That’s why I’m dedicating my regular end-of-month toy feature to gifting ideas and thought starters, as always from Amazon.com. Enjoy!