Not Pretty, but Festive: How to Avoid Going Holiday Crazy

Image of a plate with four cookies: shortbread, chocolate chip pretzel, red velvet macaroon and a fortune cookie

 

Clockwise from top: egg nog fortune cookie, red velvet macaroon, chocolate chip pretzel, lemon chamomile shortbread

I am the type of person that gets HIGH ON CHRISTMAS. I especially love holiday cooking. I had a bit of a marathon session yesterday before going to a holiday crafting party. This month’s Bust magazine had a cookie spread that could not be passed up. I made all four batches in about 3 or 4 hours. The only one that turned out iffy was the fortune cookie (the one you’re looking at above is the best one, if that’s any indication). And of course, the shortbread is not vegan because vegan shortbread is a myth. I also made a batch of my mom’s famous spicy Chex “party mix” (or as I like to call it, Christmas crack). I was told yesterday that I cannot share the recipe. It calls for a cup of bacon grease, so I’m sure your heart is better off not knowing.

Anyway, I know how easy it is for festive folks such as myself to get wayyy too into the holidays to the point where it’s not even fun anymore. On top of that, my birthday is December 23rd, so from the week before Thanksgiving to New Year’s I’m like a kid who just finished her 78th chocolate bar: super hyper and seconds away from barfcrying. This year I want to be a little more zen about things. I’m trying to stick to my new life motto, “If you don’t have to do it or you don’t want to do it, don’t do it.” When you’re baking four batches of cookies and roasted cholesterol peanut-cereal, even though your heart is in it, it could easily derail. So here are 5 tips from an uncertified advice-giver on how to do it all while taking it easy:

1. Don’t drink and DIY

It’s a really nice idea to sip red wine while doing some holiday baking. I’m sure that works for some people, but when I’m on my third glass I start to confuse things. Which only leads to mistakes. Then dehydration kicks in and I’m feeling frustrated. Then I’m yelling at people and crying on the floor that I’m a failure. I’m exaggerating (totally…), but sometimes that’s what it feels like. Now, I pour a glass as a reward. When I pop my last batch of cookies in the oven, it’s time for celebrating, not while I’m trying to get eggs to form stiff peaks.

2. If something isn’t working, just stop

When I said the fortune cookies turned out “iffy,” it’s not that they didn’t taste good, but most of them looked like this:

Image of four misshapen fortune cookies

There was probably a time in my life that I would have cried over this. But this year, I am zen. Am I a lesser person for not producing perfect egg nog fortune cookies? I certainly hope not. Move on. I was maybe more disappointed that my fortunes weren’t going to be seen, but I can share them here:

 

Image of five homemade fortunes on top of a Bust magazine, including "None of your relatives will make a homophobic comment this Christmas" and "You will one day be a rumored vice-presidential candidate"

3. If you run out of something, improvise or just stop

Believe in happy accidents. With all the cooking that’s done during the holidays, it is inevitable that you will overlook something. On Thanksgiving. Thirty minutes before dinner. Consult a list of ingredient substitutions and move on.Don’t have the necessary substitutions? Try something else or eliminate it. The macaroon recipe called for pecans. I thought I had pecans. I did not. Moving along. The frosting called for 8 oz of cream cheese. I might have had 5. Add more powdered sugar and move along. I really wanted to make mulled wine. I was already an hour and half late to the party (my friends are pretty chill, so that wasn’t a problem), so I packed a bottle of tequila and moved along.

And good lord, if you did not have a hand in cooking something, don’t critique it. No one wants to hear “maybe you should have sprinkled pecans on these macaroons” when your back is still sore from BAKING FOR FOUR HOURS (nobody said that yesterday, but speaking from past experience).

4. Prioritize and delegate: stop feeling like you have to do everything

Every December 26th I swear I will never make any Christmas presents again. Then, every December 1st I am at a Michaels shopping for Christmas craft supplies. And by December 24th, I’m exhausted and miserable. I love making gifts for people, but when it’s all at once (because I’m not the type of person who starts prepping in August), I can make myself crazy. This year, I’m making gifts that can be created in batches: bath & body products, edibles, etc (OF COURSE NOT FOR ANYONE READING THIS). Set aside a day or weekend, turn on some music and enjoy yourself. Or, invite people over and have a crafting party. You mom will not know that technically your friend made her candle. You were in the room and that counts.

5. If you’re not at least kind of enjoying yourself, STAHHHP

I think most crafters cry at some point during a project. It probably seems silly to think about someone crying over a failed pie. But when you go the extra effort to DIY, you are inevitably going to have some feeling of affection towards your project. Not to mention we’re inundated with images of flawless homes, crafts, and meals from lifestyle blogs, the Food Network, and Pinterest (glory be to the Pintester). That’s not to say that you should give up at the first signs of frustration. But if whatever you’re doing starts to feel less like a puzzle and more like misery, maybe at least take a break?

I hope this helps! There should really be a new set of therapists who specialize in DIY anxiety.

Happy holidays!

Image of blog author against a stone wall with a white ceramic reindeer head

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2 responses

  1. First of all I would like to say fantastic blog!
    I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your head prior to writing.
    I’ve had a hard time clearing my thoughts in getting
    my thoughts out there. I do take pleasure in writing
    however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are generally wasted just trying to figure out how to begin.
    Any recommendations or hints? Cheers!

    Like

    1. I’m so glad you like my blog! I by no means should be giving writing advice, but what I want to say is that those first 10-15 minutes are not wasted. I often stare at my blinking cursor for long amounts of time. Often, I start posts and save them as drafts and come back to them weeks later to finish up. But I’m doing this as a hobby, so I try to write when I’m inspired, as opposed to when I feel obligated. That being said, I usually write when I’m by myself and it is quiet. Taking a few pictures first helps, too since I have a visual to write to. And just keep writing. The more you write, the more confidence you’ll gain. And not just in a public format, but journaling for yourself will help you gather your thoughts. Liquid courage helps too. Hope that helps!

      Like

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