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Since we're on the home stretch to the holidays, here's a few easy things to do to lessen stress later, when you're making meals and entertaining:

  1. Clean the refrigerator; organize the freezer. Time will depend on condition of course, but stay focused and you'll have it done in no time. With a clean fridge, you won't be embarrassed if a guest opens the door to retrieve something. You'll also have more room for left-overs and goodies. Short of time? Break up the task over two or three days.
  2. Declutter the counter. Showcase your holiday decorations and expand your food prep area, as well as give your kitchen a tidy and efficient look.
  3. Make a list of what you'll need, spices or condiments to pick up, last minute treats to get. Don't shop without a list. That usually results in forgotten items, countless market trips and a basket full of food you might not need. And shopping when hungry is not advisable - everything looks way too good. Need a sparkling fruit beverage for the kids so they don't feel left out when you offer a holiday toast? How about napkins and other table linens?
  4. Ready your essential kitchen tools for the planned meals and desserts you intend to make, just in case some items have transitioned over to the camper, garage or basement. Avoid spending several minutes looking for the baster when the meal is cooking. Note things often forgotten: Napkins, trash bags and cranberries.
  5. Organize as many kitchen drawers as you can; even just the cutlery is good. Avoid a guest reaching into a messy kitchen cutlery drawer or dangerous sharp knife storage. It's amazing how many crumbs tend to migrate into kitchen drawers.
  6. Wash and dry your festive or seasonal stemware, dinnerware and other tabletop. That will save time when setting the table.
  7. Recheck your gift list.  Remember that a gift basket is often ideal and reduces that 'I don't know what to get' stress.

And relax. Enjoy the season - it should be a time of fun, giving and building memories.

For more tips, see my Holiday Readiness Plan, Hosting a Stress-free Dinner and Essentials Guests Will Notice (or Miss)

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