So it’s the holiday season, and time to enjoy the 3 f’s – family, friends and food. No matter what you celebrate or if you celebrate, here are some ways you can prepare for the season.
1. Check your local newspaper for the events calendar or check out all the fliers hanging around when you go to the grocery store. Most papers print the events in a special section or in the community calendar and many also include it in their online papers.
Mark the events you want to go to and put them on your calendar. You’ll be surprised how many free or low cost events you can attend! If you have kids, this is a great way to find several things for them to be involved in that they’ll be talking about for years! If you live in a city with box window displays at downtown stores, like those at Macy’s in New York City, “don’t miss” going to see them!
2. Know in advance who’s coming to dinner. If your tradition is to eat out for a special holiday meal, make sure to make your reservations well in advance if the restaurant allows it. You don’t want to be stuck without food or cheer! If you’re cooking, get to the store when the prices drop on certain items and stock up.
Do you have a vegetarian, a vegan, or a recovering alcoholic coming over? Make sure you have the proper foods available to cook vegetarian meals and something to drink besides alcohol. Always add in a couple servings to the recipe just in case a friend or two drop by for good eats. At my house it’s a given that at least one of my siblings’ friends will drop by unannounced (or announced) and my mom always has enough ready. You know you’ll have plenty of dishes to do later, have everyone use disposable plates and bowls for all meals so you don’t find yourself doing dishes all the time.
3. If you sit at a table for holidays make sure to have enough seating available. Table and chair rental places run out of inventory pretty quickly, so last minute searches may have you at Walmart buying chairs you don’t otherwise need. If someone is coming that needs special accommodations (wider walkways, a grab bar in the bathroom, a raised toilet seat, etc) do you have them? Make concessions ahead of time so you won’t get frustrated later or make your guests feel unwelcome.
4. Shop online. Why rush into stores with mad throngs of people and place yourself in harms way when you don’t have to? Unless the price is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay less than any store online, you’re better off staying at home in your skimpies picking out gifts and getting that free holiday shipping with wrapping and “from” cards already attached (sometimes for free or sometimes for a small fee)! You can search in Google for a particular item, especially if you want to check prices multiple stores, or you can check the mega stores like Amazon.com for your gifts.
5. Comparison shop! Don’t buy something the minute you see it – there is probably a better price somewhere else. Prices are dropping every day, but make sure you order by the deadline marked on the website if you want it there in a certain amount of time. Last year, I found myself at Walmart fifteen minutes before they closed on Christmas Eve – and nothing that I needed anywhere in sight.
6. Get someone else to wrap your gifts. I’m always bad at wrapping gifts, so if anyone else will do it when I order something online or purchase at the store, I’m extra happy. When you shop online, use Good Search to make sure that a portion of what you spend will automatically go to the organization that you choose that needs money to do good for other people.
7. Give the holidays a crafty feel. No need to buy decorations or ornaments for the holidays to hang around your house. Take a cue from your favorite first grader and make something! Craft items are pretty inexpensive and you can make everything from Christmas ornaments to little angel figurines to put on the mantel. Or if you don’t have a tree or a mantel (like me), make little cut out figures and hang them on the walls. Take pictures that remind you of the season, such as kids making a snowman, and hang them around for everyone to see. Just a tip – when you think it’s enough glitter, let it be!
8. Football time! Yes there still are way too many bowl games in college football. But check the schedule and get out the snacks! A good bowl game can be a great way to just relax and catch up with friends or family you never see. You can buy themed party wares like football shaped finger food trays and dip bowls and everyone will have a surprise when you finish the tray! Pick finger foods or treats that are easy to prepare and are healthy, such as carrots, celery sticks, raisins, peanuts. We all have the opportunity to be more sedentary around the holidays so every little bit counts. You can even make it fun for kids!
As a healthcare professional, you know I couldn’t let you get out of here without a few tips to stay healthy during the holidays. So, borrowing from the 12 Ways to Health from the CDC, here we go:
9. Wash your hands often. This is a big germ sharing time because people tend to get together in big groups (and small groups) more often than normal. Hand sanitizer is cool, but hand washing is even better. Sing “Happy Birthday” or the “ABCs” and that’s the proper length of time. Carry some lotion with you to put on to keep your skin healthy and moisturized.
10. Stay warm! We spend so much time outside in the winter that it can be difficult to get warm and stay warm. Especially if you’ll be out a while dress in plenty of layers. If you feel yourself sweating, try to adjust your layers to prevent chills. If you happen to light a fire to stay warm, make sure it is completely cold before you leave it. It only takes a small ember to start a big fire. Read more about how to prep for cold weather at: Commuting by Bike in the Winter.
11. Travel safely. With so many people on the road (ah the crazies!) this is a time for more traffic accidents. Travel the speed limit and if you’re tired, pull over and rest. It’s better to take a couple extra hours than to not get there safely. Check your tire pressure and fluid levels in your vehicle before hitting the road. If you get a rental, make sure you keep the paperwork they give you so you have an emergency number to call just in case. And remember, no drinking and driving!
12. Handle and prepare food safely! Use different knives for meat than you use for other things. Wash your hands between messing with different dishes, especially if they have meat or eggs. Clean up blood that has been spilled and don’t let foods like potato salad sit out for hours and hours. Read more food preparation tips at How to Protect Yourself from Salmonella.
13. Prevent injuries. Do not pull a Griswold and fall off the ladder while putting up lights! Use step stools that are rated at or below your weight and have someone hold ladders if you need them. Don’t leave cooking devices or kids unattended – you never know what’ll happen.
Enjoy your holiday!
HarriMac enjoys a well lived life with a large serving of soul.