You know those days when you wake up in the morning and mentally go through your day, only to suddenly remember the birthday party you’re meant to be at in two hours, so you stumble bleary-eyed over to the gift cupboard and realise that you now only have gifts left for babies, blessingways and older kids, so you log in to your online banking really hoping your client has paid you, but alas, she hasn’t… so you have less than two hours to come up with a present. What do you do? I’ve mentioned before what I do – I go to Twinkl, so that’s precisely what I did today.
With Thanksgiving just passed you’re likely feeling relaxed and happy that all the stress is over with. Believe me, I’ve been there. But this is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the chaos of the past few weeks and unlock the secrets of a convenient holiday for next year. Peruse this list, and see just how easy Thanksgiving can be.
- Shop Early
One of the worst parts of preparing for a holiday like Thanksgiving is braving the crowds at the local grocery store. Unfortunately, it’s an unavoidable task for any of the fresh foods required for your dishes. You can make it easier on yourself by dividing and conquering. In the days or weeks before, head to the store and load up on all of the non-perishables that will stay fresh until your festivities commence. Make two lists: the things you can buy now, and the things you’ll need the day before. With the first list in hand, head to your grocery store and load up. When the fresh ingredients become necessary, you’ll have a much smaller second list to attend to which means less time spent in the store.
- Make Décor Easy
Creating DIY centerpieces for your holiday occasions can be so much fun, but not when you’re on a time crunch. If you’re stressing about how to decorate your home before all those Thanksgiving guests arrive, don’t worry! Order a seasonal arrangement from a flower company and put it on your table for a one-step centerpiece. You can also use leftovers from your most recent holiday. If you have any uncarved pumpkins sitting around that haven’t started to slump, core them out and throw some lush Thanksgiving greenery and flowers in the center for your very own do it yourself bouquet.
- Turkey Takeover
Turkey is a mainstay of the Thanksgiving meal, but these huge birds can take up all the space in your oven—meaning no room for the other sides you were hoping to make. Consider different ways of cooking your bird. Whether it’s the crockpot or a deep fryer, trying alternative spins on this Thanksgiving fowl will give your feast a whole new taste and vibe next year. If you’d still like to cook your large turkey in the oven, consider slow roasting it overnight. You can throw it in the oven at 11 pm, and come morning, the low temperature cooking technique will have you a golden brown bird ready for the day’s feast—and an empty oven ready for that green bean casserole or Grandma’s famous fresh baked rolls.
- Dessert With No Effort
Do something a little bit different than just the normal pumpkin pie for the holiday season. Add a dessert table filled with the perfect finger foods to make your Thanksgiving festivities the most delicious your family has ever experienced. Whether you offer chocolate covered strawberries, cupcakes, cake pops, or delicious melt in your mouth cookies, the kids and adults alike will easily be found hovering around your dessert table.
- Avoid the Bloat
Holidays are rife with fantastic foods, but that can mean terrible things for our health—and our waistlines. Do what you can to avoid binging and feeling awful by snacking on healthy items throughout the day, offering healthy choices on your Thanksgiving table, and saying no to seconds. The effort now will be worth it later, especially when you are ready to start your New Year in a healthy way.
- Cooking in Advance
Limited kitchen space makes cooking all of your main entrees, sides, and desserts in one go an impossible task. Do what you can to plan ahead, and prepare any items that you can during the day before Thanksgiving. Baked goodies, certain vegetables, and meats like bacon can all be prepared 24 hours ahead of time—sometimes even longer than that—meaning you can focus on the big items the day of. Examine the different cooking temperatures you’ll need for your oven and plan to cook items that can go in at the same time.
- Separate Drink Bar
Set up a specific area and table for all of your guests’ drink needs. Whether it’s alcohol or punch, place the libations of choice in this area to ensure your kitchen is free of unnecessary bodies (making it easier for you to get done all that you need to without distraction or interruption). Lay out plastic cups, utensils, straws, and a full ice chest to ensure guests can grab what they want when they need it without having to ask.
My children never owned a cot. In fact, I wanted to buy Ameli a gorgeous sleigh cot at great expense, but from an hour after her birth, Ameli (and later Aviya) slept in my bed with me, so a cot never became a necessity, and I’m glad in retrospect that we never bought one ready for her arrival. As such, I’ve never paid much attention to the repurposed cots and cribs on Pinterest, but recently I was looking for a piece of outdoor-primed wood to turn into an outdoor chalkboard.
I was collecting a wooden pallet for the garden when I noticed the owner of the pallet had an dismantled cot lying by their skip. I had a lightbulb moment about our outdoor chalkboard, and asked if I could perhaps have it.
So, now we are proud owners of someone else’s discarded crib, and I can’t wait to put it to good use. I bought chalkboard paint some time ago, so all I had to do was the DIY – something I’m not normally great at. I’m the queen of Pinterest Fails. None the less, I set out to create our own chalkboard.
How To Make An Outdoor Chalkboard
I used masking tape along the outsides of the crib head board to create a frame, although I don’t suppose this was necessary, really. I could just as easily have left it and painted the whole thing, but I wanted the frame. Next I took one of the children’s thicker paint brushes, and painted the paint onto the board.
It was quite streaky, which concerned me, but it dried perfectly smoothly within half an hour.
After testing it and seeing the chalk created a few ‘scratches’ as it wrote, I decided to paint a second layer.
Once that had dried, I pulled off the masking tape – pull away from the direction of the paint, so that if it does create any ‘chips’ it doesn’t pull the ends of the paint off, negating having created a border in the first place. If it does, just touch those up.
Being a cot, it already had holes drilled into it for the sides to slot into, so I just threaded some string through those to tie it to the fence.
And there we have a lovely DIY outdoor chalkboard for the children… and I’m quite pleased with myself!
I’ve been working on a Sensory Tent for Ameli – somewhere for her to be calm and relaxed. Kind of like a chill out room. It’s just in the living room, since we don’t have space to make a whole room for her, though I wish we could.
One of the items in the tent is a sensory light. Well, that’s what I call it, anyway. It’s a light and it’s pretty and its something to look at. Read more: How To: Make a Sensory Light