Keep the Holiday Cooking Blahs at Bay

by on February 24th, 2011
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Not quite feeling up to the holiday season this year? Is everyone expecting you to take the lead on all things holiday anyway? So you try, only get frustrated. It’s not quite the holiday blues or bah humbugs, it’s more like a subtle case of the holiday blahs. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Sometimes it’s hard to get into the swing of things when the ‘swing’ means keeping you in a hot kitchen, on your feet, or spending more time and money than you’d like on food. The people eating your food may not even be showing a ton of appreciation for it! Every cook has a down year over the holidays. Here are few tips to help you get over the holiday blahs.

Figure out what’s bugging you. Most of the time when I can’t quite get into the mood to do my holiday cooking and planning it’s because my mind is somewhere else, on another task or deadline, or I’m just burned out. Very often, I just went through several weeks of concentrating on other people and I need to think about myself for a while. Sometimes it’s because I have other things going on in my life, like an approaching book deadline, that’s keeping me from focusing. This last is usually when things start burning.

Pin point what’s going on in your life that’s distracting you from fully enjoying the season so you can start dealing with it. If you’re feeling neglected spend some time doing something that’s just for you. The kitchen can really take a lot of energy out of you, so go ahead and recharge your physical and mental batteries. Don’t feel bad about it, just do it. If your time is conflicted try to work out a schedule. If you find you can’t make everything you need to do fit then it’s time to call for help.

Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of others. Teenagers, parents, neighbors, and friends are great for this. Younger children can also help, but be careful not to give them tasks they can’t handle or you’ll find yourself even more frustrated when you have to spend time walking them through it.

Get organized! I like to help get myself in the mood for the holiday cooking season by cleaning and organizing my kitchen and pantry, top to bottom. Holiday cooking has it’s own unique needs that normal daily cooking doesn’t. Creating workspaces dedicated to making cookies, pies, and other confections will help make it easier to do what you have to do without feeling overwhelmed. Set out your 5 most used ingredients in containers that can stay on the work surface, and arrange your counters and pantry spaces to accommodate the special cooking needs of the holidays.

Wash dishes as you go so you don’t end up being overwhelmed by stacks of dirty mixing bowls, beaters, and piping bags. Get a volunteer to do the final clean up if you can. Or, have someone else do the washing on the go and you be the one to clean up the last little bits to make sure everything was put back where you want it.

Make sure to get out of the kitchen periodically and let someone else cook for you. Even if all you do is stop in a local pub or bakery take the time to eat there. Enjoy being out and having someone else wait on you for a change. You don’t want those holiday blahs turning into full blown holiday blues, and allowing yourself a touch of pampering can brighten your mood considerably.

End every day with a few minutes for yourself. It’s your kitchen, and you were the one doing all that cooking, baking, cutting, and frosting. You deserve to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Curl up with a good book or in front of favorite TV show with a freshly baked cookie, square of fudge, or just a glass of wine. You earned it.

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