By Chef Lauren Cox, Closer to Your Food

The holidays are almost here, coupled with the stress and anxiety that can go with them. Now that your Halloween decorations are packed away and the weather is changing, the countdown to the remaining holidays has begun. This time of year many thoughts usually flood my mind:

“Uh oh! My toddler ate so much candy, now he’s going to want to eat nothing but sugar!”

“I have to cook Thanksgiving dinner for HOW many people?”

“Oh no, the family is getting together and there will be alcoholic beverages.”

“How am I going to afford buying Christmas presents for everybody?”

Sometimes the holidays are just overwhelming, for many reasons. Here’s the kicker – we create the stress. After years of panic over the holidays and trying to put together the perfect event, I’ve realized that it’s not worth the stress. From a working mom’s perspective, here are a few strategies that I’ve used to tackle the holidays that I hope may be useful to you.

Food for All

Let’s face the facts, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners are often massive dinners for a large number of people. When you’re faced with the task of hosting for a holiday, here’s my biggest tip – DELEGATE.

Trust me, your guests will be more than happy to take on responsibilities, making Thanksgiving potluck-style and saving your sanity. Put your auntie who makes fabulous pies in charge of bringing dessert and ask your dad to bring those great potatoes. This way you can focus on one or two things (like the bird and stuffing), and do them really well.

Deck the Halls

Decorate ahead of time. I know you may be obsessed with having the perfect tablescape that you saw on Pinterest, but in reality, just do what works for you. Stop by a craft store and snatch up some dried corn and fall garlands, or a few Christmas/Hanukkah sparkly things. Sprinkle them down your table the day before your event, set the plates and silverware, and you’re done!

Worried about your home looking clean for the holidays? Maybe we don’t want to say it out loud, but many of us freak out at the mere thought of our mother-in-law inspecting the dust on our shelves or the dirty floor from our pets and/or kids.

One solution? Hire a cleaning service! This is one of the few times out of the year that it is worth the investment because it takes the stress of cleaning out of your hands. Prefer to tackle the cleaning yourself? Plan ahead by breaking up the cleaning into phases (a room-a-day is a good gauge). The peace of mind a clean home brings is priceless.

Leave the Big Belly for Santa

Holiday over-eating is an issue. Instinctively, when the days are shorter and the weather gets cooler, our brains tell us to eat more. Talk to your healthcare practitioner about checking your hormonal balance early in the fall to avoid the cortisol crashes and ask about supportive supplements such as chromium or other products that help keep you full and your appetite at bay. During this time of year I ensure to have plenty of fiber, B vitamins, and some caffeine from green tea to help me keep my appetite in check.

Let the Ball Drop, Along With the Poor Choices

At the end of the holiday season comes the New Year. Remember to be good to yourself. Don’t allow the holidays to punish your body, or give you an excuse to give in to every craving.  Instead, think about the holidays as an opportunity to set yourself up for an exciting beginning to 2017.

Mindfully commit to making good food and positive lifestyle choices this season, but remember to keep everything in balance. If you pigged out on pumpkin pie, take an extra-long walk in the cool fall air the next morning, or hit your regular workout routine a little harder.

My final holiday tip is to be mindful of “being in the moment.” Have you ever gotten through a big event and the next day said to yourself, “where did the day go?” It’s because in the midst of cooking, cleaning and checking our phone updates, sometimes we forget to be present in the moment. Take the time to sit, relax and reflect on what you’re grateful for this season and you’ll have memories to enjoy for years to come.


Closer to Your Food is a wellness blog focused on eating and cooking for health and sustainability with recipes and lifestyle tips formulated around a plant-based diet and home-grown local foods. Chef Lauren Cox holds a B.A. from the le Cordon Bleu in Culinary Management with over 8 years of fine dining experience in private dining, catering and Michelan star restaurants. 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.