Unlocking the Magic of a Stress-Free Christmas Dinner

As the holiday season approaches, many people begin to feel overwhelmed and stressed with the thought of hosting a Christmas dinner. The idea of preparing a large meal for family and friends can be daunting, but fear not! 

With a bit of planning and some helpful tips, you can create a stress-free Christmas dinner that is sure to impress your guests.

Preparing Ahead of Time


One of the most important things you can do to ensure a stress-free Christmas dinner is to prepare ahead of time. 

The key is to start planning early, even if it’s just writing down some ideas for dishes you’d like to make. Menu planning is crucial for the success of your dinner. 

Think about how many people you will be serving and what their dietary restrictions or preferences may be. To save time and reduce stress, make sure to choose quick recipes that won’t require hours in the kitchen. 

Look for easy recipes that still provide delicious meals, such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, and homemade cranberry sauce. To add festive ideas to your meal plan, consider incorporating some new dishes into your traditional menu or adding festive decorations to your table. 

Another great stress-busting tip is to opt for make-ahead dishes that can be prepared a day or two before your dinner. This way, you don’t have to worry about last-minute changes or unexpected guests. 

Make-ahead dishes like casseroles or salads are perfect because they can simply be reheated on the day of the dinner. Once you have your menu planned out and any make-ahead dishes ready to go, create a planning timeline leading up to the big day. 

This should include tasks such as grocery shopping, preparing ingredients and cooking different items in advance so that everything comes together seamlessly on Christmas Day. By preparing ahead of time and following these simple tips for menu planning and time-saving techniques, you’ll be sure to create a relaxed atmosphere where everyone can enjoy a stress-free Christmas dinner together! 

Simplifying the Menu


When planning your next meal, why not stick to your family’s and guests’ favorite dishes? By using tried and true recipes, you’ll avoid unnecessary stress and guarantee that everyone will love what’s on the table.


And don’t be afraid to incorporate store-bought options into your menu. A can of green beans seasoned with your favorite season and herbs will go a long way. Whether it’s pre-made appetizers, ready-to-eat desserts, or even pre-packaged dinner rolls, finding the right balance between homemade and convenience can make your life a lot easier. So go ahead and take advantage of what’s available to you – your guests will thank you for it!


If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the options out there, consider narrowing down your choices based on theme or cuisine. For example, you could focus on traditional Christmas fare like ham or turkey with classic sides like mashed potatoes and green beans. 


Alternatively, you could choose a specific cuisine like Italian or Mexican and center your menu around those flavors. 


Don’t be afraid to make last-minute changes if something isn’t working out as planned. Whether it’s swapping out a recipe that’s too complicated for something simpler or adjusting portion sizes based on how many guests are coming, being flexible with your plan will help keep things relaxed and stress-free. 


By simplifying your menu with these tips and strategies, you’ll be well on your way to hosting a stress-free Christmas dinner that everyone will love!

Time-Saving Cooking Techniques


To reduce the stress of preparing a Christmas dinner, incorporating time-saving cooking techniques can be a game-changer. Here are some strategies to help you save time in the kitchen:

Utilize Slow Cookers or Instant Pots

Slow cookers and Instant Pots are fantastic tools for hands-off cooking. You can prepare dishes like roasts, stews, or even side dishes in advance and let them cook slowly while you focus on other tasks. These appliances are excellent for tenderizing meats and infusing flavors, all while requiring minimal effort.


Opt for One-Pot or Sheet Pan Meals

One-pot or sheet pan meals are a fantastic way to streamline your cooking process and minimize cleanup. By combining ingredients and cooking them together, you can save time on both preparation and washing dishes. Consider dishes like roasted chicken with vegetables or a flavorful pasta dish that can be cooked in a single pot or on a single sheet pan.


Prepare Make-Ahead Casseroles or Freezer-Friendly Dishes

Make-ahead casseroles and freezer-friendly dishes can be a lifesaver during the busy holiday season. You can assemble casseroles, such as lasagna or baked pasta, a day or two in advance and refrigerate them until it’s time to bake. Additionally, dishes like meatballs, stuffed mushrooms, or appetizers can be prepared in advance and frozen. Simply thaw and cook them when needed.


Use Pre-Cut Vegetables or Pre-Marinated Meats

Take advantage of pre-cut vegetables and pre-marinated meats available at grocery stores. This can significantly cut down your prep time, allowing you to focus on other essential tasks. Pre-cut vegetables can be used in salads, stir-fries, or roasted dishes, while pre-marinated meats can be quickly cooked, saving you time on seasoning and marinating.


By implementing these time-saving cooking techniques, you can streamline your Christmas dinner preparation, reduce stress, and have more time to enjoy the festivities with your loved ones. Remember, efficiency in the kitchen doesn’t mean compromising on taste or qualityrather, it’s about finding smart ways to simplify the cooking process.

Setting the Perfect Table


The way you set your table can influence how your guests perceive the meal. A well-set table can make a good impression and create a relaxed atmosphere. 

Begin by considering your guest count, then choose an appropriate table size and shape. Next, select table linens that are easy to care for and match the theme of your dinner party. 

Festive patterns or colors can be a great addition to any holiday meal. A common mistake people make is overcrowding their table with too many accessories, such as centerpieces, floral arrangements, candles, or name tags. 

When it comes to tabletop decor, less is more. Space out the items on your table so that they don’t feel cluttered and overwhelming. 

Make sure that each guest has enough elbow room by leaving space between them. The placement of dinnerware is another important aspect of setting a perfect holiday table. 

Each place should include a charger or placemat, dinner plate, salad plate if applicable, silverware (forks on the left side and knives on the right), glassware (water glass to the right of the plate), and napkins (either folded under utensils or possibly placed in glasses). If you’re planning a formal dinner party with multiple courses, you may need to add additional plates or forks. 

Consider incorporating festive decorations into your tablescape without going overboard – perhaps small touches like pinecones or sprigs of holly tucked into napkin rings could work well. Remember that no matter how lovely your settings may look – ultimately, it’s about creating an enjoyable experience for everyone involved! 

Managing Guests and Dietary Restrictions

It’s not uncommon for guests to have dietary restrictions, especially during the holiday season. 

While it can be stressful to accommodate everyone’s needs, it’s important to make sure that all of your guests feel included and welcome at your Christmas dinner. One way to manage dietary restrictions is to ask your guests ahead of time if they have any allergies or food preferences. 

This will give you time to plan your menu accordingly. If you’re not sure what to serve, there are plenty of resources online with quick and easy recipes that cater to various dietary needs. 

Another great way to make sure everyone feels included is by offering a variety of dishes that everyone can enjoy. For example, if one guest is vegan, consider serving a vegetable lasagna or a hearty lentil stew alongside the traditional turkey or ham. 

If you’re worried about last-minute changes or unexpected dietary restrictions cropping up, try keeping some simple ingredients on hand so you can quickly whip up something delicious on the fly. Things like rice noodles, canned beans, and frozen veggies can be cooked in no time flat and added to soups, stews, or salads for an easy vegetarian or vegan option. 

Don’t forget about presentation! Even simple dishes can look festive with the right garnishes and decorations. 

Consider adding some colorful vegetables like roasted carrots or Brussels sprouts as a side dish, or create a beautiful fruit platter for dessert. Whatever you decide to serve at your Christmas dinner party this year, remember that managing guest’s dietary restrictions doesn’t have to be overwhelming – just focus on creating a relaxed atmosphere where everyone feels welcome! 

Stress-Busting Tips

Planning and hosting a Christmas dinner can be overwhelming, but with the right strategies, you can keep stress at bay and enjoy a more relaxed holiday celebration. Here are some stress-busting tips to help you through the process:


Take Breaks and Prioritize Self-Care

Amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, it’s crucial to take breaks and prioritize self-care. Allow yourself moments of relaxation, whether it’s enjoying a cup of tea, going for a walk, or taking a few deep breaths. Taking care of your own well-being will help you stay calm and focused.


Engage Guests in Activities or Games

Get your guests involved and create a joyful and interactive atmosphere. Plan fun activities or games that everyone can participate in. This not only lightens the mood but also takes some pressure off you as the host. Consider activities like Christmas trivia, charades, or even a DIY ornament-making station.


Prepare a Festive Playlist for Background Music

Create a playlist of your favorite holiday tunes to set a festive ambiance. Music has a way of reducing stress and uplifting spirits. Choose a mix of cheerful, relaxing, and nostalgic songs to create the perfect backdrop for your Christmas dinner.


Have a Backup Plan in Case of Unforeseen Circumstances

Despite meticulous planning, things may not always go as expected. It’s essential to have a backup plan in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as a burnt dish or unexpected changes in guest count. Stay adaptable and be prepared to make adjustments on the fly. Remember, the most important part of Christmas dinner is spending quality time with loved ones, so don’t let unexpected hiccups ruin the overall experience.


By implementing these stress-busting tips, you can create a more relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere during your Christmas dinner. Remember, the holiday season is meant to be cherished and celebrated, so embrace the joy and laughter that comes with gathering around the table with loved ones.

Cleaning and Organization


After a delicious Christmas dinner, it’s time to face the aftermath. It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed after hosting a big holiday meal, but with some simple cleaning and organization tips, you can make this task much more manageable. First and foremost, start by clearing the table and packing away leftovers. 

Rather than leaving everything scattered around the kitchen counters overnight, try packing food into containers and storing them in the fridge. This will prevent any spoilage or contamination and make it easier to clean up in the morning. 

Next up is tackling the dishes. If you don’t have a dishwasher, this can be an extremely daunting task. 

But don’t fret  there are some painless ways to make washing up less of a chore. Get your family members or friends involved by assigning everyone their own role  someone can wash dishes while another dries them off and puts them away. 

You could even put on some of your favourite music or a festive movie to create a relaxed atmosphere as you work. Once all the dishes are done, focus on wiping down surfaces and cleaning up any spills. 

It’s important to do this as soon as possible so that nothing has time to stick or dry out  trust me! Use disinfectant wipes for quick clean-ups on counters and stovetops; they’re easy-to-use and effective in killing germs. 

Think about organization when putting away your dishes and utensils back into their respective drawers/cabinets since it will save you time later when you’re setting up for next Christmas dinner party. To prevent clutter from building up over time try decluttering your kitchen regularly throughout the year. 

Cleaning up after hosting Christmas dinner doesn’t have to be stressful if you approach it thoughtfully with organization in mind. With these tips on hand (and help from family members or friends), tidying up your home after hosting will be easier than ever before! 


After all, the most important aspect of Christmas is spending time with loved ones. 

By following these tips and tricks, you can reduce your stress levels and enjoy your family’s company without worrying about the meal. Utilizing make-ahead dishes and simplifying the menu can save you a lot of time and effort on the day of your Christmas dinner. 

Planning ahead with a timeline can ensure that everything runs smoothly, even if there are last-minute changes or unexpected guests. Quick and easy recipes can also make cooking more manageable without sacrificing taste or presentation. 

Remember to create a relaxed atmosphere with festive decorations and music to set the mood for an enjoyable evening with family and friends. If you have guests with dietary restrictions, be sure to communicate with them beforehand to accommodate their needs. 

Above all, don’t forget to enjoy yourself! The holidays are meant to be fun and festive, so take some time for yourself too. 

With these stress-busting tips in mind, you’re well on your way to having a delicious Christmas dinner without feeling overwhelmed or frazzled. Happy holidays! 

13 Unique Ideas for Father’s Day

With it being my husband’s first Father’s Day with the little man outside the womb, I would like to do something nice. But what? I have no clue. Well, I had some ideas, but the timing is wrong. My husband loves sports, so I had this grand idea to get him some courtside (or as close as I can) tickets to the Atlanta Hawks, but currently, the playoffs are happening, so by the time Father’s Day roll around, basketball will be over with. We’re going to a Braves game this weekend, and football season wouldn’t have begun yet.

He mentioned that he would like to rest, which I completely agree with because I said the same thing for Mother’s Day, hence why I am getting a weekend getaway for Mother’s Day. So, if I do get him a hotel, I want it to be somewhere where there are a lot of things to do and good food. My husband is a foodie and loves to go someplace where he can eat good food and watch a game.

So while I figure out my dilemma and how to make his first Father’s Day a great one, I want to share some ideas that you could implement for the fathers in your life.

Make him a custom jingle. Can you imagine your father having his own song? Something he can replay to remind him how much he is loved. I’m sure he will wear it out on Father’s Day. Well, it’s possible to have one made for him, and it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to have it made. You can hire a freelancer on Fiverr.com to make one for you. Just find the right freelancer for your needs and within your price range, and voila! Make sure you don’t want too long to have it made, as delivery times can vary, and you want to ensure that it’s made in time for your dad’s big day. Click here to be taken to jingle gigs on Fiverr.com.


Get him a gift that celebrates his hobbies. If your dad loves to fish, get him a new fishing rod or a tackle box. Or, if he’s into woodworking, get him a new toolset. Acknowledge that thing he loves to let him know that you pay attention.

Put together a Father’s Day photo album. Gather up all the old photos of you and your dad and put them together in a special album. Add some Father’s Day quotes or poems to make it extra special. This is such a keepsake.

Make him a Father’s Day breakfast in bed. Whip up his favorite breakfast foods and serve them to him in bed. Top it off with a mug of coffee or tea, and you’re good to go! But I wouldn’t stop there. Make it an all-day thing. Fix his lunch and/or dinner and serve it to him while he watches his favorite shows uninterrupted.

Get him a gift card to his favorite restaurant. This way, he can treat himself to a nice Father’s Day dinner without worrying about cooking or cleaning up. This gives him an opportunity to get out of the house and off the couch.

Give him the day off! Let dad relax and take it easy for Father’s Day. Take on all his responsibilities for the day so he can just kick back and relax.

Plan a Father’s Day outing. Take Dad to see his favorite baseball team play or go hiking in the woods. Whatever he enjoys, make it happen on Father’s Day. Make sure you plan in advance and do your research. If his outing is hiking and it’s a rainy day, make sure you have a contingency plan.

Make a homemade Father’s Day card. Depending on how old the kids are, get the kids involved and make a special Father’s Day card from all of you. Add your own personal Father’s Day message inside.

Give him a coupon book. Fill it with coupons for things like “good for one free car wash” or “redeemable for one evening of Netflix and chill.” Get creative and have fun with it!

Get him a subscription to his favorite streaming networks such as ESPN, Prime Video, Disney, HBO Max, Netflix, and more. This way, he can stay up to date on all his favorite hobbies and interests.

Can’t decide on just one thing? Give him a gift basket full of his favorite things. Fill a basket with items like his favorite snacks, a new book, or a gift card to his favorite store.

Get him tickets to a concert or show. He can enjoy some live entertainment and have a great Father’s Day all at the same time.

Make a Father’s Day video. Get the family together and make a fun Father’s Day video. You can include photos and videos from throughout the years or even put together a montage of all his favorite things.

Father’s Day is a special day to celebrate the fathers in our lives. They work hard all year long and deserve to be celebrated. These 13 unique Father’s Day ideas are sure to make your dad feel loved and appreciated.

Whatever you do, make sure you let your dad know how much you love and appreciate him this Father’s Day! He deserves it. So get started planning and have a great Father’s Day!

Best Books to Read to Babies

As an expecting mom, at 28 weeks pregnant, I find myself wanting to put a kid’s library full of baby books in my son’s room. I imagine myself reading bedtime stories to him and to entertain him when he’s wanting all my attention.  And as an author, I value the lessons that baby books can teach our little ones and how books can expand their mind.

Investing time reading to your child has extremely important and exciting benefits. Hearing books read aloud teaches a child to love language and makes learning to speak and read much more natural and enjoyable. Stories read aloud also foster imagination, understanding, and good listening.

You can start to build a reading habit with your child right away, helping to establish it as something to look forward to. You might try decorating a designated reading nook, setting aside a special time of day for reading, and making trips to the library so your child can see the beautiful variety of books there. Children also love to imitate, so reading in front of your child is likely to inspire your child to ask for books and read-aloud time. The time invested building this habit is well worth it for your child’s own growth, as well as your own relationship as you share this sweet routine.

Top 10 Books To Read

If you are looking for a great place to start, here is a list of ten children’s books to read aloud that caught my interest. These baby books will also make great gifts for expecting moms.

1. Kindness Makes Us Strong by Sophie Beer

With beautiful, happy artwork to captivate your child, this book portrays children offering kindness to others in all sorts of ways. Your child can learn to celebrate sharing by seeing other children celebrate and enjoy it. The book’s inspirational subject matter and rhythmic texts make it a must-have in your reading nook!

2. I Give You the World by Stacey McCleary

This softly illustrated book makes a wonderfully slow and soothing bedtime story. It gently introduces your child to the wonders of the world, encouraging a love of nature in all of its beautiful seasons.

3. Grandma Prays for You by Jean Fisher

This story of a grandma bear praying for her grandchildren reminds children how loved and cared for they are by relatives near and far. The book describes lovely everyday moments and the prayers that touched them, making it additionally a great way to expand your child’s vocabulary for describing ordinary activities.

4. Once Upon a Potty by Alona Frankel

There really is a book for every occasion of your child’s life–including learning to use the potty. Read this one leading up to and during your child’s potty training to make it both fun and simple to understand. It is even helpful to read it while your child is on the potty! The book even comes in boy and girl versions so that each child can recognize their anatomy and the process each is going through.

5. First 100 Numbers by Roger Priddy

This book is fantastic for your little one because it can be so interactive. The numbers are all written out in words so that to practice reading them. There are also brightly colored photographs of the numbered objects to point out, name, and count together.

6. Farmblock by Christopher Franceschelli

Franceschelli’s book will introduce your child to life on a farm throughout the seasons. It displays lots of animals and farm activities. Read about making jam for the farmer’s market so that your little one’s imagination is inspired for the next time you shop there! One really fun feature of this book is how interactive the pages are with gate folds and cut outs.

7. Baby Loves: A First Book of Favorites by Abrams Appleseed

Your little one will be excited to find photographs of many everyday loved objects in this book. It is also a great interactive read that asks you to find each object on a page of similar objects. Your child can practice picking out a banana from a page of other fruits!

8. Sing-Along Songs by Roger Priddy

This is a book of illustrated classic children’s songs. It comes with a CD to guide and liven up your family musical exertions. Your child can follow along with the embossed illustrations during songs like “The Wheels on the Bus”, learning to understand what the songs mean, as well as learning to sing along!

9. Who? A Celebration of Babies by Robie Harris

In a very simple, rhythmic way, this book encourages your child to think about and name the many important people in a child’s life. Your child will see mamas and dadas of other babies, learning to expand the concepts beyond your home.

10. God is Great, God is Good by Sanna Baker

This book gives your child a unique introduction to texts and concepts found in the book of Job that are not often depicted for children. Because it is presented in the poetic question form of the book of Job, your child gets to interact in a beautiful and simple way with big ideas about God and creation. This one is sure to captivate!

I hope you like the selections of baby books I’ve found. Feel free to purchase any of the books you like by clicking the title. Share with other moms that may be looking for some good reads for their little ones.


Ashley M. King