(Family Features) - The holidays don't bring "visions of sugarplums" for everyone; for some they prompt visions of huge crowds, frenzied shopping, endless parties and the stress of planning for this busy season - leaving no time to sit back, relax and enjoy the holidays.
Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. Joan Hanson, test kitchen director for Hormel Foods, shares these tips to help you stay grounded this holiday season.
Plan Ahead. Shop early, so there's more time to enjoy the season with your family and friends. If you do delay, avoid crowds by shopping online and using express delivery services.
Tradition! Schedule festive family activities, such as making holiday cookies. Whether you're using an old family recipe or pre-made cookie batter, this a great activity for the kids to use their creativity.
Delegate. Don't over-do it. Make a list of what must get done and keep expectations realistic about everything else. Ask for help and assign tasks to other family members.
Hurry-Up Meals. For easy, on-the-go meals during the holidays, spend a day filling your freezer with easy-to-prepare foods. Make a list of the foods your family enjoys and see which ones can be frozen ahead of time. Divide them down into small servings for easy re-heats.
Natural Decorations. Take the kids out and pick up tree or shrub branches, leaves and pinecones. Arrange them on cake stands, in baskets or bowls. Scatter inexpensive votive candles on mantels, windowsills and tables. Use candles of assorted shapes, sizes and heights for table displays.
Hanson also suggests taking advantage of versatile recipes that are easy to make and take the hassle out of planning meals around the holidays. For example, preparing slow-cooked pulled pork ahead of time sets you up to enjoy several different variations of the dish, such as the ones listed below.
Visit HormelFoodsRecipes.com for more recipe ideas.