The holiday season is a time for joy, love and cheer—for enjoying the company of our loved ones at festive feasts and get-togethers. Unfortunately, Thanksgiving and Christmas also come with their fair share of stress, chaos and barely-avoided disasters. This is our guide to creative solutions for some of the most common holiday problems.
Image via RoughGuide
Holiday Travel Troubles
When traveling via airplane during the holiday season, there’s a chance you could run into severe winter weather. Snowstorms can mean delayed or even canceled flights depending on which part of the country you’re in, so it’s important to have a backup plan in the event of a storm. Your travel plans could also be hindered by the Christmastime hustle and bustle at airports. Here’s how to avoid common holiday travel problems:
- Flight Delays & Cancellations: When you check in for your flight the night before, make sure you include a phone number and/or email address, so the airline can get a hold of you in case of a delay or cancellation. Finding out about a flight issue as early as possible can save you time and allow you to make appropriate arrangements for your holiday trip.
- Cutting it Close: Make sure to give yourself extra time to encounter potential problems and holiday chaos at the airport. As a general rule, if you’re traveling within the country, plan to arrive about an hour and fifteen minutes prior to your flight’s scheduled boarding time. If you’re an international traveler, give yourself a buffer of at least two hours.
- Long Lines: If your airport offers a TSA PreCheck program or something similar, you can pay a yearly fee to skip those endless security lines. This is especially helpful if you’re departing from a large, popular airport or if your flight is scheduled at a busy time. Getting through security quickly can help you avoid spending hours waiting around, so you can focus on boarding on time.
Chaos in the Kitchen
Cooking problems are all too common during the holiday season. From turkeys that just won’t thaw to a too-small oven, the potential disasters that could happen during the Thanksgiving or Christmas feast preparations are practically endless. Here are a few of the most likely issues and how to solve them:
Image via Worth The Whisk
- Cold Turkey: It’s time to get the turkey going in the oven, but it’s still not fully defrosted. Don’t worry. The safest, fastest way to thaw a frozen turkey evenly is by keeping it submerged in cold water, allowing about 30 minutes of thawing time per pound of turkey. If you don’t have enough time for this, you can still cook a partially frozen turkey (though it’s not ideal). Bake it around 325 degrees F until its internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees F.
- Overworked Oven: If you have a small oven and a plentiful feast to make, don’t despair. At least a week prior to the holiday, plan out everything that needs to be roasted, baked or broiled. In the two days before the feast, cook anything that can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. Figure out what dishes are cooked at the same temperature, so you can double-up in the oven to save time.
- Pie Problems: If your pie crumbles or the crust is too dry to hold together, get creative. Spoon the pie into wide-rimmed wine glasses and layer with toppings like whipped cream, raspberry sauce or chocolate shavings. Keep refrigerated until dessert time. If your pie or cheesecake has a cracked or unsightly top, dress it up with powdered sugar, a layer of fruit slices or whipped cream.
Shopping for the perfect gifts for your family members and friends is perhaps the most stressful part of the holiday season. But it doesn’t have to be. The following are a few common gift-giving problems you might face this year—along with some tips on how to solve them.
- Tightening the Belt: If your budget is tight this year and you’re worried about all the gifts you have to buy, consider organizing a “Secret Santa” gift exchange with your family. With this arrangement, everyone gets a personalized present they’re sure to love, but no one has to spend more than they can afford. Agree on a gift value ahead of time to keep things fair.
- Shopping Panic: If Christmas is nearly here and you’ve forgotten to shop for someone, you still have a few options. First, consider a DIY gift that you can make from things you already have. You could also get a gift card to a store, website or restaurant you know the recipient enjoys. Alternatively, if you’re looking for the perfect gift for that compassionate humanitarian in the family, why not simply make a charitable donation in their name?
- Quantity or Quality: Every Christmas season, like most people, you’ve probably wondered whether you should opt to give several, smaller gifts or a single, but more valuable present to your loved one. It’s a dilemma that can actually be quite stressful. As a rule of thumb, go for quality over quantity. There’s no need to dwarf your Christmas tree with an overabundance of presents. Choose thoughtful, personalized items that are sure to be appreciated by the recipient, even if it means they only get to open one or two gifts.
The holidays are a time filled with warmth, cheer and joy—along with a hefty dose of stress. If you’re faced with a problematic situation this season, try to relax with one of these easy solutions.