3 Ways to Plan Ahead for the Holidays This Year

Holiday Recipes

Easy Recipe Ideas, Budget Tips, and Wonder-filled Ways to Enjoy The Holiday Season

Sometimes, holiday time can lead to becoming so busy trying to check things off a to-do list that that rest, relaxation and taking in the true wonder of the season take a back seat. It’s typical to see parents fall into survival mode to rush around buying and wrapping gifts, attending events, decorating, worrying about spending too much money . . . the list goes on!

Two key factors in being able to truly feel the magic of the season from your fingers to your toes are planning ahead and keeping it simple. (They’ll keep you on budget, too!) With those concepts in mind, here are some other guidelines for a holiday season filled with special little moments that will bring smiles all around.

1. Start early to make your magic

To enjoy a smooth-sailing holiday season, starting in November to visualize what you want the holidays to be. A magical time for the kids? Days spent in your pyjamas? A turkey dinner? Helping out at a charity? Naps? Spiritual reflection? Time building snowmen and making snow angels? Decorating cookies with the neighbourhood kids? Movie nights? Decide what is non-negotiable. Write it down—and keep that on your fridge for easy reference.

If you plan to spend time with those outside your immediate household, talk to extended family and friends about what you want to do and what their expectations are. Will there be visiting? Meals together? Should you plan other get-togethers? Will you exchange gifts with certain people or not?

If you are hosting a dinner or another holiday event, this is the time to decide on your menu. Before the holiday frenzy starts is also a good time to think about setting boundaries and making sure you are carving out time for immediate family—or just for yourself. And if you want to entertain, think about how to make it easy. Instead of a dinner, why not lunch, brunch, a games afternoon or evening, a potluck?

On a budget? (Who isn’t?) Now is the time to talk to your loved ones about avoiding a gift exchange, setting price limits, or exchanging homemade (or consumable) gifts only. Maybe they will be happy to be relieved of having to spend on gift exchanges. (See more below on budgeting.)

Want to surprise your loved ones? Well before the holiday crunch, really listen to your children, partner or friends to pick up on what they might like in terms of holiday activities or gifts. That way, you won’t be left wondering at the last minute, and you can surprise them!

While you’re busy making your lists, save some time in the kitchen by serving up these Wonder Wins. They are quick and easy add-ons to kid lunch ideas. Choose salami, chicken or vegetable sandwiches. From delicious soft white bread to Texas toast bread and thin whole wheat bread, the sandwich combinations are endless!

2. Create a realistic budget

It’s so easy to overspend over the holidays! It’s tempting to take a buy-now-and-pay-later approach, and often we want to just make everyone happy! One way to avoid going over budget is to remember that for kids, family and friends, the biggest gift you can give is yourself—relaxed, unhurried and engaged.

Try taking a “less is more” approach to all aspects of the season: gifts, décor, outings, meals. Even holiday feasts can be budget-friendly and delicious when you plan ahead. Look out for sales and avoid last-minute runs to the store. Make a list of gifts you need to buy (kids, family, party/hostess/teachers/bus driver etc.) Starting early helps avoid last-minute panic purchases that aren’t quite right or that you can’t really afford.

Set up a projected amount for each person, as well as special dinners and decorations, so that when you’re purchasing holiday items or gifts you have a set budget to stay under. Remind yourself those bills will have to be paid in January.

5 Ways to Budget Your Holiday Spending

  1. If you want to send cards, make them electronic—there are several companies that offer free ecards, even animated ones, that you can email.
  2. Since wrapping paper, bags, bows and ribbon can add up quickly, shop at a dollar store for wrapping needs, and save some of it to re-use next year!
  3. Food and beverage-related gifts are a good bet because they’re often less expensive, they’ll always get used, and many people like them as they won’t add extra clutter.
  4. Invite friends over for a potluck! It’s budget-friendly for all and sets the tone for a casual, intimate holiday gathering. Make some festive colourful punch with cranberry juice, citrus and soft drinks.
  5. While some holiday meals are worthy of a splurge, for every day, check out these kid-approved recipes that are easy on the wallet, too. From lunchtime sandwiches to warm dinners and kid-friendly breakfast ideas, these 5 Kid-Friendly Recipes Under $20 will keep you on budget and will help get meals on the table quickly.
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Family Meals Under 20 dollars

 

3. Keep it simple

Especially with kids, often it’s the simple things that bring the biggest smiles: a gooey grilled-cheese sandwich, hot chocolate and a storybook, a retro board game (or Go Fish!), hanging tinsel on the tree together, a walk in the park, a snowball fight or baking cookies as a family.

Here are some simple, budget-friendly activities for the whole family:

Take a tour on foot of the neighbourhood lights. (Wear comfy boots and bring a Thermos of hot chocolate!) Or pile the kids in the car, turn on some Christmas music and drive around to see lighting displays.

Bake cookies and put in little boxes or bags and deliver them together to favourite neighbours and friends.

Create a wreath. Head outside and look for evergreens branches, leaves and anything colourful. Head home and make a wreath by attaching branches etc., to a cut-out piece of cardboard or a wire circle made from a hanger. Get kids to create paper decorations to add to the wreath.

Movie afternoon: Let each child select a favourite (holiday) movie, and watch together under a blanket with popcorn and candy canes.

Wonder in the kitchen: Get the whole family involved in creating special meals and special memories. Turn on the music and create some magic by sharing precious moments and these delicious recipes.

Try Caramel Apple Bread Pudding with Wonder® Non-GMO Project Verified White Bread. (Imagine the aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and brown sugar filling your home while it bakes!)

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Caramel Bread Pudding

 

Candy Cane Crepes

This holiday treat is easy on the budget as well as on time! Make it a fun family event by letting the kids fill their crepes featuring Wonder® Wraps or help you flip them while enjoying your favourite carols.

Ingredients

  • 4 7" Medium Wonder® Wraps
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese, softened or use the spreadable variety 
  • 2 tbsp. crushed candy cane 
  • 1 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. butter or cooking spray
  • 1/3 cup chocolate or fudge sauce, warmed

Click for full recipe.

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Candy Cane Crepes

Garlic Bread and Cheese Pasta Pie

This one is sure to bring some additional wonder to the table with a twist on pasta and sauce.

Ingredients

  • 12 slices of Wonder® White Texas Toast Bread 14 oz. (1 package) or spiral pasta, cooked
  • 2 ½ cups mozzarella, grated
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 lb. of ground beef 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 24 ounces of marinara sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 3 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 6 tbsp. butter, cubed
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced   

Click for full recipe.

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Garlic Pasta

For lazy holiday mornings in your pyjamas, Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast is a twist on a classic—it’s easy to make, and kids love it!

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Peanut Butter French Toast
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