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Newsletter: December 2018

Staying Simple for the Season

It’s hard not to overcommit ourselves during this time of year. Between planning holiday celebrations, shopping and gift-giving and feeling the pressure to “do everything” so we can make the most of the season, the whole month of December can easily turn into one big to-do list. In the midst of all the bustle, it can be easy to lose sight of the people we’re doing all those special things for: our families.

We can’t tell you to clear the calendar completely this month, or not to rush around from party to party and store to store as you check off the must-do items. But we can remind you to find some time to stop and take a breath while you spend a few much-needed moments with the people you love. Use the family dinner table this month as a place where you can all pause, focus on each other, and remember all the reasons you’re grateful for the season. Here are some ways to keep dinner a sanctuary rather than a source of stress:

  • Make it convenient. Home-cooked meals can be a wonderful part of the family dinner ritual, but sometimes taking a little help from the store makes sitting down together for a meal much more realistic. On busy nights, focus meals around relatively healthy store-bought options that can be expanded on to make a nutritious but quick dinner: Rotisserie chicken shredded into tacos, frozen vegetable potstickers simmered in chicken broth for a fast wonton soup, prepared ravioli and pesto served with a big salad. The extra minutes you’ll gain will help you feel calmer when dinnertime comes so you can focus on the conversation at the table.
  • Make a wish list. It’s easy to assume that we “have to” do all the things that come our way during the holiday season, but more isn’t always better. Use dinner as an opportunity to talk with your whole family about what really makes the season feel special to each person. Make a wish list together with one or two items that are important to each member of the family, and give yourselves permission to skip anything that didn’t make the list. Maybe the kids aren’t as devoted to the Elf on the Shelf as you think they are, or maybe your spouse doesn’t care that much about the big party at work. It’s okay to take things off the list to make room for relaxation.
  • Make it a celebration of its own. A few times during the month, find a simple way to make dinner a special part of the seasonal celebrations. Try a Friday night pj party with pancakes and hot chocolate, a pizza dinner eaten while you enjoy a movie together, or a dessert-first dinner where the whole family pitches in to get some of the holiday baking done — and samples the results!

No matter what, how, when and why you’re celebrating this month, we hope you’ll keep coming back to the dinner table as a source of joy and connection all year long.

Family of the Month

Meet the Buck family! Sara, Jamie and their two kids are finding ways to make dinner easier as their son enters his teen years.

Real Family Dinner Projects: The Buck Family

Food

Make the most of convenience foods in a tasty, nutritionist-approved recipe that will be on the table in under 20 minutes.

Tortellini and Spinach Soup

Fun

Adapt this activity to the season and have the whole family make and decorate holiday cards or notes of peace and kindness for others.

Cards to Show You Care

Conversation

Get the family talking about their favorite parts of the season with this conversation starter!

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