Note: this is part 2 of a post sponsored by Pepperidge Farm — they challenged me to come up with ways to “rescue” the holidays when the unexpected happens. You can read more about that sponsorship, and the first part of the challenge, here.
This weekend, my husband went with our three kids to his parents’ place while I undertook an intensive organizing marathon. My goal: to finally face-off with “the box” — the receptacle sitting next to my desk that (until late Saturday night) held every single important piece of paper, receipt, bill, invoice, packing slip, notice, card, or file that I’ve received in the 18 months since we moved into this house. Stacked up, in order, from the time I started putting them there in May of 2010.
See, it all just went into “the box” because I couldn’t file it. And the reason I couldn’t file it was because I had not yet rigged my up-cycled idea for a file cabinet:
(ok, how cute is it?? I do love it. But the image of this, in my head, yet incomplete, is what kept me from filing anything for EIGHTEEN MONTHS. Is it now clear why some of those papers included receipts for a therapist?)
I totally accomplished my goal — even squeezing in book club on Friday night and a fun jaunt Saturday morning to the Indy Winter Farmer’s Market with Sonja and Alex of A Couple Cooks. Leaving me feeling like a superstar, right up until about 7pm Sunday night when I realized that Thanksgiving is THIS week.
And how exactly did that happen?
Between last week’s Bug of Terror and my whirlwind weekend fling with some plastic bins and a borrowed document shredder, it’s like I lost a whole week of November.
And I’ll be honest here — I’m not even cooking Thanksgiving dinner, we’re headed to my in-laws’ for the big day. But once we get back, it’ll be nothing but fast and furious non-stop Festivus right up until the first week in January. The realization of all this got me into planning mode, which got me thinking more about my Emergency Plan for the holidays.
Between me and many of you who commented on last week’s post, it seems that freezing things ahead is a trend when it comes to expecting the unexpected (only two of you admitted to having/wanting generators in your basement, so I’m gonna go ahead and remove that from my list of Things I Should Be Panicking About Not Doing In The Near Future).
So going into this holiday season, here are some things I’ll be trying to do to make sure last-minute surprises or illnesses don’t dampen the spirit at the table:
- I’ll have a freezer stocked with pre-baked goods, including last week’s Pepperidge Farm Stone Baked Artisan rolls. A handful of extras will go a long way on a busy evening when cooking from scratch isn’t an option — and it’s always good to have something that my husband can cook without my looking over his shoulder (not that I ever do that).
- Always have frozen cookie dough on-hand — I like to make double dough recipes and divide them into smaller portions, baking just a dozen cookies at a time. It’s the perfect amount for an impromptu dessert or afternoon tea if a friend pops in unexpected.
- Try to stock a few extra bottles of wine in the basement — ones that aren’t to be opened unless company arrives (perhaps a locked safe is in order here? One to which I don’t know the combination?) I’ll also check the “liquor cabinet” (i.e., the cabinet above our refrigerator where a handful of liquor bottles share space with green coffee beans, cookie-decorating paraphernalia and empty ice cube trays) to make sure we have full-ish bottles of other seasonal liqueurs — a fresh White Russian or homemade egg nog can make the most unexpected guest feel warm and welcome.
And thanks to last week’s comments, I’ll be adding a few of your line items to my HEP (Holiday Emergency Plan):
- Always have yummy cheese in the dairy drawer, and perhaps some fancy crackers.
- Have my pantry stocked with the ingredients for at least 2 recipes that are easy to whip out in a pinch.
- Make-ahead enough pizza dough for an impromptu pizza night (I think my fingers are physically unable to dial the number for Papa Johns, I’m blaming a recessive genetic trait).
Meantime, I do have some baking to do. I’m hoping to share a recipe this week for a grain-free, naturally-sweetened dessert for my own holiday enjoyment (since I’ll be forgoing the traditional dessert table for obvious reasons) — and while I don’t expect you all to rush in and replace your grandmother’s pumpkin pie, it might be one you file away for another day — maybe in January when everyone’s on a resolution-like sugar hiatus (and my misery will finally have company).