Best tip for staying organized over the holidays

My one sanity-saving kitchen tip for the holidays

Party planning is in full swing around here. I’m not cooking and styling a cookbook (like last December) or pregnant (three years ago), and so I’m feeling inspired to cook up a spread and entertain to the nines.

We’ve got a massive cocktail party in the works, as well as a few intimate dinners. Danny’s planning a beer tasting, and we’ll probably host a holiday brunch or two as well.

So far my love of lists is helping me stay organized with shopping items, guest lists and menus, but I’ve stumbled upon a little kitchen trick that is totally saving my sanity  — and we all know how important that is over the holidays.

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rolling gingerbread with kids

Holiday baking with kids and a gingerbread house recap

Our weekend plans went awry when little Clara fell quite seriously sick and we were back and forth from the emergency room both Saturday and Sunday.

She is on the mend (we hope) and we are catching up on sleep and life. Maybe I’ll finally get to unpack from London and tackle my email inbox.

Not surprisingly, it was baking together as a family over the weekend that offered a respite from the stress. My mind has a tendency to head to a very dark place when these mysterious medical issues show up (it doesn’t help when not one, but four doctors misdiagnose the case) and I need a diversion. Preferably some thing with cinnamon and spice, cookie cutters and sprinkles.

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Lunch at Fifteen

British hospitality and an event with Jamie Oliver

London Bridge in the fog. The view from the galleries of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Cheery Christmas markets. Mince pies from Harrods.

I pondered every little detail of my recent trip to London, as I tossed and turned, draped over two airplane seats. Flying over the ocean for hours on end, I finally summed it up in one word: hospitality.

The British have had a long-standing reputation for being polite, but everything my sister and I experienced went far and above common courtesy. It was enough to leave a lasting impression, and oddly enough, made me understand my dad’s preoccupation with good manners.

It started at the airport, receiving friendly assistance as we sorted out the public transportation to central London. (If you’re taking notes, buy the Oyster card and hop on the Piccadilly line.)

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Bûche de Noël / Yule Log / Chocolate Hazelnut Roll | Simple Bites #kidsinthekitchen #baking

Chocolate Hazelnut Bûche de Noël (Yule Log)

Whipping cream into soft peeks, spreading frosting on cookies, or dusting the fruitcake with powdered sugar, holiday baking has to be the ultimate opportunity to welcome the children into the kitchen and let them stir, mix and roll alongside you.

In doing so, you are making memories together and creating traditions that just might last through generations. Perhaps it is just a simple batch of shortbread, prepared a few different ways and loved by all, or cut-out gingerbread cookies, our annual holiday cookie of choice. But whatever the recipe, make sure to include little helpers when you bake – it will have a lasting impression on them.

We recently sweetened up a Saturday afternoon preparing something extra special for our weekly Sunday dinner. It was enormous fun to make with my Mateo, which is why we decided to share it here with you.

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pie header

Weekend links and photos

This week was a blur, packed with a never-ending to-do list before I pack my bags and fly.

That’s right, today I head East over the Atlantic for the first time since my honeymoon. I’m off to London for a few days with my sister. We’re going to have some much-needed girl time together over afternoon tea, fine art, and cathedrals views. We’ll also attend a holiday event with the one and only Jamie Oliver, so be sure to follow along on our adventures on Instagram!

I’m feeling festive these days, as demonstrated by today’s link love:

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