Get into the holiday mood with these easy taste-tempters
The last week before Christmas is reliably the most stressful time of the whole year. On top of work deadlines, festive socialising and end-of-year events, the kids are on holiday from school. While they’re super excited and looking forward to summer, you’re still juggling at breakneck speed. Having the kids home when you’re busy is all very well when the weather obliges but if it’s wet things can get raggedy. My solution was always to bake. When the kids were little, a babysitter would come over to supervise, but as they got older we could leave them to be in charge of Christmas baking and treats.
Organising non-retail excursions is another fun way to create a sense of holiday adventure that doesn’t involve spending money. Bake muffins, scones or cupcakes for a mini picnic and head out for an adventure. Take a hike up one of Auckland’s 50 volcanoes, head to the beach or go fishing with a hand line on any of Auckland’s coastal wharves and jetties.
Our kids grew up before the selfie era, but these days there’s a lot of appeal for kids in a daily selfie of them doing something somewhere new. Set a challenge to have an adventure a day and get them to take a selfie with their home baking in each location. You can even print out their pictures and stick them on a map on the wall. Experiences, with photos to trigger the recall, create a bank of happy memories to look back on.
In the evenings, without the pressure of early school starts, run dinner a little later and pack a simple barbecue to take outdoors. Arrange to meet friends and enjoy the long, late evenings over the simplest of meals. You don’t need to get fussy here — par-boil sausages for the barbie, grab a loaf of bread or rolls and some sauce, add in some salad, a punnet of berries and a bar of chocolate and the job’s done.
Pack a couple of picnic rugs, paper towels, portable plates, glasses and insect repellent and throw in wine, fizzy water, cheese and
MINI PITA PIZZAS
antipasti snacks for the adults. Impromptu, casual get-togethers like this are my favourite way to catch up with friends and their kids in the madness before Christmas.
One of the best ways to get into the holiday mood is with a simple end-of-year pool party or a picnic at your local park. Set up a couple of old-fashioned games like egg-and-spoon races, three-legged races or apple bobbling for more fun. Make watermelon heart or star pops by cutting thick slices of watermelon and pressing out shapes with a cookie cutter, then push a wooden iceblock stick into the base for easy eating. Fill a big pitcher with a mocktail and whip up a couple of simple tasty treats for the kids to graze on as they play. Let the summer holidays begin.