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Holiday Preparations Survey Confirms Stressed Out Feel
An easy way to take stress out of holiday preparations is to keep it simple such as adding crispy bacon to a traditional green bean casserole for a new taste twist. Photo Contributed

With California families now getting ready for Christmas dinner and other holiday meals, a recent study found that many are feeling the stress that comes with the big day prep.

According to the Del Monte Holiday Meal Census – which surveyed 3,000 Americans about their holiday habits and stress levels – California residents spend an average of 5.4 hours preparing for a family holiday meal, with many hours of additional time spent on cleaning the house and coordinating extended family members.

Additionally, 50 percent of California residents report high stress levels related to holiday planning (defined as a level of “5” or higher on a 10-point scale) – a figure high enough to rank California as the 19th most ‘stressed out’ U.S. state during the holidays.

So how can you impress your in-laws without driving yourself crazy? No matter how much time you have to prepare, the recipe experts in the Del Monte holiday kitchen recommend these four tips to reduce holiday meal stress:

* Fake The Fancy

Use special garnishes to make each dish look more spectacular without the stress. For instance, try lining your meat platter with lemon leaves, clusters of rosemary sprigs, and citrus wedges.


* Have a Secret Ingredient

Even adding just one special ingredient can totally reinvent your favorite dish without creating more work for you. Add apple cider to your gravy for a sweet change up or add cranberries to your horseradish sauce for a tangy twist.


* Work in Technicolor

Go the extra mile by introducing different and surprising colors into your traditional holiday menu (instead of more complicated and stressful recipes). If your holiday dinner table looks a little drab, add a dish in radiant yellow like Del Monte’s Cheddar Corn Casserole.


* Twist Your Tradition


Experiment with simple, easy ways to enhance your holiday staples without the fuss. You could add crispy bacon to your green bean casserole, stir some caramelized onions into your mashed potatoes, or make a double-nut pie by combining both pecans and walnuts.