Meet Our Host: Kristen Bell’s Survival Guide for the Holiday Season
By Kristen Bell
Holidays are for cozy gatherings with friends and family — after all, this is the time of year when gathering around a festive table with good food matters most. And for me, cooking is taking care of my nest. I’m an actress, but I’m also a wife, a mom and a home cook, and preparing a meal for my family makes me feel of service to the ones I love.
Cooking food that’s healthy and nourishing is important to me, which means responsibly sourced, sustainable and reasonably priced options. I’m a working mom, and I don’t always have time to research products and ingredients for my family. I know Whole Foods Market has super-high standards — their food doesn’t contain any artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners or preservatives, hydrogenated fats or high fructose corn syrup.
Here are some of my other strategies for a homey, healthy, fun holiday season:
1. Prep other meals ahead of time.
If family will be staying over after the big holiday dinner, make quiches well in advance and freeze them so that they’ll be ready to just pop in the oven for a quick brunch or lunch. After Thanksgiving dinner, people usually want a 24-hour break from cooking!
2. You don't have to do everything yourself.
Seek out ready-to-serve starters, like crudités, shrimp platters, olives and freshly baked bread — then you can spend more time relaxing with family and friends.
3. Make a list but don't stick to it.
If you stumble upon an ingredient that inspires you while shopping — say turmeric, harissa or a new cheese — don’t be afraid to add it to your family recipe. It’s fun to be adventurous and experiment, and you just might end up with a new favorite flavor.
4. Goof around.
My husband, Dax, our kids and I wear matching family sweaters, always. Seeing them puts everyone in a good mood. We also bring out our family’s competitive side. We put out board games and a deck of cards right next to the cheese plate. It tempts people to play while everything’s still in the oven.
5. Don't sweat the mess.
There are messes throughout the day and things get burned. Thanksgiving is about being with everyone, so I try not to let it bother me that the coffee maker hasn’t been rinsed for the last six hours!
6. Keep hostess gifts simple.
If you’re going to someone else’s house for the holidays, you can’t go wrong with a great bottle of wine. It’s standard, but classy. I just pick what’s recommended to me by the wine experts in the store!
7. Love your leftovers.
When you make a truly great meal, you don’t even need to make a sandwich with the leftovers the next day. Just mix it all together — some twice-baked sweet potatoes, some cranberries, some turkey or another plant-based main. Heat it up and it’s perfect!