Stress-Free Holiday Ideas

by Holly on December 20, 2013


Disclosure: I received products from HoneyBaked and Chef Payard to share information with you about these holiday helpers. No other compensation was received. As always my opinions and reviews are 100% my own.

I realize Christmas is only a few days away. I also realize that you have likely been bombarded with many wonderful ideas to make the most of your holiday season. Please allow me to introduce a couple more just in time for a Christmas hail Mary or your New Year’s plans.

The holidays are usually all about tradition, and lots of families have theirs pretty entrenched. And maybe you already take some extra help to take some of the pressure off. But if not, consider this.

Have you ever had a ham or turkey from HoneyBaked (and there are even more options available in their catalog)? Honestly, it is one of my most favorite things. The signature glaze is out of this world, but even better is how easy even this one shortcut makes things. You should also know that sending a box from HoneyBaked to your loved ones far away makes an awesome gift.

You may be surprised to find out that even though the holidays are the perfect time really go all out in the kitchen making fantastic meals, these are the times I really appreciate the shortcuts. I don’t actually want to spend all my time in the kitchen during the holidays. I’ve done that in the past and always ended up hearing all the fun happening from another room and wishing I got to participate more. A few years ago I decided that didn’t have to be the case. I didn’t have to plan and execute all of an elaborate meal to be enjoyed and miss out on the family fun. Maybe that isn’t the case for you, but I was often left feeling a whole lot less than merry and a whole lot more stressed and worried about how everything would turn out on this special occasion.


So, this is generally the one time of the year that I don’t mind taking some professional assistance. (And incidentally we go out to eat for almost every single birthday, because, hey, I’m the one that had to go through the tough parts on those birthdays for the most part and deserve a day off!).

Anyway, here are a few things HoneyBaked thought you’d like to know (with my comments in italics):

  • HoneyBaked makes serving the best tasting ham the easiest part of your holiday feast. They actually have several other options as well. Ham is our go-to favorite, but I absolutely adore their turkey breast.
  • Each HoneyBaked Ham is fully cooked and ready to serve, so you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with family and friends.
  • Underneath that sweet, crunchy glaze is the leanest, most flavorful moist and tender hams and turkey breasts you’ll find anywhere. I dearly love that glaze! I actually fight over the pieces that are cut a bit smaller so I get the most meat to glaze ratio. True story.
  • Hams are available in all sizes to suit any size gathering, and of course, the leftovers that everyone looks forward to. Best part of each time someone gets a HoneyBaked ham is the leftovers in my opinion. I will literally eat a bowl of cold ham from the fridge for lunch the next day. And I’m just fine with that. It is just as fantastic cold or on sandwiches as it is when it’s heated.
  • To complete your meal with time to spare, HoneyBaked offers more than 20 side dishes and premium desserts. My personal favorites are the Au Gratin Potatoes and the Sweet Potato Casserole, but I’ve never had a side that disappointed.
  • They also offer a variety of desserts – the rum cake sampler (shown below) is heavenly – there is also Carrot Cake and one of the prettiest Red Velvet cakes I’ve ever seen or tasted.
  • You can stop by your local HoneyBaked store or visit to reserve yours today – you can find out where your stores, and even holiday satellite stations are located by going here.
  • Did you also know that many of the HoneyBaked stores also offer freshly made sandwiches in their shops and that they can cater? 

HoneyBaked was kind enough to send me a package to help make our holidays merry and bright. Along with a gift card to help get some items from there store I received a beautiful apron from Anthropologie (the store to end all stores), a Michael Bublé  CD (love him!), and the chocolate pot with a can of Classic Hot Chocolate from Williams-Sonoma, and some glazed pecans (HoneyBaked has many snacks, gifts and condiments as well).


I also *may* have been hoarding the chocolate pot to myself. Which could come in handy for a little letter inspection before sending the kids’ lists off to Santa during a little session of plotting and planning in front of the tree (and I do love my tree!).


I also recently had the chance to try out a new product just released from one of my all-time favorites, Chef Francois Payard. Chef Payard has come up with a way to send the most delectable macaron shells via mail to anyone called the Makecaron™.


The best part? With all that finicky shell challenge (and usually frustration) out of the way, you can concentrate on having a blast filling the shells with whatever your little heart desires.

The flavors are Chocolate, Raspberry or Vanilla so there is plenty of room to play around.The Makecaron™ shells come in a three colors and flavors (shown below) and are packed in a custom made box so that they arrive to you intact and ready to fill along with some ideas and instructions.

I decided to actually stay pretty close to our favorite fillings this time – the kids wanted to keep things to their preferred tastes.

Shown below – Raspberry Makecaron™ with chocolate ganache, Chocolate Makecaron™ with marshmallow fluff, and Vanilla Makecaron™ with cherry preserves.


In fact, during another late night Christmas plotting session I *may* have indulged in a few Makecarons™ in front of the tree. I’ll never tell.


Just think what a rock star you could be having a tray filled with beautiful home-filled Makecarons™ for your New Year’s festivities or for gift giving or for any celebration. Easy peasy. And yes, I have made my own shells before, and had success. But if I’m being a 100% honest (and you know I always brutally am!) I’ve had about a 50/50 chance of success. In other words, for each batch I’ve ended up with maybe half of them as survivors that were fillable. Which means a lot of broken, flat shells. I just don’t have the knack for it. I’ve tried several recipes, read up on all the techniques and tried everything I can think of. And with only a 50% success rate, it’s just not worth the time, frustration and ingredients to me. It’s one of the few things I’ll just buy. 

I do love the opportunity to decide for myself what goes inside those shells though, and with these coming directly from Chef Payard, there is no more guess work. When I was offered this chance to tell you about this new development I was more than happy to share.

Happy Holidays to you all my friends! Go take it easy and do what should really be done and spend some quality time with your families making memories!

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