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Holiday Crunch Time

American life is getting more and more hectic with as many as 85% of U.S. employees working more than a 40-hour work week and 42% not taking a single vacation day last year.

Even with the work-life balance off kilter, the five-week span between Thanksgiving and New Year are traditionally considered to be a period to enjoy quiet time with loved ones and appreciate the things money can’t buy.

Whether that means gathering around the fireplace to sip cocoa, around the tree to sing carols or around the table for a hearty meal, the holidays are the best time of year to reconnect with friends and family.

But, with work hours ever-encroaching on our personal lives, what are some ways to save time to re-invest where it really matters during the upcoming holiday season?

If you’ve got a big holiday party or family dinner coming up and are too busy to cook, here are our favorite ways to have a delicious meal without stressing out at the stove all day.

If you have a small crowd or want to keep the budget to a minimum, a     popular standard is your local HoneyBaked Ham, where it’s possible to keep dinner costs for a small group to under $100 and still get a beef pot roast, several heat and serve sides, rolls and even a sweet treat like a southern pecan pie. Visit http://www.honeybaked.com to find your nearest location and place your order to pick up in-store.

For groups of six to 18, the fine folks at The Dinner A’Fare are serving up December Holiday Packages for $149 (for 6), $219 (for 12) and $279 (for 18) and delivering them straight to your door so you don’t even have to leave the house.

Made fresh, but designed to be frozen if necessary (just be sure to let thaw two days before you plan to cook it), the pre-fixe package includes Shrimp Cocktail Vincente, Savory Herb Prime Rib Roast with Horseradish Cream, Sour Cream & Chive Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Soufflé, Broccoli & Cheddar Bake and Bread Pudding Bars with Vanilla Crème for dessert.

The December holiday packages are almost identical to the normal meals The Dinner A’Fare prepares for its clients throughout the year, but everything is packaged to be transferred to your own casserole dishes instead of disposable cookware, so it doesn’t look store-bought. Just heat and serve on your most festive holiday dishes.

Visit http://www.dinnerafare.com to review the full menu, then call (770) 662-3001 to place your order before Dec. 16. Be sure to mention you heard about them in Cobb Life, and the $25 delivery fee will be waived.

Don’t wait too late to make your holiday meal plans. Drop off days need to be scheduled in advance for The Dinner A’Fare. Caterers and personal chef schedules fill up quickly.

If a custom designed buffet-style menu for as many guests as your house can hold is more your speed, the team at The Bountiful Basket Catering can ensure your holiday meal is a hit.

Owner and Smyrna resident Mike Hickman will personalize the menu to your special requests, dietary needs and budget and deliver it to your home for around $25 per person to start or stick around with an on-site chef and server starting at around $50 per person.

Although Hickman does not use pre-fixe menus, he usually suggests beginning with hors d’oeuvres before moving into the entrée and sides (such as the beef tenderloin and roasted brussel sprouts prepared for us) and then making way for dessert.

Visit http://www.bountifulcatering.net for holiday meal inspiration, then call (770) 431-1876 to begin planning your holiday meal with Hickman.

If you have a party of 10 or more and are looking for the ultimate in full-service luxury, why not book with a personal chef who will prepare your holiday meal right in the comfort of your own home?

Kennesaw resident and American Personal & Private Chef Association member Allison Hayes-Beadle of Ali’s Personal Chef Service will meet with you to assess likes, dislikes and more before developing a menu especially for you. She’ll arrive two hours early for prep and even stay to clean up the mess, so you really won’t have to worry about doing anything.

Although Hayes-Beadle also handles drop-off meals, her full-service rates are generally $75 per person and up, depending on menu items. She went with a personal favorite Italian theme for this article, featuring Chicken Milanese, Linguini Puttanesca, Broccoli Rabe, Hot Pepper Shrimp and Lemon Olive Oil Cake, but will work with you to customize your ideal menu.

Book with Hayes-Beadle by calling (678) 392-6662. No matter how you choose to plan that party and enjoy that holiday meal, remember time is free — but priceless.

*Originally published in the December 2015 issue of Cobb Life magazine.

mpruden

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