Taming Holiday Anxiety + Spiced Bourbon & Maple Glazed Cashews

I adore the holidays 

The decorations, the gatherings, the music, the movies… so many warm fuzzies! But if you’re not careful, the holidays can also be exhausting. Those idyllic Hallmark Christmas movie expectations can be tough to live up to — and trying to can lead to all kinds of holiday-induced stress and anxiety.

The pressure to find the “perfect” gifts for friends and family, making sure all of those gifts and cards are delivered in time, coupled with the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations, which side of the family you’re going to visit this year, and oh! you still need to make two pecan pies and four-dozen Christmas cookies for the office party and Junior’s holiday bake sale… 

It can start to feel a little crazy. The reality is, we probably can’t (and shouldn’t) try to do it all.

Taking an honest look at what is important to you and your family, focusing only on those things and giving yourself permission to let the rest go, can go a long way toward alleviating the pressures and helping to reclaim the joy of the holidays.

Be selective about the social events and invitations you accept. You’re allowed to decline invitations or additional tasks if they add unnecessary stress. Learn to be okay with saying no when needed to protect your time and energy.

Make self-care a priority. Don’t let your wellness routines go out the window during the holidays. Continue to prioritize sleepexercise regularly and schedule breaks when needed to relax and recharge.

*Deep breath*

I’m still very much a work in progress — I still want to do it ALL, and I tend to get frustrated and feel guilty when I can’t. I come by it honestly. I was fortunate to grow up in a home with lovely holiday traditions, lots of presents under the tree and gorgeous platters of homemade Christmas cookies. My mom was a holiday rockstar, but I know it was stressful for her, and she eventually got burnt out too.

I’m working on overhauling my own expectations of what the holidays *should* look like and streamlining wherever it makes sense. 

One small thing we changed this year s adopting reusable gift wrap and gift bags. Some people adore unleashing their creative side and wrapping beautiful presents, but I am not one of those people. I enjoy the hunt for the gifts, but when it came time to wrap them (invariably at the last minute) it frequently feels like a chore. So last year, I invested in a supply of cute Christmas-themed fabric drawstring bags in a variety of sizes. It now takes me exactly 2.3 seconds to “wrap” a present. They still look adorable under the Christmas tree, we’re reducing paper and plastic waste AND I don’t have to dread wrapping a bunch of stuff. 

Winning! 💫

We’re also working on embracing a more minimalist approach to gift giving, with a focus on homemade gifts for most of our friends. Meaningful gifts don’t have to be elaborate or expensive. As much as I love searching for that *perfect* gift for each and every person on my list, the act of making something with my own hands is far more special than anything I could buy.

And counterintuitive as it might seem, homemade gifts can actually save you time — particularly if you choose one thing to give everyone each year and make it in batches. The economies of scale can save you time compared to individually selecting and purchasing items for each and every person on your list.

Last year, we made a homemade mason jar-bean soup mix for everyone and, the year before that, it was an adaptogen hot cocoa mix. 

This year, we’re making spiced bourbon-glazed cashews. 

These lightly sweet cashews are glazed in a combination of maple sugar, butter and bourbon infused with vanilla, apple peels, cinnamon and cardamom. 

The alcohol in the bourbon evaporates almost as soon as it makes contact with the hot skillet, leaving behind a lovely, subtle spiced bourbon flavor. 

Three cheers for embracing simplicity and paring down our holiday rituals to *just* the ones that bring joy, minimize anxiety and help us to rediscover the magic that *should* accompany this festive time of year (after all the unnecessary complexities are stripped away).

Have you simplified your holiday rituals? What does that look like for your family? Share your ideas in the comments!

Note that these are intended to be a special-occasion treat and not a staple food. If you find yourself making these on a regular basis or if you’re sensitive to nuts, you should probably consider soaking and dehydrating the cashews before moving to the glazing step. (You can also buy pre-soaked organic sprouted cashews from places like Thrive Market.)

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Apple Spice-Infused Bourbon

  • Author: Redheaded Herbalist



1 pint bourbon

2 vanilla beans, split and chopped

3 green cardamom pods, crushed

1 cinnamon stick, crushed

apple peels from a small organic apple


  • Combine all ingredients in a pint-sized mason jar and cover with bourbon.
  • Infuse for a minimum of 1 week, shaking the jar daily.
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Spiced Bourbon & Maple Glazed Cashews



1/3 c maple sugar

1 T salted butter, softened

1 fl oz bourbon, infused

1/2 tsp high-quality salt

2 c raw cashews


  • Prepare a parchment (or silicone) lined pan.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together maple sugar, butter, bourbon and salt.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, toast the cashews for a minute or two, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  • Pour the maple-bourbon mixture on top of the toasted cashews in the skillet. Stir constantly for about 30 seconds, until the nuts are thoroughly coated and the liquid has evaporated.
  • Dump the hot cashews/pecans onto your prepared parchment-lined pan and allow to cool. Once cooled, gently break the nuts apart.
  • Store in an airtight container.


Use a large enough skillet so that all of the cashews have contact with the pan. I used a 12″ cast iron skillet for 2 cups of cashews.


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The content on redheadedherbalist.com is for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Claims made on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.

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