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  • Writer's pictureJoel Shapiro

Tips for a Stress-Free Trip to the Beach for the Holidays

Looking for a great place to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas this year? Come on down to the beautiful Emerald Coast of Northwest Florida (specifically Navarre Beach or Pensacola Beach).

Trade in the white snow and gray skies for white sand, and aquamarine waters!

Even if you don’t go swimming in the Gulf during your visit you can walk on the beach and search for shells. Bring blankets and some hot coffee down to the beach and watch as God paints the skies (the picture above is a sunrise from the Navarre Pier) or take a sunset stroll with your sweetheart before dinner and be thankful for the time with each other. Sunrise is around 6 am and sunset is around 5 pm. Both are beautiful!

Rental Units:

There are lots of properties available and the prices are very affordable. Check out the list of Property Management companies at the bottom of our website (under Local Resources). You will always get the best price when you book directly.

These and other companies offer the option to use Grocery Concierge to deliver your groceries BEFORE you arrive so that you don’t have to spend time shopping. Doesn’t that sound great?! No need to shop for supplies, especially during some of the busiest times of the year at the grocery stores.

Holiday Meals & Menus:

While you are here, I recommend checking out some of our local options and incorporating them into your menu. A full list of local vendors can be found on our Downloadable Grocery List form:

There are beverage options, snacks, and gift ideas.

As wonderful as the rental properties are, they may not have all the kitchen equipment you typically use to prepare a large holiday meal. Let’s simplify the menu so that you still get all your favorites, but you can prepare it in a smaller space with fewer pots and pans. Also, instead of having multiple types of meat and multiple sides at one BIG MEAL, create multiple smaller meals.

Basic Menu:

  1. 1 Meat Item: Turkey, Ham, or Roast (Prime Rib, Beef Tenderloin or Pork Roast)

  2. Gravy or Condiment for the meat (horseradish, au jus)

  3. 1 to 2 Starch items: Cornbread Dressing, Potatoes (Sweet or White), Rice, Corn, Squash

  4. 1 Green Veggies: Green Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts,

  5. 1 Salad: Fruit or Vegetable

  6. 1 Bread

  7. 1-2 Desserts (It’s the holidays!)

Disposable Pans:

The rental units are typically not going to have large roasting pans for Turkeys or Roasts so you will need to buy disposable pans. Disposable pans come in lots of different sizes (approximate sizes below):

  1. Cake Pan: 9 x 13 inches

  2. Loaf Pan: 8 x 4 inches and Mini Loaf Pan: 5 ½ x 3 x 2 inches

  3. Round Cake Pan: 8 inches

  4. Square Cake Pan: 8 x 8 inches

  5. Casserole Pan: 11 ¾ inch x 9 ¼ inch x 1 ½ inch

  6. All Purpose/Lasagna Pan: 13 ¼ x 9 ½ x 2 ¾ inches

  7. Oval Roaster: 13 x 16 x 3

  8. Roaster: 12 inches x 9 inches

  9. Deep Roaster: 16 inches x 11 ¾ inches x 3 inches (20 lbs.)

  10. Super Roaster: 16 inches x 12 ½ inches x 3 ¼ inches (25 lbs.)

These will also make clean-up EASY breezy, so you can enjoy the sea breeze more!

Baked Goods: Breads and Sweets

If you plan to bake you should plan that the units won’t have cake pans, muffin pans or pie plates. Disposable cake pans with lids are a great option since you can bake and store all in the same container. Pick recipes that bake in a single 9 x 13-inch pan like Chocolate Sheet Cake, Gingerbread, and Honeybun Cake.

As for pies, I suggest buying frozen pies and then adding fresh whipped topping or ice cream. My suggestion on frozen pies is to buy Marie Callender’s Pumpkin and Pecan. These taste the most like homemade and for many families, these are the “homemade pies” they know. I have not been able to find a frozen traditional 2 crust Apple pie that I like. Marie Callender’s offers a streusel-topped apple pie that’s a good option, or you could buy a bakery pie (Publix and Walmart both offer these).

Other sweets and treats like fudge, rum or bourbon balls, Christmas cookies should be baked at home and brought with you. TSA allows cookies, candies on planes. Here’s an article: Be sure that the items can be “inspected” without having to be completely unwrapped. Place cookies in Ziplocs, or small plastic containers like Rubbermaid TakeAlongs. If the items are to be a gift, pack your gift wrap and tape so you can wrap them after you arrive in Florida.

Biscuits, Bread, and Cornbread. Seems like every family has their favorites—Hawaiian rolls-Brown and Serve-Pillsbury Crescent Rolls-Canned or Frozen Biscuits. Buy what you like and be sure to get extra butter! Also, Publix offers a Bread of the Month if you want to try something new!!!

And of course, Cornbread for Southern Dressing. I suggest using a mix (Martha White Yellow is a good mix for dressing because it is NOT sweet) to keep it simple and again, you may want to buy some disposable pans to first bake the cornbread and then use for mixing up the dressing and an even larger one for baking the dressing. But remember to not get it so thick that it takes FOREVER to bake and get done in the middle.

If you want to order Cakes, Cupcakes, or Cheesecakes, please add a note on your Grocery Delivery List and we will work with one of our local bakers/bakeries for you.

Seasoning and Spices:

Having a lot of different spices can be a challenge when traveling. At home, you have a spice rack full of different spices and spice blends, but here you are going to want to try and keep it simple. We provide all of our customers with a complimentary set of Salt & Pepper shakers!

If your recipes call for things like poultry seasoning, dried sage, ground mustard, etc I suggest bringing those from home so that you don’t have to buy an entire container and only use a couple of teaspoons. You can pre-measure the spices for your recipes and label each in a small Ziplock so you know which is which and place them all in one larger Ziplock and toss in your suitcase or carry on.

Fresh Produce:

Fresh Veggies and Fruit are now available in many pre-cut containers and combinations. Publix Grocery has several different fresh-cut items in steamable bags that will not only reduce the number of pots and pans you need to use and then clean but these may be just the right amount for one meal depending on the size of your family/group. Small bags of “baby potatoes” are great for roasting with olive oil or for boiling and mashing.

For an easy fruit salad, the kids will love, start with a container of fresh fruit like melons and grapes and add an apple or a can of peaches (no syrup), or pineapple chunks. Quick and easy to prepare!

Adult Beverages:

Some quantities to know before buying wine and liquors:

Wine Bottle (750 ml) = 5 servings (about 5 oz each) or 3 servings (about 8 oz each)

Liquor Bottle (750 ml) = 15 servings (1.5 oz) or if using larger bottles (1.75L) = 39 servings (1.5 oz)

You can purchase beer and wine in all the grocery stores and convenience stores. There is a small wine shop in Navarre, The Vine, and in Pensacola, The Wine Bar has opened at World of Wine which is also very nice. There are several local craft breweries in Navarre and Pensacola.

Liquor is sold in “separate stores”—they have different entrances and hours are typically 9 am to 9 pm every day of the week.

One of our OFFERINGS is to bring the wine country or the brewery to you at your vacation rental. More details can be found on our website.

Additional Resources:

Check out my other blog articles: Vacation Menu Ideas that Work at Home and Menu Planning for Vacations for more ideas and helpful tips. Call with any questions about items to order, or quantities.

Place your order, and enjoy your holidays more!

Start Your Holiday Vacation Sooner!

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