Looking for a great place to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas this year? Come on down to Navarre, Florida on the beautiful Emerald Coast.
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. Sunrise is around 6 am and is beautiful and the sun will set around 5 pm. 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.
There are lots of properties still available and the prices are very affordable. Here are some local property management companies that I work with:
Best Beach Getaway (limited number of units in Navarre)
ResortQuest (offer lots of houses if you are bringing a large family)
These companies offer the option of using Organized Occasions 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. Add fresh seafood to your appetizers from Navarre Seafood Market, or pick up some custard at Culver’s (they offer a new flavor every day, and pre-packed quarts). Where Ya At Seafood offers ready-made jambalaya and red beans and rice that would be great side items. And you can order smoked Hams and Turkeys for Thanksgiving from East River BBQ—call ahead to place order 850-939-2802 and pick up on Wednesday Nov 27th from 11 am to 4 pm. This will also save you the necessary defrost time (days) for a frozen turkey and the space in the refrigerator.
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.
Here’s what I suggest for a holiday meal:
- 1 Meat Item: Turkey, Ham, or Roast (Prime Rib, Beef Tenderloin or Pork Roast)
- Gravy or Condiment for the meat (horseradish, au jus)
- 1 to 2 Starch items: Cornbread Dressing, Potatoes (Sweet or White), Rice, Corn, Squash
- 1 Green Veggies: Green Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts,
- 1 Salad: Fruit or Vegetable
- 1 Bread
- 1-2 Desserts (It’s the holidays!)
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):
- Cake Pan: 9 x 13 inches
- Loaf Pan: 8 x 4 inches and Mini Loaf Pan: 5 ½ x 3 x 2 inches
- Round Cake Pan: 8 inches
- Square Cake Pan: 8 x 8 inches
- Casserole Pan: 11 ¾ inch x 9 ¼ inch x 1 ½ inch
- All Purpose/Lasagna Pan: 13 ¼ x 9 ½ x 2 ¾ inches
- Oval Roaster: 13 x 16 x 3
- Roaster: 12 inches x 9 inches
- Deep Roaster: 16 inches x 11 ¾ inches x 3 inches (20 lbs.)
- Super Roaster: 16 inches x 12 ½ inches x 3 ¼ inches (25 lbs.)
These will also make clean up a breeze 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: “TSA Rules for Traveling with Food”. 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, Breads, and Cornbread. Seems like every family has their favorites—Hawaiian rolls. Brown and Serve. Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. Canned Biscuits 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.
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 with only buying a salt & pepper shaker set.
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 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 to 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!
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)
In Navarre, you can purchase beer and wine in all the grocery stores and convenience stores. We also have a small wine shop Vine Wine which is both a retail store and a great place to enjoy a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. The Grey Taproom is another local establishment that offers craft beer, wine, and a full-service bar.
Liquor is sold in “separate stores”—they have different entrances and hours are typically 9 am to 9 pm every day of the week.
Check out my other blog articles: Vacation Menu Ideas that Work at Home and Menu Planning for Vacations for more ideas and helpful tips.
And I am offering Winter Rates on Grocery Delivery. So place an order, save money and relax sooner!