The Brias and Books enjoy a relaxing evening, free from cooking duties.

Easy Entertaining

Remove the fuss from joyful holiday gatherings

By Jill Aker-Ray | Photos by Shrimp & Grisettes

The key ingredient to celebrating the 2021 winter holidays in Ballantyne might just be togetherness. Why not sprinkle in a little more simplicity and a lot less preparation and work? After all, “normal” is a thing of the past. One can enjoy the company of loved ones and resume traditions while outsourcing the fuss!

If your jam is to staycation in your favorite pandemic PJs, then leave the planning, cooking and cleanup to a personal chef. Or order from a trusted local restaurant that has helped you with meals over the last 21 months. This outsourcing will free up moments for a stroll through Gingerbread Lane or an afternoon in Ballantyne’s Backyard.

Bring a vacation chef along with you or coordinate one at your destination if you are tiptoeing out to travel in sparkling style for the holidays. Choices exist that will allow you to support local restaurants and small-business owners.

So, go ahead, let yourself off the hook. It’s been a challenging time. Allow yourself to focus on what’s most important this holiday season, which is being together with your family and friends.

A self-serve punch adds festivity to any gathering.

The Bria and Book Families

After a career in medical technology, Providence Country Club resident Tracy Bria channeled her passion for health and fitness into opening a franchise HOTWORX studio in Ballantyne Town Center in the fall of 2019. She plans to open two more studios next year.

Tracy’s husband, Jason, is a lawyer. Her mom and mom’s husband, Bev and Joel Book, moved from Indianapolis to Charlotte in 2018 to be near their children and grandchildren. The Books live down the street, making it a snap for the extended family to gather for holidays and play a round of intergenerational golf.

Grandsons Drew, 14, and Jake, 12, ride their bikes to Nanny and Grandpa for visits. At the start of the pandemic, they all split time between Charlotte and Isle of Palms, maximizing the extra bonding moments and the silver lining of virtual school.

The families look to outsource cooking duties whenever they can. So, the author of this piece serves as a vacation and personal chef for the Brias and Books.