Ready or not, you’re going to be caught. Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, Christmakkuhwanza, New Years… every year the holiday season arrives, and you’re swamped with a crush of activities and details. Holiday parties, cards and gifts, finding a tree, booking the flights, where did you stash the decorations, are we going to your parents this year or mine? If you are hosting family and friends, then the season takes on an even greater swirl of planning – and dare we admit – stress.

Back in the 1950s and 60s when half the population was expected to stay at home and take care of these domestic duties, women would take pride in handling them with great attention. Because when one isn’t allowed to be a litigator, an accountant or an obstetrician, one’s immense faculties are channeled into reupholstering the house four times a year to match the season.

In the 1980s, women held down full-time jobs while sacrificing their sleeping hours in order to carve out gourds in which to serve homemade butternut squash soup and string their homes with mercury glass lanterns acquired at tag sales in Connecticut (or Pottery Barn). The ‘Superwoman’ syndrome of the 80s was built on a hyper-competitive culture, somewhat masochistic, with covertly patriarchial underpinnings. But damn, the holidays were fun for the kids, especially when mom fell asleep at the table and faceplanted into the cranberry baked brie.

Thankfully, the third millennium has ushered in a much more chilled and socially acceptable era of womanhood, domestic duties and entertaining. We’ve seen the future, and to misquote the film The Graduate, the future is outsourcing.

We’ve learned to value our time.

Suppose your hourly rate as a lawyer is $250. You spend $300 on groceries for a big family dinner, plus six hours of mashing, grating, basting, roasting, chopping, baking, tossing, and cleaning – ie: six hours in which you otherwise could have earned $1,500. So that dinner is really costing you $1,800, which makes the price of the Whole Foods “Festive Feast for 12” seem like an absolute bargain at $399.00 – and all you have to do is set the table.

For many, catering is the “ah-ha” moment when we realize we can free up a lot more time and money with the help of a few professionals. Here are a few more examples to help you out over the holiday zone.

  • Outsource your cleaning. When you need a quick hose-down, services such as Molly Maid can send in a cleaning team for a cost of around $60 – $75 an hour.
  • Outsource running around. Instacart is the Uber of errands. In Canada, the pick-up and delivery app covers retailers such as Loblaws, Shoppers Drug Mart, Costco, Walmart, even the LCBO in Ontario. Delivery is a mere $3.99 plus tip—or join as a member for unlimited deliveries.
  • Outsource your in-laws. Ok, not really, but you can keep them close without being too close, and preserve the sanctity of your sofa, by leasing a nearby Airbnb when they visit. Who stays in the rental is entirely up to you. Cost varies according to neighbourhood.
  • Outsource your outfit angst. Borrow an amazing gown, suit or fabulous jumpsuit and have it delivered to your home for a total cost between $50-$100, depending on the outfit. Drycleaning included and no shopping required.
  • Outsource your grooming. Swing a 45-minute blow-out for $45, and an express mani & pedi at your local nail bar for around $40. Mad respect if you can convince a place to do all three services at the same time.

A decision to outsource is always a calculation of your time versus your money. But as Gandhi said to his wife as she stressed over the cost of hiring a gardener, “Freedom is never dear at any price.”