Greetings from F52 HQ

18 Easy-but-Extraordinary Ways to Practice Self-Care During the Holidays

Hint: Delicious snacks & dance breaks are involved.

November 27, 2018
Photo by Julia Gartland

Food52 is not your typical office, any time of year (unless you consider perfectly art-directed bookshelves and show-stopping layer cakes coming out of the test kitchen typical), and that goes double for the holidays. We’ve got trees a-twinkling and carols on repeat as early as October. Here’s what we’re up to right now.

In our world, this time of year has a lot going on. There’s the cooking, the baking, the feasting in our homes. (We love that part the most!) There’s the gift-snagging and holiday-swapping and traveling to see family and friends. And at the office, there’s the planning and launching, the recipe-testing and article-writing, the overall magic-making at Food52 HQ.

While it feels great to make things happen, and even more exciting to watch them all come together, our lives can end up going a little, well, topsy-turvy during the holiday season. On any given weekday, all our office’s meeting spaces are booked up from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. straight, abuzz with various teams collaborating, innovating, and ironing out the details to get everything juuuust right. Our multiple photo and video studios are firing on all cylinders to tell beautiful, inspiring stories. A whole afternoon can go by before my fellow editorial teammates remember (and remind each other) to eat lunch (yep, even at a kitchen & home brand).

So we’ve found it’s pretty important—nay, essential—to take a little breather and make sure we’re doing something extra-special for ourselves to unwind. Our team turns to some smart, surefire ways to prioritize self-care in our daily routines, so we can stay fueled up, bright-eyed, and totally centered through the busy holiday season. Here’s how we do it.

We Eat Snacks...Lots of ‘Em

More often than not, there's something really good to eat floating around the office (strictly for official work purposes, of course!). But during the holidays, we tap into an even more bountiful collection of snacks (just see below).

Our Director of Finance, Victoria Maynard, with her fave snack. Photo by Eric Kim
Senior Editor, Eric Kim, readying his workspace. Photo by Ella Quittner

Kaitlin Bray, Director of Social Media: I treat myself to fancy, foamy drinks, aka peppermint mochas (extra whip, please), turmeric matcha lattes, cappuccinos, etc. And I take the time to sip and savor the foam/whipped cream on top before putting the lid on (lids destroy the foamy goodness) and getting back to my day.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“Christmas is my favorite time of year. No stress, ever. It's all about organizing and enjoying the moment. If you start early, have a plan/schedule, it gives you things to look forward to. I start right after Halloween making my plan and breeze through and enjoy every minute. 🎄”
— BerryBaby

Zoe Paknad, Director of Revenue Operations: Bread has been my holiday de-stressor, so much so that it has actually become stressful. When I went home for Thanksgiving, my dad started preheating the oven as a not-so-subtle hint that he would like me to bake him some bread for breakfast. It was a unique challenge to fire off a sourdough loaf with what tiny amount of starter I could get by the TSA, without a single measurement apparatus, dough scraper, or scale at my parents house, but all my bread obsession at home in New York prepared me well! There was something super therapeutic about making bread by touch alone. (All that said—yes, I'm happy to be back in my apartment with my dough scraper, my freshly milled flour, my brotform, and most importantly, the freedom to eat an entire loaf by myself, free of judgment.)

We Get the Legs Moving

Eunice Choi, Director of Brand Activation: I get off a stop early on the train and enjoy the walk to the office.

Casey Simring, Assistant Buyer: I go to the gym in the morning and do some hard cardio to prepare me for the day. Then, after work, I like to make dinner, have a glass (read: bottle) of wine, and chill.

Brinda Ayer, Books & Special Projects Editor (that’s me!): I try to go on a walk every day in the afternoon, to get some fresh air and a little change of scenery. Even if it’s just for five or ten minutes (more and more the case as it’s getting colder out), stepping away from my desk makes a big impact.

We Hit Pause & Relax

Katie MacDonald, Assistant Editor: I block off "relaxation time" on my calendar once a week, so I don't forget to take a couple of hours for myself. It keeps me from overcommitting to plans, which I have a tendency to do. And in that "relaxation time" I do whatever—read, watch a movie, cook. It's just something for me!

Ella Quittner, Food Writer & Recipe Developer: I order in Thai food, put on really soft pajamas (not the cute kind), turn my phone on airplane mode, then read a mystery novel on my Kindle while eating the Thai food. (Sometimes, I don't look up from the book for, like, 30 minutes.) I also like to go on a walk, all bundled up, with headphones and a mystery podcast. My latest favorite is about an art heist my mom and I have been obsessed with for a decade. It's called Last Seen.

Sean Lee, VP of People & Culture: Working at a start-up comes with its own set of unique challenges—the primary being that employees are wearing multiple hats and managing several projects simultaneously. My aim is to take all the legwork out of self-care—or at least, as much as possible—for our team. While some individuals are disciplined and passionate about self-wellness, it can be challenging to get started or stay consistent.

So, what have we done so far? Our first program provided in-office chair massages for our team, which garnered participation of over 60% of the office. The second program was a meditation class, which got very positive feedback. Looking ahead in 2019, additional classes include zumba, yoga, self-defense, and more!

We Scrub Up

Hana Asbrink, Senior Lifestyle Editor: I like to decant inexpensive red wine, throw on a face mask and some fuzzy socks, and watch bad British TV.

Sophie Corwin, Partnerships Manager: Every Sunday, I take a long shower, put on my comfiest pajamas and a face mask, and spend about an hour tending to (talking to, watering, and trimming) my plants. I don’t have a dog, but at least I have my plants.

Sarah Yaffa, Data Analyst: My skin gets pretty dry this time of year, so every morning and night, I make sure I'm sticking to my facial regimen and applying body balm. And I take baths—lots of baths.

We Keep It Silly

No, we don't have an official uniform, but the editorial team clearly loves a good, cozy turtleneck.

Care for a little festive dance break with our Shop team, anyone?

Remember what I said about a not having an official uniform...?

We Do Some of All of The Above

Emma Laperruque, Food Writer & Recipe Developer: Jogging (no bad weather, just bad clothes!), yoga with my girl Adriene (especially the short sessions as a quick reset), non-caffeinated tea every morning and night, so much citrus, wine while I cook dinner, longer-than-usual showers, hot baths with cold cocktails.

Eric Kim, Senior Editor: First, I cook myself a three-course dinner, bring a glass of wine into the bathroom, draw a very, very hot bath (like, scalding), set my laptop on this little flimsy table I have in there, watch two or three episodes of [insert show I’m obsessed with at the time, usually something murder doc-y, or a cartoon like Bob’s Burgers or BoJack Horseman].

Cory Baldwin, Director of Partner Content: I try to go to yoga as much as I can, buy gifts for myself (bonus: no wrapping!), and stay in on Friday nights to recharge.

How do you wind down & relax during this sometimes-stressful time of year? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Helen Hayashi
    Helen Hayashi
  • BerryBaby
  • Eric Kim
    Eric Kim
Brinda is the Director of Content at Food52, where she oversees all site content across Food52 and Home52. She likes chewy Neapolitan pizza, stinky cheese of all sorts, and tahini-flavored anything. Brinda lives in Brooklyn with 18 plants and at least one foster pup (sometimes more). Find her at @brindayesterday on Twitter and Instagram.


Helen H. December 17, 2018
Please tell us what the cookies are in the header picture! Recipe, please!
BerryBaby November 27, 2018
Christmas is my favorite time of year. No stress, ever. It's all about organizing and enjoying the moment. If you start early, have a plan/schedule, it gives you things to look forward to. I start right after Halloween making my plan and breeze through and enjoy every minute. 🎄
Eric K. November 28, 2018
I love that. Happy Christmas, BerryBaby. 🎄

You just reminded me I need to get my tree ASAP. Love the way it perfumes my apartment all month long.