It's that time of year again! The air is crisp with notes of cinnamon and peppermint that fill your nostrils, and as you walk hurriedly to beat the cold, you can’t help but notice the festive holiday lights are already up and there are sales everywhere! Oh yes, holiday time is here!
Now... panic and stress may be setting in with this realization, as you think of all the things you must do in order to be ready for the holiday season. You may be hosting the holiday festivities this year or simply attending a ton of pot luck dinners and other events, plastering a smile to cover up the amount of time and stress it took just getting there with all your children in tow.
Well, take a deep breath and relax. It is still possible to have a stress-free holiday gathering for your family and friends.
Here are 5 ways to host the holidays and keep your sanity:
1. Plan ahead. That's right. Go into this with a plan to make the most of your time and energy.
Plan your menu. A week or two before, write down the dishes you plan to serve and the ingredients needed for each recipe. Get your shopping done ahead of time by designating a shopping day or two and getting the items you need. This allows you to prepare everything at a relaxed pace and avoid the trap of buying unnecessary items at the last minute.
Plan how you want the day to go. This doesn't have to be a rigid, minute by minute schedule, but have an idea about what you want to happen and when. For instance, when will everyone eat, what games and music you will play (if any), how to wind down the festivities, and any other particulars specific to that day.
Plan what you will spend. Yes… set a holiday hosting budget to cover the food, décor, gifts, cards, etc. Now I know what you’re thinking, the word “budget” can seem like a four letter word around the holidays, but trust me on this. Having a set amount will help you avoid the “Host’s remorseful question syndrome” (yes, I gave it a name), where you are overtaken with mumblings of “what did I buy again?” and “I spent how much on one day just to have a mountain of dishes to clean?!! It gets real when your wallet is feeling lighter than normal. A planned budget will help you keep some extra cash in your pretty wallet or festive tea cup- whatever you prefer.
2. Keep it simple mama. This has been the key to keeping down the stress and pressure of hosting the holidays. You can have a memorable time without a complicated, marathon like 18 course spread and over the top decor resembling a Macy's holiday window- unless you want to of course.
Have a simple menu. Try serving one main dish with two sides. Pick recipes that are "guest friendly" meaning they can appease everyone, even your mother-in-law :) Consider recipes that are easy to prepare, can be made in advance, and also take advantage of the seasonal sales during this time of year.
Snack them happy! Since your menu will be shorter and more simplified, offer plenty of snacks for your guests to munch on. Think self-serve snacks like Curried popcorn (so good!), Blue corn chips with spinach dip and sliced cherry tomatoes (red and green for the season!) There are a variety of gourmet assorted crackers or mini toasts that pair well with flavored hummus dips, and flat bread to dip in olive oil seasoned with herbs. Your guests won't leave hungry and will have some great options to keep their mouths chewing and stomachs happy!
3. You don't have to do it all mama. That’s right. You can have some help and still have a slamming party! Designate some jobs to your children or others who are willing to help you prepare for the event. They can bring side dishes or help with clean up. Shop your local market’s deli or catering section for some or all of your meal, and go ahead… let Cousin Kim bring her bread pudding. That’s one less dish you’ll have to make - who couldn’t use that?!
4. Be YOU and do your own thing. Sometimes we feel pressured to do things exactly the way our grandmothers or mother or family members have done them in the past. There is nothing wrong with honoring tradition, however when it becomes too stressful and focused only on perfection, it may be time to do your own thing! Find a way to incorporate pieces of your family tradition, while also creating your own and bringing YOU to the celebration. Whether it's through decor, the menu, music and games; find a happy medium and enjoy yourself in the process.
5. Give yourself a gift. In all of the prep, hosting and clean up, don't forget about yourself mama! Schedule a few hours or even a whole day to do something that is just for YOU. This can be done before you host, after the festivities or both!
Schedule a massage. Get a pedicure. Curl up with your favorite book. Take a day to sleep. Order take out. Whatever works for you! (Click here for more self-care ideas)
By incorporating these tips, you can host your family and friends for the holidays, keep your hair in tact, and most of all, truly enjoy the ones you love during such a special time. Happy Evolution!
Which of these tips will you be using this year for your Holiday Festivities? Comment below or share your own tips!