The holiday season is upon us! To some, this brings feelings of joy as they think of all the fun to be had celebrating with family and friends. To others, this time of year brings feelings of anxiety as they picture themselves running around in an apron, a home full of relatives, an empty wallet, and a seemingly never-ending to-do list.
Here are a few tips to help you limit your stress level this season:
1. Focus on the Goal
If you are hosting a gathering this season, have an overarching goal in mind for why you are doing it. Is your goal to spend quality time with your family and friends? Get the kids exposure to family members who they don’t often see? To relax and enjoy some time off work?
As you start to get wrapped up in tedious tasks like choosing the right tablecloth, deciding whether to offer gluten-free items on the menu or digging out the special nativity set decoration or turkey shaped napkin holders, remember WHY you are having people over and evaluate if it is necessary.
If your goal is catching up with your cousins from Colorado and enjoying time off while the kids are out of school, does it really matter if there is an assigned seating arrangement at dinner or if you use paper plates instead of fine china? Keep your goal in mind and cut out any unnecessary tasks.
Remember that you are not alone in this endeavor. Do NOT try to be the proverbial “Hostess with the Mostess.” Delegate tasks to your family members and guests and utilize the help you have. There is no need for you to cook and prepare every item on the menu, set the table, clean the house, provide entertainment, clean up after everyone, and stay on your feet all day.
Serve a potluck-style dinner. Tell your guests that you will provide turkey and drinks and assign the rolls, stuffing, potatoes, appetizers, and desserts to someone else. Your guests (typically) want to contribute, so let them! Just make sure you communicate so you don’t end up with four versions of green bean casserole.
Delegate some of the preparation and hosting duties as well. Everyone in the household should participate in the cleaning or decorating beforehand and can be given specific duties on the day of the event. Kids or teens can be in charge of greeting people as they enter, taking their coats and offering them a drink. Assign someone to help Grandma make her plate or get settled in her favorite chair.
Make sure you give yourself some time to enjoy your guests and actually sit down and partake in the festivities.
3. Set your limits and your budget
If you only want to have 10 guests in your home at one time, do not invite all 60 of your distant cousins to the event and then be surprised and flustered when 48 of them show up. Decide on a budget for the event and stick to it! Financial concerns are one of the top stress points during the holiday season.
Decide what you can afford and keep the party costs (food, drinks, decorations, gifts, entertainment) within those boundaries. Focus on the goal, don’t be afraid to delegate, and set your limits to have a more enjoyable (and affordable) holiday season. Your guests can tell if you are worn-out and stressed to the max, so plan to relax and enjoy yourself!