A Guide to Simple, Stress-Free Holiday Entertaining
A Guest Post by Jennifer Scott
The holidays should be about enjoying spending time with friends and families while celebrating the magic of the season. But, if it feels more like you're running a marathon to get ready and having a root canal would be less stressful, you need to take a deep breath and follow this guide to stress-free holiday entertaining. We can't guarantee everything about your holidays will run smoothly, but we can help you simplify the season so you can enjoy it more.
Trim Your Guest List
One of the easiest ways to ensure a simpler, more stress-free holiday is to trim your guest list. If you're planning to invite everyone you know, you are asking too much of yourself. It's too difficult to please everyone, prepare enough food, make enough drinks, and plan enough parking and seating when you pack your home for your holiday party. Be choosy about your invitees and consider the type of party and fun you want to have. That will help you choose music, games, drinks and food, too. If you're worried about co-workers or friends feeling left out, plan a get-together at a local coffee shop or restaurant so you can still enjoy one another's company without having to hold more than one event.
Stick to Your List
To keep stress at bay, be proactive and make a list while planning. Divide the list into categories that work best for you; consider including food, drinks, decor, cleaning, and supplies. Once your list is complete, prioritize tasks and delegate as needed. Stick to your list and use it as a checklist as you prepare for your gathering to make sure you don't overlook anything that needs to be done for your holiday party.
Call a Caterer
If you need to host a large holiday party, give yourself permission to ask for help. You may want to handle all of the cleaning and decorating yourself, especially if you have kids that love to help because it's a tradition, but you don't have to cook a gourmet meal or make killer appetizers if you simply don't have the time. Hiring a caterer is one way to simplify holiday entertaining. You may have ideas in mind, or you can work with the caterer to design the menu you want. Be sure to sample the caterer's food and check references before taking the plunge.
Keep Decorations Simple and Use Items You Have
Rather than spending a ton of time and money decorating for your holiday event, keep things as simple as possible by using items you have. Simple, elegant decorations are easier to make and hand and will make your home less cluttered. For example, rather than hang a bulky garland on your stair railing, use clips, clothesline, or ribbon to string holiday cards from friends and family members. Use colorful glass ornaments and votive holders to decorate a windowsill, end table, or coffee table. Add boughs from your Christmas tree or pinecones from your yard if you want to soften the look. Decorate with neatly wrapped gifts on tables throughout your home. Use smaller gifts as place card holders on your dining room table.
Plan a Cookie Swap
One of the most time-consuming and stressful tasks of the holiday season is completing all of the baking, especially if each member of your family has a different favorite flavor. Plan a cookie swap with friends and family members. If you are hosting a large gathering, consider asking a friend to host the cookie party and offer to help make invitations to share the load. No matter where the cookie swap is held, keep it casual and low-key to reduce stress. Coordinate flavors and make sure everyone knows exactly how many to bring so that everyone leaves with an equal share. The cookie swap may take some time to plan, but it will be well worth it if it saves you from spending hours baking each type of cookie in your own home alone. One final tip: Hold the cookie swap at least a week before your large event so that you will have plenty of time to prepare for your gathering while knowing that at least your desserts will be ready for the big party.
You can have a simple, stress-free holiday if you allow yourself time to plan and prepare and take some easier roads. Keep in mind that the most important part of the season is enjoying your time with loved ones, and ask for help when you need it.
Jennifer Scott is an advocate for opening up about mental health. With SpritFinder, Ms. Scott offers a forum where those living with anxiety and depression can discuss their experiences.