Can you believe the holidays are already almost here? The day after Halloween, and stores are stocking Christmas trees and holiday music is on the radio. You haven’t even had time to take the spiderwebs and pumpkins down, and it is already time to plan for the holidays. Make this year’s holiday stress free when you entertain by remembering a few simple ideas.
Have a plan.
As basic as this sounds, having a plan and writing it down can be the difference between being calm or feeling frazzled during the holidays. Whether you have agreed to host the formal family dinner or a neighborhood cookie exchange, planning it out will make your life much easier. If you are hosting a holiday dinner, make a list of your guests, any food allergies, the menu you want to serve, and the decorations you want to have in place for the day. If you are in charge of a neighborhood cookie exchange or cocktail party, make a list of guests, send out invites, and plan on some fun icebreakers or a White Elephant gift exchange.
Think outside the box.
If the typical holiday party feels too stressful for you, plan something totally different. Keep it simple, but fun. Think about doing candy cane martinis and an ornament exchange. Get a bunch of neighbors together for a wrapping party, where everyone knocks out their gift wrapping over spiked hot chocolate and peppermint bark. Hire neighborhood teens to watch the younger kids so that the parents can all go out for a holiday dinner- no intensive cooking or cleaning involved.
A large part of the stress around the holidays is self-inflicted. We want to make everything perfect, down to the smallest detail. This creates stress, so learn when to ask others for help. Hire a local college kid or teen to help your children create holiday crafts. Buy some amazing cupcakes from the local shop in the neighborhood instead of trying to make your own. Ask your friends to each bring their favorite appetizer to a holiday party or have it catered instead of stressing all day in the kitchen. Hire a local company to put up your lights and decorations rather than risking life and limb to do it yourself- many landscaping companies offer this during the colder months.
Remember old traditions.
Think about what had meaning for you and your family and continue the traditions. Maybe you went to a candlelight service on Christmas Eve and then came back to homemade tamales. Or maybe your favorite memory is of driving around the city looking at Christmas lights with a thermos of hot cocoa. Whatever your favorite traditions were, try and keep them going with your own family. Chances are, these may also be their cherished memories in the future.
Slow down and enjoy the holidays as you entertain. Take the time to really appreciate the time of year and all of the magic moments it brings. Whether you are starting a tradition with neighbors or getting together with old friends, remember to embrace the true meaning of the season. No one will remember if you pulled off that perfect Pinterest decor for your ornament exchange, but they will remember if you were able to connect and enjoy their company. Your family won’t hold it against you if their names aren’t hand carved onto wooden place settings, but they will love it if you can conjure up the recipe for Grandma’s cranberry fluff.
The holidays can be stressful, but you can choose to avoid the stress and truly enjoy each magical moment. Whether you are celebrating your first holiday in your new home or reminiscing about the last few you have enjoyed, have a wonderful and safe holiday!