As the official start of the holiday season draws near (T-minus one week until Thanksgiving!), most folks are busy making their annual plans. If your family's on deck for hosting for this year, then it may feel like the pressure is on. That's fair. The holidays can certainly be stressful, but they don't have to be that way! All you need a solid game-plan and you'll be on the right path for a smooth season of celebrating.
To get your logistical juices flowing, we've compiled a list of our top tips for creating seamless holiday gatherings. Armed with these ideas, you'll be ready to host a magnificent and memorable meal!
Start Early. The longer you wait to start planning the worse you will feel. Give yourself the advantages of ample time and a clear head; they both work wonders! If the task still looms too large, break it up into smaller pieces. Create different categories of jobs that will need to be accomplished. Potential lists might include headings such as house cleaning, grocery shopping, guests, and a general timeline.
Delegate the Details. Never underestimate the brilliance of delegating. You will never know who's willing to help you out until you ask! Farm out a few of the day's details to people you trust. Whether that may be bringing side dishes, ordering a turkey, inviting the guest list, or watching the kids; ask for help! People are always happy to pitch in at big family gatherings, let them show their appreciation.
Provide Expectations. Another huge way to save yourself unnecessary stress is by setting clear expectations. Are you planning to host a sit-down dinner or an informal buffet? Will kid-friendly options be available? Are last-minute guests welcome? All of these scenarios could trip you up and cause major event hiccups. We know you're not a mind reader, but do your best to inform your guest of your expectations up front. It will be easier on everyone involved in the end!
Set the Tone. More than anyone else you, the host, set the tone of your holiday gathering. If you feel overwhelmed and crabby people will pick up on it. If you aren't welcoming or obsess over what's going wrong, people will notice it. We're not saying you have to be perfect - no one is! However, we would suggest taking some time to think about what sort of mood you want to create. Consider what elements might help put you and your guests at ease. Put together a playlist of pleasant holiday music. Light your favorite scented candles. Fill your living room with plenty of cozy pillows and blankets. Above all, though? Demonstrate through your behavior that even if things don't go according to plan, what matters most is that you're all together.
Recruit a Clean-up Crew. Last but certainly not least, absolutely recruit a crew to handle the cleanup. After a busy day of cooking and hosting, the last thing you need to tackle is a massive pile of dirty dishes. As we said earlier, delegate, recruit help early! Don't wait until the end of the evening to find willing volunteers, ask them well in advance. Or better yet, sweeten the deal by offering extra allowance or smaller rewards to get the kids to pitch in! The bottom line? Give yourself space to decompress at the end of the day, enjoy a glass of wine and put up your feet, let someone else handle tidying up.