Whether it’s overnight or just an afternoon, the family or friend get-togethers in your home can be overwhelming. Living in one of the colder states with likely snow and crazy cold weather, it is nice to have some plans on how to make your day with family fun and keep you – the hostess – in a joyful mood!
Here are some of my best tips to survive holiday hosting:
Prep as much as possible. Start lists. Chop the veggies. Set the table. Make a playlist. Do crazy, over-prepared mama things like store all the things in their serving containers. Whatever will help you sit down, enjoy the family and a cocktail instead of running around like a chicken with your head cut off. Just because you decided to host doesn’t mean you have to miss all the fun.
Outsource as much as possible. How is my house spotless when the family arrives on Thanksgiving? Elvira. I have an amazing cleaning lady that comes and deep cleans after we pick up the chaos that is our mess. I try to schedule her to come as close to the holiday as possible. Makes my life easier and my husband loves a happy wife the day before we have a crowd coming.
Also, consider ordering some pre-made meals from the local shop The Real Good Life or stop by Costco in a pinch. There is something amazing about being able to take a day before or after the chaos and not cook, but still eating something delicious. Keeps me relaxed and in the mood to welcome everyone!
Delegate food. It has become a tradition for Grandma Jan to make the turkey (thank goodness). Oh, and her sweet potatoes with All. The. Marshmallows. There is no way anyone can make mashed potatoes the way Uncle Paco can, so that’s always his job. My sister Julie must make her bacon wrapped jalapenos. What was once out of convenience has become a tradition and now no holiday is complete without everyone doing their part to create the perfect meal. Leaves less for me to worry about, but also keeps everyone sane and able to enjoy the day.
Plan some activities for the kids. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Plan ahead and order some fun age appropriate projects from Oriental Trading. They have everything from Hanukkah to Christmas to straight up winter. Easy things like scratch-off ornaments and kits with stickers and foam pieces. There is something for all ages — make sure you get a few extra. There will always be an adult or two (looking at my sisters here) who would also love to participate in the crafts.
Start some easy traditions. Every Thanksgiving, when the kids are getting restless at the end of the night we always turn to Elf. Nothing makes the whole family smile the way Will Farrell dressed up as an elf singing terribly in a department store can. It always gets us in the mood for the holidays.
Maybe playing in the snow, hanging lights, decorating the tree or singing carols will get your family in the holiday spirit. We always are sure to go to the Christmas Eve services at our church as a family. That is important for us to remember what Christmas is really all about.
Almost every year since I was a kid we all head to the movies on Christmas Day and eat popcorn & candy for lunch. It’s such a fun tradition. When else can you excuse eating all that junk?! We had to be creative when the kids were tiny and the women went to an early movie and the guys saw a stupid movie after the kids were in bed.
As the youngest kids are hitting 3 or 4 it is so fun introducing them to our old traditions. After the movie, we play games until we are hungry for the early dinner! Games are also getting so much more fun as the kids grow! All these traditions are what make the holidays special to me – even now as a mom.
Whatever you decide to do, try to plan moments in the day that will remind you to have fun and enjoy the time with those you love.
Put some of your favorite songs on the playlist. Make (or buy) something you want to eat that day or get to do something you want to do. Even if it just buying an extra bottle of your favorite wine so it doesn’t run out! Sometimes we forget ourselves in the hustle and bustle and focusing on others. It’s what makes us such great moms! But little things can go a long way in allowing us to focus on being together and holding on to our sanity.