The holiday season is here and with it comes a lot of cheerfully chaotic family get-togethers. As much as you’re looking forward to bounties of presents and festivities, you should also be ready to handle big crowds and prepare for the unexpected this year. Here are a couple of things to do now and pointers to ensure a stress-free holiday season.
Don’t be a perfectionist. Everyone has an ideal picture in their head for how holiday gatherings are going to go, but don’t be tied down by it. That’s an easy recipe for immediate disappointment and stress. Instead, keep an open mind, embrace any flaws or mishaps that might happen along the way and make the most of it. Cherish the small things and be grateful that you’re surrounded by loved ones.
Clean up the common areas. Organize, declutter and make way for your guests by clearing space in your entryway, living room and lounge areas. Add more coat hooks or shoe racks as needed and stock up on floor cushions or foldable chairs for extra seating. Consider purchasing removable chair covers to protect hard-to-clean furniture from inevitable spills.
Prep as much as possible ahead of time. It’s never too early to get a head start on the homemade dishes you’ll be serving. Buy non-perishable ingredients now and choose dishes that can be at least partially prepped (such as chopping vegetables or marinating meat) if not completely cooked ahead of time and reheated later.
If you have a dedicated dining area for the occasion, go ahead and set the table now. Employ minimalist style techniques to keep decorations sweet and simple this year. Consider placing a few candles and flowers in the middle instead of an ornate centerpiece.
Create different social zones. Having only one room for your guests to hang out in can get stuffy fast. Combat this problem by establishing multiple common areas for guests to mingle around in. Arrange a few chairs and blankets by a fire outdoors and move a drinks or an appetizer cart outside of the kitchen.
Plan an activity for down time. Capitalize on downtime before and after meals to foster togetherness with fun holiday activities. Station s’mores by the firepit and place board games around the house for easy access. For Thanksgiving, you can display a gratitude jar or tree station for guests to share what they’re most thankful for this year. For Hanukkah, set up tables to play the dreidel game, make candles or craft a menorah. During Christmas, organize a DIY ornament- or gingerbread house-making station.
Take mindful breaks for yourself. Focus on your personal well-being and pause from festivities when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Create a serene retreat for yourself, which can be as simple as soft throws piled on your bed, a bathtub filled with epsom salts or a walk outdoors.
Be prepared for overnight guests. As important as it is for you to have a private space of your own, create one of the same for your overnight guests. Stock the area with all necessary bathroom supplies, bedding and a list of important home information (phone numbers, door codes, WiFi passwords, etc). Spend a night there yourself to test it out and ensure your space is well-equipped and comfortable.