While the holidays are a wonderful time for the four fabulous F's - fun, friends, family and food let's all be real for a second. Christmas has turned into a huge, often stress filled, 'event' and takes a small army to plan and execute. Presents need to be bought, flights may need to be booked, guest rooms organized, food prepped and your house cleaned and decorated within an inch of its life.
Or does it?
Just thinking of all the prep work that the holidays entail gets me feeling stressed and rather Grinchy.
So I've come up with some tips to decrease or even defeat the stress to make this holiday fun for everyone!
1. Accept and/or assign food dishes for family members to bring.
- Even though you're hosting supper it doesn't mean you have to cook it all! It takes about two hours to eat a big Christmas feast but hours and even days of prep work ahead of time to pull it all off. Most people have one dish they're good at so let them bring it. And don't forget to enlist your kids! If your kids can handle texting or video game controllers they can help make cookies, peel potatoes or set the table. If someone offers to bake or buy some pies LET THEM!
- The holidays are all about family so that automatically means a little ca-razy drama and chaos will ensue. With my extended family of 19 (including 10 kids), plus a few extras and four dogs racing around there is not a lot of peace to be had per se but there's a whole lot of noise, laughs and food! People are there to see you, not rate the cleanliness of your house or whether there are *gasp!* two green sparkly balls beside each other on your tree - oh the horror!! Expecting the crazy makes it a little less scary when it happens.
3. Let go of perfection.
- A perfectly clean house is great (and practically impossible) but so is not losing your ever loving mind right before guests arrive. The holidays are meant to be fun for everyone ... yes, even Mom. Will people pat you on the back because you spent two hours engraving personalized name cards out of paper you made yourself? Um, probably not. Will they wax poetic about your perfectly washed floors and lack of dust bunnies? Nope again!
The way I see it you have four options in regards to the cleanliness of your house.
- Get stressed out over the fingerprints, mismatched hand towels in the powder room and toys in the family room etc (not the preferred option).
- Enlist your spouse and kids to help to clean the house (even wee ones can put away toys and spouses have been known to clean a window. I know my guy does a better job than yours truly)
- Have a 'good enough' attitude and do your best (and possibly drink enough wine so you don't hear a family member make snide comments about the dust on your buffet or the spots on your stainless fridge). Do an Elsa and let ... it ... go.
- Hire someone to come in and clean a few days before to do the deep cleaning - the floors, bathrooms and windows etc. That way all you have to do is a quick touch up the day before. You save your valuable time, you know the job will be done with your high standards and all you have to do is look forward to spending time with your family.
4. Make gift giving easier and less stressful.
- Buy for less people. Set up a gift exchange. Limit gifts to children after a certain age (we do age 15 as the last year for gifts from Aunts and Uncles). Or give to charities as a group donation instead of individual gifts. Many of us don't 'need' another pair of PJs or gift card to The Gap. Keeping our patience and sanity is the gift that keeps on giving.
- Shop on-line. You can shop at 2am in your jammies, y'all!! No traipsing around the mall muttering curses at people who cut you off making you wonder if you have worn your invisibility cloak to the mall. 'I'm WALKING HERE!!'
- Use an app to keep track of gifts - gift ideas, what you've bought and what you've already wrapped and have under the tree. I've been using the app The Christmas List for years now. Keeps me organized and I can archive past years to make sure I don't give the same gift again.
5. Save a tree.
- Send out a Christmas email instead of 100 hand written cards or better yet, give people a call to catch up!
6. Keep your to-do list to a minimum.
- Does every place setting need a hand carved wooden replica of Rudolph? No. Do you need individual place cards engraved with everyone's names? No, you are not Martha Stewart and no one expects you to be.