It’s here. The holidays are upon us, and some of you have already begun celebrating with lavish parties, meals, and gifts.
For the host or hostess, holiday gatherings can sometimes be overwhelming. We’ve put together a last minute list of survival tips to help even the most organized, experienced hosts. If you’re not hosting this year, tuck these ideas away for your next big event!
Holiday Survival Tips for the Host & Hostess
1. Decorate with nature.
Throw together a last minute table centerpiece that will look organic and welcoming. Bring the outdoors in! Use pine cones and fir snips from your yard. Tie with a thick ribbon and use to dress up your dinner table, buffet table, or the drink station. (Just be sure to shake the critters out of your pine branches before bringing them in.)
2. Don’t leave anyone out.
Have an extra gift wrapped that anyone might like. It will come in handy if an unexpected guest shows up for a holiday celebration, or even worse, you forget about a loved one. Wrap up a great selection of nuts, a fun game, or some (gender neutral) herbal bath salts. If the gift still remains at the end of the night, you’ll have one more gift for yourself!
3. Keep guests entertained while you’re busy.
Plan something for guests to do while you’re busy finishing up in the kitchen. If you’re really smart, you’ll think of something they can do that is entertaining AND saves you some work. Set up a cookie decorating station where guests can put the finishing touches on the dessert they’ll be eating later. Print off directions for creative napkin folding and give guests a chance to talk and laugh while they decorate the table with their creations.
4. Think of something for the kiddos.
Kids are so much fun to have at gatherings, but if they get impatient, hungry, and cranky, the fun is over. Set up an area where kids can work on paper chain decorations, color holiday pictures, or put together puzzles. If they’re old enough for scissors, paper snowflakes can keep kids busy for a long time. When I was young, the kids were always sent to the basement to come up with a holiday-themed song, skit, or dance we would perform later for the adults. We loved using our creativity to produce a great show, and it kept us busy for a large chunk of time.
5. Stretch your beverages.
Keep thirsty guests happy by keeping glasses full. Keep a few bottles of unflavored seltzer water on hand to stretch your holiday beverages and save money. Add the seltzer to punch, juices, or even cocktails for some festive fizz. Uncle Joe will be thankful you’re not sending him out in the middle of the party to replenish the beverage supply.
6. Be resourceful if you run out of wrapping paper.
Remember that you can use many up-cycled items to wrap gifts. Brown paper bags, fabric tied up with a pretty bow, or scraps of paper woven together can create a unique look for a wrapped gift. Running out of wrapping paper is no reason to panic. Resist driving to the store for more when you can shop your own house for several materials that will look much better under the tree.
7. Make sure you get out of the kitchen.
Don’t forget about yourself. The holidays won’t be as enjoyable if you’re too busy to take in all the special little moments your family is creating together. Delegate responsibilities to anyone who steps foot in the kitchen, nominate someone else to do dishes, and put your feet up for a minute while you enjoy the company of others.
8. Walk off your meal.
After the big holiday meal, round up a crowd and head outdoors for some fresh air. Walk the neighborhood enjoying the holiday lights, sing carols at nearby houses, or just breathe in the air and stretch your legs. The fresh air will help rejuvenate guests and stave off the food-induced napping. (The clean-up crew you nominated might want to stay behind and get a jump on the dishes while the house is quiet!)
9. Give yourself permission to NOT do everything from scratch.
Although this is a DIY website, we always try to encourage readers to do only what they can without overwhelming themselves. The holidays usually bring a million little tasks…some of which can be very time-consuming. Make sure to save time for friends and family, and go ahead and purchase things if you need to. It’s not cheating; it’s saving time for more important things.
These simple tips might just save you some time, help you relax, or spark an idea that adds a festive touch to your already-fabulous gathering. We wish you and your family all the blessings and joy of this wonderful holiday season!