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Hosting Mistakes

If you have decided to host a holiday event in your home this season, whether it be for friends or family, for Christmas Eve or New Year’s Day, chances are you may be feeling a little overwhelmed, stressed, and exhausted. Or, if you are anything like me, you may be asking yourself “what did I get myself into?” Whether you’re planning a sit-down dinner or an open house, holiday hosting can be a tricky endeavor, and territory rife for mistakes. Here’s a rundown of the most common hosting mistakes (for newbies in particular) and how to avoid them.

Opposing Help — You may not like your mother-in-law’s figgy pudding, but if she wants to bring it, by all means, let her. It is better to have more food than you need, than need more food than you have. If your guests offer to bring side dishes, desserts, or even a second ham, let them. It takes those things off of your To-Do list. Same goes for do-gooders who offer to bring chairs, serving platters, a craft activity for the kids. If no one offers, don’t be afraid to delegate. My husband’s aunt emails everyone “categories” to sign up for (e.g., appetizers, beverages, casseroles). That way, the work is spread around. In the spirit of holiday charity, we can all pretend we like each other’s food.

Getting Too Creative — Yes, you may be dying to impress everyone with your latest Pinterest obsession by making snowflake shaped cookies and Rudolph-themed place settings, but this will probably not end well. Stick to the classics, by classics I mean YOUR classics, the dishes, and décor you can’t mess up. Like the old acronym advises — KISS — keep it simple, stupid. The only time in the history of ever that doing something “innovative” worked for a Christmas party was when I “invented” a by punch mixing eggnog and sake (Nog-a-sake).

Not Having a Plan — A veteran hostess knows that, for the really big shindigs, you have to start prepping a few days beforehand. It’s virtually impossible to get it all done in one go, especially on the day of your event. So, make a plan and a schedule. Your timeline should include when you’ll clean your house, when you’ll shop for ingredients, what dishes you can make ahead of time, and when you’ll set the table. This way you won’t be a harried mess and can hopefully have a chance to celebrate with your guests.

Not Having Activities — Every family and friend group is different, but you need more than just food and drinks to have a successful gathering. A deck of cards, board games, sing-a-longs, watching “A Christmas Story”, the aforementioned craft project for kids — one or all of these activities can be part of your festivities. For my family, Setback is always a crowd pleaser, as is my cousin’s banjo playing, just not at the same time. If you’re unsure of what type of party game to have on hand, delegate that to a guest. And don’t discourage people from finding their own entertainment. There will always be that group trying to find the game on your TV. Let television help you, just make sure it’s not too loud or distracting for people who are occupied with another activity. If you have children at your party, have something for them to do. Hopefully, that something can be contained to a room with few-to-no breakables.

Chaotic Clean Up — You will likely be a bit frazzled and tired by the time your last guest heads out, but that doesn’t mean what’s left is a huge mess. Like prepping, you can also make a plan for cleaning. First, have clearly labeled/designated trashcans and recycling for your guests to clean up after themselves. Feel free to clean “as you go” when making food and throughout the party. There’s no harm in washing a few dishes or wiping down the bathroom sink during the festivities. Also, enlist help, “Hey Husband/Mom/Sister/Aunt/Brother, can you please you clear the table/sweep off the steps/pick up the wrapping paper.” They’re your family; you know who is helpful and who isn’t. And don’t feel you need to make everything spotless before hitting the hay. Some clean-up can wait until the next day. Believe me, Santa won’t put you on the naughty list for leaving the kitchen floor un-mopped.

Here’s to hassle-free, fun-filled holiday festivities for all — especially for the hostess!

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