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When your family descends on your house for the holidays, it should be a time of joy—but it can also be a time of stress. Still, hosting doesn’t have to drive you crazy. Here are a few tips for hosting friends and family over the holidays—and keeping yourself sane.
Have extra necessities on hand
Before everyone arrives, be sure you have extra toothbrushes, shampoo, enough towels, soap, and other necessities. Stock up on basics like milk and eggs, orange juice, luncheon meats, and breakfast cereals. Having enough for guests to help themselves to smaller meals means you don’t have to cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a crowd.
Hosting family for the holidays doesn’t have to be high-pressure.
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Don’t do it all yourself
Even though you’re the host, that doesn’t mean you have to cook for and clean up after everyone. Instead, assign cooking and meal-planning duties to different people in your group on different nights. If everyone knows their schedule, you won’t be strained to keep chores done and your guests fed every evening.
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Don’t be afraid to draw the line
If you think it would be too much for your sister-in-law to bring her six children or your brother to bring his Doberman pinscher, say so. If you have a full house, it shouldn’t be out of line to suggest that some people—especially larger families—get a hotel room nearby. Being able to draw the line when you need to means that you’ll be less stressed out over the holidays.
Know about food allergies and dietary restrictions
Allergies to different kinds of foods are becoming more and more common—but those aren’t the only dietary restrictions you’ll have to deal with. Maybe your cousin is a vegan or your uncle is on a low-cholesterol diet for his heart, or your sister is trying to keep her kids on a relatively low-sugar diet. Talk to everyone ahead of time to determine what food restrictions there are, and plan menus accordingly.
Get out by yourself once in a while
Sometimes, the most stressful part of hosting is that you don’t get a break. So take some time to give yourself one. Take a walk or a drive, get a manicure, meet a friend for lunch—and let your guests entertain themselves. Don’t be afraid to take some time to yourself while your family is in residence.
It can also be stressful being the tour guide in your town—and organizing activities everyone in the family will love. Instead, be prepared with information and brochures about local attractions—and help family members figure out how to get there on their own if you can’t lend them your car. Letting family members go out and about on their own—and find activities they each enjoy—will take some of the pressure of hosting off you.
Hosting family for the holidays doesn’t have to be high-pressure. The key is to avoid trying to do everything yourself. Enlist your guests’ help in cooking and cleaning, encourage independence when it comes to entertainment—both in and out of the house—and don’t be afraid to draw the line when you have to. If you do, your holiday is likely to be much more stress free—no matter how many people you’re hosting.