Hosting a party for the holidays takes time, but it doesn’t have to be tedious. With ample preparation and a few holiday stress-busting maneuvers prior to the gathering, you can actually enjoy the things you worked so hard to set up, no matter how busy your day to day schedule is!
When my stress level climbs, I turn to several types of mindfulness often practiced in yoga class—and picked up from planning a wedding and running my own small business. Give a few (or all) of the following ideas a try this holiday season to keep both you and your guests as comfortable as you deserve this time of year.
I feel much more confident and prepared to host the annual holiday dinner if I make a list of house-cleaning tasks, what groceries need to be purchased, and for whom we’re purchasing gifts. It’s easy to embellish the work in your mind; seeing it in front of you can keep you focused only on what still needs to be done. There also comes great satisfaction from checking items off your list!
Share the Load
You don’t have to do everything yourself. Ask a friend, family member, or older child to help you mark off each task on the list. They can easily address envelopes, make a run to the post office, or help prepare a relish tray for the holiday meal. It can be difficult for some people to delegate, but a beneficial side effect is extra time spent with those who help.
Take Deep Breaths
Obvious, sure, but even the busiest of us don’t do it enough. If you only have a minute to stop and relax, simply shut your eyes, inhale deeply, and slowly exhale. Repeat two or three times, then get to work again. Focusing on your breath for just a moment can help reduce anxiety and feelings of hurry so you tackle each item effectively.
Schedule Time for Yourself
As you prepare for the party, add a few activities to those lists that are just for you. Sneak in a yoga class. Enjoy a mug of hot cocoa on the porch. Buy a new book and dig into the first three chapters before the party. You’ll feel better, I promise.
Pocket the Perfectionism
Of course you want the day to be memorable, but your dinner table doesn’t have to look like the cover of a home-interior magazine. Be realistic about what you have the time, money, and abilities to do. In the end, everyone is just happy to be together. And the good memories they make won’t necessarily include your centerpiece, anyway!
Set a Daily Mantra
Think of an affirming phrase that makes you feel calm. Let it run in your head throughout the day. For example, “I’m so grateful for what I have, even if I want more,” or “I’m OK with the things that are out of my control.”
Be Part of the Festivities
As a hostess, it’s easy to spend your time running back and forth to the kitchen to get things people need. Instead, sit and enjoy time with your guests. I like to set pitchers of drinks on the table and appetizers on the buffet so they can help themselves.
Prepare Food Ahead of Time
Much of the holiday meal can be made a day or two before the party and stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Try preparing pies (sweet potatoes left over from Thanksgiving make a terrific base), cookies, rolls, cold salads, fruit, and punch all in advance so you’re spending less time in the kitchen when guests are around.
Are you hosting a party this holiday season? How do you stay grounded to reduce holiday stress? Tell me in the comments section below.
Image source: Flickr
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.