I asked Jennifer Scott to be my guest this month. She has experienced anxiety and depression since she was a teenager and has made it her mission to advocate for mental health.
This year, make it a point to put the “happy” back in Happy Holidays by doing all that you can to make your entertaining stress-free. It is especially important to have a stress-free holiday season if you have anxiety or seasonal affective disorder or are a recovering addict looking to maintain your sobriety. No matter your reason for trying to have a more enjoyable holiday, our four tips will help you achieve your goal.
1. Make your plan
The best move you can make to ensure you make it through holiday entertaining with the least stress possible is to be proactive and make a plan. One way to be as prepared as possible is to work with an organizer or blank calendar and plan what you need to do each day before the party. Don’t overlook any task, even if it’s something simple like cleaning off the counter and table, because you don’t want to forget something in the chaos of preparing. Making a plan will also help you remember items such as napkins and ice that often get overlooked.
2. Know your limits
While you may be envisioning a perfect holiday table and meal, crisply wrapped gifts, and lush centerpieces, you need to know your limits and be realistic about your expectations and abilities. If you don’t have time to do it all, don’t attempt to. Use some of these quick tips to help you prepare for your holiday gathering:
- Ask your guests to bring the side dishes, order dessert, and spend your time focusing on appetizers and the main entrée.
- Get a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree to save time stringing lights and cleaning up the mess from the needles and branches.
- Prep food in advance by cooking or baking food that can be frozen. The more food you prepare ahead of time, the more you will be able to spend time with friends and family instead of in the kitchen.
- Make quick and easy centerpieces with boughs and pinecones from outside. Decorate with Christmas ornaments or bells placed inside glass hurricanes or underneath wine glasses that you flip upside down.
- Use gift bags instead of taking the time to wrap presents.
Knowing that nobody expects everything to be perfect can take a huge weight off your shoulders and help you enjoy your time with friends and family.
3. Stock up on appetizers and drinks
You never know if people who did not RSVP will show up anyway, or if your guests will bring along additional people without telling you first. It’s a good idea to stock up on appetizers that have a longer shelf life, such as crackers and cheese, cookies, mixed nuts, salsa, and chips so that you can feed extra guests without feeling stressed.
Having additional drinks on hand also is a smart entertaining trick. If you don’t have enough free refrigerator space and you live in a cooler climate, put drinks outside on a porch or in a garage to cool down naturally. Soda, cider, coffee, cocoa, and tea are beverages you should have an abundance of during the holiday season.
4. Make having fun a priority
When making your lists for food, gifts, and entertaining necessities, don’t forget to include a list for fun. If you plan activities for your holiday gatherings that you are excited about participating in, you’ll be more likely to put down the hostess hat and pick up the party hat. Holiday crafts for the whole family will keep everyone entertained if you are hosting out-of-town family members for a few days. Put the kids in charge of decorating the tree with the homemade ornaments you make to save you some decorating time, too.
If your party is for friends and adults, plan to play some Christmas party games that are sure to get everyone laughing and get you out of the kitchen. You can play some old-fashioned games such as charades or Pin the Red Nose on Rudolph, or you can play some trendy adult games such as Cards Against Humanity and 5 Second Rule.
Reducing your stress during the holidays is important to helping you have a happy, healthy season. Following our four tips will help you not just get through holiday entertaining but truly enjoy it.
Image via Pixabay by StartupStockPhotos