Holiday Hostess Hacks

If it’s falling on you to get everyone together this holiday season, we’re here to help. I know it can feel overwhelming. The questions quickly come: who should we invite to join us and how many can fit in our very average-sized, average-decorated, average-messy home.

We all want festive, meaningful, cozy, and well…perfect.

The more we plan, the more overwhelmed we can become. Our  kids are real kids: there is no way they’ll all sit quietly, chewing with mouths closed, writing or coloring on the DIY placemats at each person’s seat. Our kitchens are real kitchens: the oven cooks unevenly, the dishes are all mismatched.

How are you ever going to host that decorated, delicious, festive, meaningful, cozy meal then…since it can’t ever be perfect?  I can’t. And you won’t either.

Instead of setting out to host the flawless, Pinterest-perfect get together. Just set out to get together.

Simply open your home. Open your heart. Open your oven and your cupboard. Open your kitchen table, dining room table, and even the pop-up rickety card table. Pull a few extra stools and lawn chairs around it.  Then welcome your people in.

Hosting is really not about having it together. It’s more about having people together. The purpose is not to be noted as such a great hostess. The purpose is to bring people together who you care about and who need to be included.

Here’s a list to re-center your focus and help you love your guests well:

1.Make people feel welcome. Extend the invitation. I’m sure your sister knows she’s invited, but what about your elderly neighbor? What about the coworker who mentioned he doesn’t have the funds to travel home this year? What about your child’s classmate who will be with his dad this year and whose mom doesn’t have family close by? Make your home an open place to celebrate the holiday with those you love and those who need a seat around a table. A simple text, phone call, or face to face invite is all it takes to let people know you’ll have the hot cocoa ready when they arrive!

2.Make people feel comfortable. Ask your guests to bring a dish. Even better if they have to finish chopping around your kitchen island and use a plastic serving scoop. Ask the cook why this is the chosen dish. Listen for the story behind the recipes and traditions. Remember that not everyone has the same norm, so have a few holiday festivities to choose from. Turn the football game on in the living room, have a kid-friendly space in the playroom, and set up some group games for after-dinner fun. Oh, and light some candles. Nothing says special like the warm glow of flickering candle light, even if you share a holiday meal on paper plates with the afternoon sun shining in your windows.

3.Encourage people to share their hearts. Initiate conversation around the table. An easy way to do this is to have a question at each person’s seat. Untie Your Story is a set of napkin ties that were made exactly for this! How you get your family and friends talking is up to you, but the effort will be worth it once everyone is sharing.

Now it’s time to focus on the MEANING of the gathering because once you understand how important this is then you will enjoy the day more even if it’s crazy. And you’ll be more alert to memories and traditions you’re cultivating in your home among the hearts of all who came.