Stress Less During the Holidays

Feel less stressed hosting get togethers during this holiday season

Hosting family and friends during the holidays can be overwhelming.  You want to get everything just right, from the finger foods to the decorations. You also want everyone to have a great time, including you, and it can be stressful.


You’re not alone.  If you find you’re stressed about hosting your event, you have plenty of company.  According to studies cited by Zester Daily, one in eight hosts experiences anxiety relating to throwing a party, ranging from a deer-in-headlights-freeze at the helm of the stove, to sensory overload, to actually feeling sick about it.  Sixty-one percent even said it’s worse than a first date or job interview.  Here is how to throw a successful holiday gathering without feeling stressed.

Your attitude is the key. It’s important to set aside your expectation for a “perfect” party.  Maintain the mindset of offering home cooking, not that of a chef or caterer.  Do some research on the internet for ideas.  You can find great recipes, decorating suggestions and party tips on websites like Pinterest. 

Anticipate. Prepare for your event by doing tasks ahead, like purchasing flowers a couple days in advance and ensuring you have enough table settings.  Plan your menu and decorations, rather than trying to throw them together right before the party. 

Simplify. Don’t try to put together elaborate foods, especially if you are new to hosting events.  You can even make the meal a potluck, asking guests to bring sides while you provide the main course.  It can help to keep your guest list on the smaller side, too, and some experts recommend steering clear of guests who make you especially nervous.  Bottom line: aim for less food to make and less table settings so you’ll be less overwhelmed. 

Dietary restrictions. Many people are on special diets these days, whether due to health concerns, personal beliefs or cultural heritage.  If your guest list includes someone needing special considerations, The Washington Post suggests asking that person to provide a dish.  Even if it’s not a potluck, you ensure your guest has something agreeable on the menu.  Another idea from experts is to make it clear what is in your dishes. You can either offer an explanation like, “We stayed away from animal products in all of the vegetable dishes,” or if you’re serving buffet-style have a section that’s vegan, signified with a placard.

Roll with it. If something comes up to alter your plans a bit, adapt your plans.  For instance if you arranged a party on the patio and the weather isn’t agreeable, just move it inside.  Grab a folding table and a few chairs to make extra seating for unexpected guests.  If you wanted a berry cobbler but can’t find fresh berries at the grocery, change to an apple cobbler. 

Savor.  The pros at Kitchn explain that one of the keys to a successful party is relaxing and allowing your event to unfold without rushing.  Take time to enjoy your food and spend time with your guests, especially after the meal.  Let everyone participate in some downtime chatting together, and leave cleaning up for the next morning. 

The day after. Prepare enough food for your party to be able to take the next day off from cooking.  You can enjoy the leftovers and savor the success of your event. 

Celebrate!  Following the guidelines outlined here will help you and your guests have a wonderful time.  Let go of your notions about a “perfect” party and keep things simple.  Anticipate what you can control and roll with the things you can’t.  Savor the event and time with your friends and family.  Your holiday party will be a smashing success!

Author: Jennifer Scott