Hosting Christmas Guide
Get your whole home ready in time for the holidays without breaking a sweat!

While the holidays can be a wonderful time, they can also be very stressful. All the organizing, decorating, cooking and cleaning are a lot of work, and as much as we may love doing it, hosting Christmas in your home for family and friends can take its toll if you don't take the time to take care of yourself first and plan accordingly.

It’s easy to start to panic when you're in the middle of the holiday chaos, especially if you've drawn the fun but daunting card of hosting the family meal. However, preparedness and mindfulness are the two secrets to making the holidays not only stress-free, but fun and rewarding. We've put together a guide to planning your holiday hosting duties, whilst staying sane and ahead of the game in doing so.

A Mindful Host is a Good Host

There are long lists of things to do around your home to make it ready for hosting, and trust us, we'll get to those, but when drawing plans together, you'll be no good to anyone if you let the occasion fluster you and overwhelm you. This can make the holiday host start to burn out while preparing, causing mistakes to be made and dominos of chaos to start falling. Before you know it, the kids are being yelled at, people are fighting, the turkey is burned, and Christmas is ruined. So, mindfulness and calmness during holiday preparation isn't just a new-age concept grounded in meditation and inner peace, it's the key to helping Christmas go off without a hitch. Here are our tips for staying mindful during the holidays.

Get Gifts Done Early

Thinking about and shopping for gifts is one of those activities that’s hard to budget time for, because you may find exactly what you’re looking for the moment you step into a store, or it may take a few hours of browsing or travel from store to store.

Make sure you set aside more time than you think you’ll need for all the things on your list that need to get done. That way, you give yourself room to prepare for the actual hosting duties at a more enjoyable pace. Get gifts well out of the way first so you can move on to planning the things that have more predictable time allotments.

Make Lists

No matter how hard you try, you simply can’t keep track in your head of all the things that need to be considered when hosting the holidays.

Lists not only ensure that you don’t end up forgetting something, but also reduce the stress of trying to remember everything constantly. You can use paper or a digital list, whichever suits you. If you're planning to do your shopping with someone else, or you are coordinating tasks with family members, you can use a shared online document to make sure you both know what is still left to buy.

Take Short Breaks

When you get a little overwhelmed with all the tasks, it's good to slow down and just take a break for a little bit. Take a walk, watch a show, drink some water, whatever you need to do to feel better. When you get back to work you'll be able to handle all your tasks easier and with less stress.

Keep Setbacks in Perspective

We all make mistakes, so don't let them get you down. Buy the wrong gift? Just wait and go back to the store when you've got some time. If you mess up a dish for your holiday dinner, just calm down and see if it can be fixed, used for another purpose, or if you have time to make a new one. It's good to start tasks like this early, so there is time to correct mistakes

Remember Why You’re Celebrating

When you get a bit caught up in all the holiday chaos, it's good to remind yourself why you are doing all of this in the first place. It's easy to get focused on stress when the real point is to have fun and enjoy times with the people we love. Try to be grateful for what you have and find joy in the little things. It'll make the big stresses easier to handle.

Find Ways to Give Back

When putting together the holiday dinner, it can be easy to get lost in the world of your family's needs for the big day. Devoting some focus to volunteering time or resources to a charitable organization or people in need can be a great way to mindfully put things in perspective, channel the holiday spirit, and bring calm to your personal situation. No matter how busy and overworked you feel in putting together your hosting duties, always make time for this. You will feel much better for it.

Let People Help

"No, no, no, no! Sit down! Stop doing that!" Recognize this anxious fretting? It's the sound of a host not letting people lighten the load, and while it feels like the best way to approach hosting duties, it's not a good way to approach things during the holidays. When surrounded by family who know and love you, allow them to take on duties if they offer. If people want to cook one of the dishes to bring along to make things easier in your kitchen, allow them to take on that task. People like to give their time to the people they love during the holidays, and in rejecting help, you may actually be dulling their Christmas spirit, accidentally! Take what assistance comes your way, and be thankful for it at that moment, rather than reverting to your host instincts of telling everybody that you can handle it all.

Preparing Your Home for the Holidays:

Home preparation is one of the most important elements of hosting over the holidays. To help with this task, we've created this short video guide. If you would rather read the information, we've also written the steps below.

Make a To-Do List

We mentioned the importance of lists above, and we're checking that point twice! Lists of tasks around the home that need doing are the best possible way to ensure that nothing is missed. Make the lists fun by giving them holiday themes and decorations, and even incentivizing completion with holiday treats. There's lots of work to be done, but there's no reason it can't be a lot of fun at this time of year.

Assign Tasks to Family Members

If you have family around to help, assign them tasks and divide things up thoughtfully to lighten the load. Even kids will gladly take on home-preparation tasks from your list at this time of year. After all, they've got their own Santa Claus "naughty or nice" list to worry about for the next week.

Cut the Clutter

Go room by room and toss everything into three piles: Keep, Discard, Donate

Many charities could make use of your unwanted items during the holidays. Try to sort out all of your things before you start purchasing new stuff for the holidays. This way you'll know what you have and won't buy anything twice.

Ditch the Dust

Before breaking out the decorations, give your home a once-over for dust. Keep a handy vac handy for all those pesky crumbs and pine needles from the tree.

Tackle The Biggest Projects First

Before you get to the little details, it's good to get the big stuff out of the way. The holidays can sneak up on you and you don't want to get held up by a big job you procrastinated on. Remember if you need to hire help for a certain task, it may be more difficult to do late into the holidays.

Prepare the Guest Rooms

You don't want to get stuck doing this right before the guests arrive. Take your time and be sure to stock up on toiletries so your guests are comfortable.

Don't Over-Decorate

Your friends and family come to see you, not your decorations. Don't stress out about having an elaborate ornament arrangement, just do what you have time for. Decorate for what suits your life! Consider any small children or pets before putting out any breakable or hazardous decorations this year.

Food Preparation

So, you've tackled the home preparation for hosting in a calm and mindful way. You've come down to the evening before Christmas, and it's food time. If you've taken our earlier advice, you've already made this time less stressful by allowing the arriving hordes of family to bring a plate with them when they arrive. Those offers of steamed carrots, gravy, and stuffing may have seemed like no big deal at the time, but when it comes to crunch time, you'll be grateful you have the extra stove and oven space, and those fewer things to think about.

It's hard to imagine a traditional holiday meal coming together without a turkey centerpiece, and this frustrating and easily-dried-out bird is our number-one cause for holiday stress! It's big, it's temperamental, it requires hours of planning and forethought, and every single person at the table is going to have their own thoughts about the best way to cook it. Talk about a high-pressure meal!

If you're not used to preparing a turkey it can seem very daunting, especially since it is usually the centerpiece of holiday feasts. If you need a little help knowing what to do, or your information could use a little refresher, please check out our quick guide to turkey cooking infographic here. It takes the guesswork out of things and will allow you to cook your turkey with confidence.

Making the Perfect Turkey

Holiday Clean-Up

The dreaded clean-up is the part of hosting Christmas that nobody wants to talk about. Everybody is full to the point of bursting, there's food and wrapping paper everywhere, and the kids are running around on a high of sugar from dessert and the thousand toys and games they've received and want to test all at the same time. Here are our tips for getting through this torrid time.

Not Everything Needs to be Done at Once

Usually, the holidays result in a few extra days of relaxation before the hustle and bustle of regular life resume. At the very least, things don't need to all be done immediately after the last bite has been swallowed. Calm that instinct that tells you, "We have company, and the place is a pigsty!'. Nobody expects your home to be sparkling clean after 8 adults, 7 children, 3 dogs, and a partridge in a pear tree have torn through it with a combination of action figurines and gravy. Start with the immediate tasks, clearing the table, stacking the dishwasher, and wiping the surfaces, and leave the rest for a time when you feel less full, and the house is less chaotic.

Stain Check

Chocolates, candy canes, wine, and other holiday treats have a habit of leaving their footprints all over your furniture once the dust of the meal has settled. Do a thorough check of all furniture, carpets, and surfaces for these magical memories, and treat them sooner rather than later, as stains are easier to remove when they have had less time to set.

Create Organization and Storage for Next Year

Christmas dinner, and Christmas in general, is full of items that are only really used once a year. From ornaments to themed platters and gravy boats, you'll be cleaning up and encountering many items it's time to pack away for the year. Use this opportunity to get a jump on next year's celebrations. Whether or not you're hosting again the next time around (and let's be frank, you probably deserve a year off!), you'll be happy you put some extra time into making a special holiday box so that next time, your preparations are as easy as picking up from where you left off.

And that's about it! Of course, every family's celebration will be different, but hopefully, this guide will help you get all the basics down so you can stop worrying and start enjoying the holidays. Merry Christmas!