The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and celebration with family and friends. But they can also be a great source of stress and especially effective at reactivating old patterns – such as sibling rivalries, grudges and petty jealousies – both within and among families. Here are seven tips for keeping the scales tipped to happiness and joy as you entertain guests during the coming holiday season:
1. Focus on the feelings you create. While people might ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over your beautifully decorated room or exquisitely set table, what they will always remember is how you made them feel in your home. Were they able to relax? Or did they spend the whole time worrying that their children might spill or break something? Did you talk and laugh with your guests? Or did they feel guilty because you slaved alone in the kitchen the whole time or walked around cleaning up after them?
2. Remember ‘effortless perfection’ is a double-edge sword. You might work for hours, days or weeks to create the perfect holiday feast or party – and to make the whole thing appear effortless on your part. But all that effort backfires if it leaves even guest feeling envious or inadequate in their own abilities to keep house, cook, decorate, entertain and so forth. Put your holiday guests more at ease by allowing a few of your own imperfections – or at least your effort – to show just a little.
3. Plan, plan, plan. It’s difficult enough figuring out three meals a day that will satisfy your own family. If you have guests coming to stay, the last thing you need is even more people sitting around trying to decide your next meal or activity. Plan out each meal for the duration of your guests’ stay and be sure to account for dietary restrictions, food tastes and other idiosyncracies. It’s also useful to plan activities (preferably outside your home), especially if your guests are bringing children. Tired/not-bored children are always quieter and better behaved!
4. Be ready to abandon any and all plans at a moment’s notice. Planning meals and activities for your company is great, but no one wants to feel micromanaged on holiday, so be ready to roll with any and all changes your guests might suggest. If they offer to take you out or to cook a meal, accept graciously. Make sure they feel comfortable just going out and doing their own things too.
5. Expect nothing from your guests, but accept all offers of help. Some people worry more than others about the burden they create as guests in your home. If someone offers to bring food, to set your table, run a load of laundry or to help you clean up, assume it’s going to make them feel good and accept graciously. And, unless they ask for specific instructions, let them do it their own way. Resist the urge to fix or redo, even if it’s not the way you would do something. You can always put things back to their usual places after your guests depart.
6. Plan responses to unsolicited advice or otherwise negative remarks from no-filter people. While most of your holiday guests will be positive and appreciative of your hospitality, you may have one or two who don’t seem to have normal politeness filters in place. Consider ahead of time the things they typically comment upon – peoples’ appearances, your children’s behavior, the relative perfection of their own children, and so forth – and prepare a few noncommittal, evasive responses before they ever walk through your door.
7. Tidy and clean lightly before your guests arrive, more heavily after they leave. As keen as we are for clean homes here at MaidPro, if you must choose, put your resources, time and energy into cleaning more heavily after your holiday guests leave. When you focus on creating positive experiences and feelings, your guests will almost never notice those finger smudges on your refrigerator. Make your best plan to restore cleanliness and sanctuary to your home after the holiday invasion is over!