I’ve been that woman an hour before the party starts barking orders at my husband.  I’m stressed out and resentful for having a house full of people for a weekday dinner.  When the doorbell rings, I’m full of smiles and hugs on the outside yet still smoldering on the inside about all of the things that went wrong up until the first guest arrived.

Have you been there too?  What I found to take the sting out of any hosting endeavor is to ensure that I take care of ME first.  Self-care is so important for all of us, but it is especially important during the holidays.  You’ve heard the flight attendants tell you to put on your own oxygen mask before you help someone else?  Self-care is the same thing.  Taking care of you ensures that you have enough love for yourself before you try to give it to everyone else.

Here are some tips for you to get the self-care you need before you host your next function:

  • Entertain when it feels good for you: My grandma hosted every holiday dinner at high noon, sharp!  I am happy to allow other people to host all major holiday dinners, knowing I can invite my family over on another day.  Don’t be a martyr if you don’t have to.  Know what works for you, and then stick with it.
  • Ensure your cup is full: What will you do before you host your next big event?  I always get my daily meditation done because it is the biggest stress reliever I have in my toolbox.  Others need to get in a daily walk.  Think of one thing you can do each day that is just for you, and then commit to doing it.
  • Understand why you are entertaining: sometimes we end up with a house full of people out of family obligation.  Maybe it was “your turn.”  These reasons leave us feeling resentful.  Find a way to make entertaining a joyful experience even if it is your turn.  What can you do to make the event yours?
  • Set expectations: the holidays are so much easier when you set expectations for everyone.  Dinner is at 6pm sharp instead of waiting for that person you know is always 30 minutes late.  Maybe each kid only gets two presents instead of 12.  When you set expectations with everyone, it helps to reduce your anxiety level, and it helps for your guests to know what to expect.
  • Set a budget: I have come to realize that Thanksgiving dinner, even if it is the Saturday after Turkey Day, will cost double what I planned.  Part of holiday stress is spending too much on decorations, gifts, wine, and gourmet food.  Avoid some of the stress of entertaining by sticking to a reasonable budget.
  • Have a Checklist: I love a good list.  I will make a to-do list for any situation.  When entertaining, know what you are serving, who will attend, and what can be done the day before, the day of and after the event.  Lists help you stay on task, on budget, and will hopefully keep you from making an extra trip to the store.

As we come upon another holiday season, start planning now.  It’s never too early to have a plan to make your holidays successful and stress free.