Guest Blog by Rose Morrison
It’s that time of year, the holidays. If it’s your turn to host, you may be feeling a bit anxious. What should you serve? Where will everyone stay? Most importantly, how can you ensure everybody has a good time?
First, take a deep breath. Making memories with loved ones is the most important factor — all the rest are details you can manage with a touch of organization. Here’s your guide to hosting family for the holidays.
1. Make the Most of Available Space
Your two siblings each have three children, and they RSVP yes. What can you do if they’re coming from out of town and you only have a two-bedroom home?
It’s time to get creative with available space. Do you also have little ones of similar ages? Most children adore building forts and playing sleepover — why not get creative by pushing furniture aside and making room for plenty of extra pillows and blankets in your kids’ bedroom?
Try creating a bedroom out of an under-utilized space. Older teenagers might appreciate the privacy a garage or home office could provide. Can you temporarily convert your man cave or exercise space for this purpose?
If you’re truly space-challenged, why not consider renting an RV for their stay? Your extended family might prefer the convenience of a miniature home on wheels. Just don’t let them recreate Cousin Eddie’s famous morning scene from “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation!”
2. Plan an Inclusive Menu
Do you want a formal dinner party or a casual grab-and-go buffet where everyone contributes something? Much of your decision hinges on your family traditions.
Whatever you decide, you should include something for every taste and dietary restriction on your menu. Lifestyles change from year to year, and previously undiscovered allergies can make your guests shun dishes they formerly loved. It’s a great idea to include a section for food preferences in your invitations or ask for input when planning your menu.
What if you have several family members with different dietary restrictions? Look for dishes that do double duty, such as the recipes below:
Autumn harvest kale salad: Appropriate for vegans and low-carb paleo or keto dieters.
Stuffed delicata squash with quinoa, cranberry and pistachio: Perfect for vegans, vegetarians, dairy-free and grain-free folks.
Five-ingredient dark chocolate macaroons: Ideal for vegetarians and those with nut allergies.
3. Include Accessibility Considerations
How will grandma ascend your steep, icy driveway without risking injury? Thoughtful hosts pull their car out of the garage to give her a safe place to park and navigate.
If you have older family members or those with disabilities on your guest list, include accessibility considerations in your planning. Doing so will increase their chances of attending and saying yes to future events.
You might not have the time or budget to install grab bars in every bathroom, but there are small steps you can take to make your home more accessible:
Clear a path: Ensure you have adequate space between furniture to allow those with mobility devices to navigate comfortably.
Light it up: Adequate lighting helps people with visual disturbances navigate. Use those holiday lights to your advantage, creating a path to restrooms at night.
Provide support: You might not want to mount permanent fixtures, but a strategically placed end table or other support can help those with mobility devices use the facilities.
4. Take Care of the Youngest Family Members
The holidays can be a magical time for little ones, but they also need to stay safe. Plus, their harried parents probably appreciate any help they can get.
Why not create a rotating supervisory schedule in advance? If each responsible family member takes turns as primary tot monitor, everyone can relax and enjoy adult conversation.
If you are willing to spend a bit more cash, hiring a sitter will have the busiest parents in attendance weeping with gratitude. Maybe you can’t afford one for the entire evening — but could you swing an hour or two?
5. Remember Your Furry Loved Ones
You wouldn’t dream of propping your front door open — your beloved pet might escape!However, your guests may not share the same concern for your furry family members or recognize the dangers if they’re pet-free. Furthermore, some attendees might shy away from your 80-pound Rottweiler, even if he is a gentle giant.
Ensure your pets have a safe place to relax during the festivities, free from the possibility of an escape. You might consider having a dog area in the garage — if so, include plenty of warm bedding in the interior and let them play while you socialize. Kitties often despise noisy events. Do you have a small, quiet bedroom and a “Do Not Disturb” sign? If not, you might consider a boarding facility for a night or two. It costs far less than the heartbreak of losing a beloved pet.
6. Minimize Your Cleanup Headaches
Cleanup is the worst part of hosting — but it need not be painful. A little planning beforehand can spare you headaches.
Every family has someone who leaves a trail of bottles and cans everywhere they go. Set recycling bins around areas where people typically gather to socialize, not only in the kitchen. If your family is the type where everyone pitches in to help with necessary chores, consider asking them to check if the bags need replacement — it gives them a gentle hint without shaming or pointing out past messy behavior.
Dishes can be a nightmare of stuck-on grease. Instead of rushing from the table to the kitchen, create a soaking station with a large plastic tub and warm, soapy water. The gunk will dissolve, making the wash, rinse and dry steps a snap.