Oh how we love the holidays! From Halloween to Thanksgiving, Christmas (or Hanukkah) to New Year’s Eve, the festivities are never-ending. For two months solid, diets go out the window, extended family members arrive at your front door, presents must be figured out, bought and wrapped, and the house is lavishly decorated (not to mention cleaned) inside and out.
Phew! If you’re not careful, the stress can overpower the fun during the holiday season. Whether it’s decorations, food preparation or clean-up, here are a few tips for surviving the holidays without losing your mind (much):
The first thing your family or guests (not to mention the ultra-competitive Robertsons next door) will see when they arrive at your house is how festive it looks. Now, there’s no rule as to how much or how little you should decorate your home, but this “how to stay sane” list obviously suggests the bare minimum.
Since the front door and yard is what people will see first, that’s where you want to concentrate the most effort. Gather all the children in the house, bring them out to the front yard, and tell them you’re going to play a game: each kid strikes a pose and the one that holds the pose the longest wins! For extra fun, arrange them in your favorite Nativity scene.
Ok, so maybe that's going a bit far. But you can keep the kids busy with these easy, creative Christmas decoration ideas.
If you like working with Christmas lights on your home's roof, house or yard, here are some great ideas – and they instruct you exactly what kind of lights to purchase:
One of the most important decorations for the inside of the house is mistletoe, but how many people have been trapped underneath this festive leathery-leaved plant with someone who insists on that holiday kiss? Placing the mistletoe on the fireplace mantle is sure to deflect all unwanted smooches.
Check out this gallery of DIY Christmas decorations for your home's interior – they're simple, inexpensive, and you can even get the kids involved.
And forget table settings with expensive cloth napkins and china that you only bring out once a year. Use your regular dishware and cutlery and simply announce that whoever breaks anything will be required to wash, dry and put away all the dishes. But if people are going to break your dishes, it might as well be on a pretty, festive table, right? Here are some lovely ideas for table settings that say "festive".
Bonus Tip: Hire an interior design service.
Murphy’s Law states that when preparing food for a large gathering of people, something will always go wrong. And these days, food prep is even more complex because you have to cater to everyone’s food preferences (gluten-free, gluten-intolerant, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan, wheat-avoidant, brown-rice preferant, alcohol-free, alcoholism....).
An easy way to take care of the dozen food preferences is to ask everyone to bring their favorite Christmas dinner dish. That way, you can prepare a turkey and a few favorite sides, while still ensuring that there is something for everyone. This will also mean spending less time in the kitchen and more time visiting with family and friends – unless, of course, you’re trying to avoid spending time with them….
Bonus Tip: Hire a catering service.
The worst part about cleaning your house from top to bottom and decorating it with beautiful trinkets, ornaments and lights, is that someone will inevitably spill or break something. From wine stains that magically migrate to anything white, to scuff and scrape marks on your newly polished hardwood floor, to clogged sinks and toilets, a spur-of-the-moment clean-up will be required.
Rather than fret over the inevitable when it happens, expect the “unexpected” and prepare for it. From wine spills to grease marks, here is a convenient list of how to clean up any mess with ingredients you likely already have in your home.
Bonus Tip: Hire a cleaning service.