Few events cause as much holiday stress as hosting and entertaining. It’s important to plan, prep, and make time to indulge in your own serenity. While parties and cocktail hours can be loads of fun, putting on one of your own can be daunting. You’re likely to feel the pressure of holiday entertaining, from décor to hors d’oeuvres, which can draw the joy and relaxation right out of you by the time the party starts. Luckily, we have some tips for managing holiday stress when you’re the one hosting the fun.
Saving time for you and yours
Hosting a holiday party or dinner can feel incredibly stressful. You might want to impress your guests with a smorgasbord of homemade specialties, cater to dietary restrictions, mix the perfect craft cocktails, and keep the buzz of conversation and laughter going nonstop. But these are all pressures that lead to a stressful holiday celebration you likely won’t get to enjoy yourself or with your loved ones.
The best strategies for overcoming the stress of holiday entertaining range from meticulous planning to (literally) phoning it in to your favorite bakery. Taking any one of these steps will reduce your preparation time, giving you back precious minutes to share memories and laughs with the people who mean the most to you.
- Involve friends and family. Have ambitious plans but limited time? Recruit your friends or family to help out with holiday baking or make-ahead appetizers. It also makes a great time for catching up and sharing stories.
- Mix self-serve cocktails. Make a winter sangria to serve in a punch bowl, or mulled wine topped with brandy in the slow cooker. This will free up time for you to mingle with your guests instead of tending the bar.
- Put together no-cook appetizers. Who doesn’t love a beautiful cheeseboard? Use your skills assembling cheese, charcuterie, fruit, and nuts beautifully on a decorative board instead of labor-intensive canapes.
- Phone your favorite bakery. Don’t let the stress get to you when it comes to dessert. You’veworked hard on your gathering—leave the sweets to the experts! Many gorgeous, unique, and international holiday treats become available this time of year.
- Get dressed and ready together. Styling your hair and perfecting your makeup with friends creates a special bonding time that’s relaxing and fun. You can exchange tips and tricks for looking your best—and don’t forget a dab of hope perfume to finish off your looks!
The holidays should be about time with loved ones, not the perfect pastry or the most stunning spread. Your friends and family aren’t there to inspect your pie crust or side-eye the centerpiece—they’re there to spend quality time with you, exchange gifts, tell stories, and reconnect.
Managing holiday stress at home
The winter holidays usher in shorter days and longer nights, but there are many ways to overcome seasonal doldrums with inspiring, comforting décor. Taking advantage of sunlight, however fleeting, can be a wonderful way to inspire hope during the holiday season. Natural light can improve mood, create warmth, and foster a sense of openness. “Light and love inspire joy in my home,” says Hope Fragrances founder Audrey Gruss.
If your space doesn’t have an abundance of natural light, adding warm artificial light can brighten things up and get your rooms ready for holiday entertaining. Nothing sets a holiday mood like twinkle lights across the ceiling or café lights hanging from beam to beam. Warm tones like yellow and orange, even in one small accent piece, can make a world of difference in rooms furnished in mostly neutral hues of brown, gray, white, and ivory. “When I walk into a well-lit room I immediately feel uplifted,” says Gruss.
“Love is the other aspect that puts the finishing touches in a room,” says Gruss. “Every decorative piece of furniture was lovingly chosen for its aesthetics and comfort. When I was choosing the seating in my living room, I would envision making plans for an upcoming trip with a dear friend over a glass of wine. And when I was choosing the rug, I would imagine my toddling grand-child taking some of his first tentative steps.”
Take care of yourself
The holidays can be as stressful as they are beautiful. While sometimes it may feel as if socializing and entertaining is the most important aspect of the season, spending time relaxing and treating yourself should always be at the top of your list. “Find time for yourself,” says Gruss, “After a long day of cooking and entertaining, I light a scented candle and relax with a foot bath followed by my favorite body cream.”
Whether it’s getting a massage, going on a hike with family, reading a book, or curling up to watch a classic holiday movie, carving out time for yourself is the one and only “must” this holiday season. A personal getaway can be as simple as drawing a warm bath or finding time for a cozy power nap. Whatever relaxes and recharges you, you’ll find holiday entertaining more rewarding if you get the chance to enjoy it yourself.