Ok, so this year is your turn to host the Christmas party at home? Don’t fret, the 3 tips below will ensure you can have your Christmas cake (or Buche de Noel) and eat it too, well I mean entertain your guests while enjoying a stress-free Christmas too.
Make space for Christmas
Even if you’re holding a small gathering, the space will look more crowded than usual once you’ve put up the Christmas tree and decorations, and filled your home with food and presents. So it’s always a good idea to do some decluttering beforehand. Your home will look more inviting too if it’s free of clutter.
I said stress-free Christmas, so don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be a drastic purge, just a quick-and-dirty decluttering exercise. Go through your home, one room at a time, and get rid of the items that are a no-brainer for you to part with: the old magazines and newspapers, the expired food and cosmetics, the faded/stained/torn clothes, the stuff that you don’t use, the stuff that you don’t like, the stuff that doesn’t belong to you, etc.
The only category you may want to be a bit more ruthless with is your children’s toys. British research found that the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily (The Telegraph). So let go of the ones that are damaged, missing critical parts, or that your children have outgrown unless you want to pass them on to a younger sibling at some stage. Involve your children in the process and ask them to keep only their favourites. It’s a good opportunity to explain to them that there are children who are not as fortunate as they are and who would be very happy to get a second-hand toy.
Think of giving not as a duty but as a privilege. John D. Rockefeller Jr.
When you take your decorations out, check whether they are in good condition. In particular, check the Christmas tree lights before putting them on the tree. See whether they can be fixed. Otherwise, get rid of them. Make a list of items that need to be replaced. Get rid also of the ones you no longer like. Go through the same process when you take the decorations down.
Turn yourself into a chef
I don’t mean for you to go and take a culinary course unless it’s a passion of yours of course! In fact, I would rather recommend you play it safe on Christmas day. Last year I decided to experiment with a new Turkey recipe with citrus fruits. I had to spend a lot of time in the kitchen adjusting the temperature and cooking time and was feeling quite stressed about the outcome. It turned out well in the end, but my time would have been better spent in the living room with my relatives whom I only see once a year.
So what I mean for you to do is to actually act like a chef:
- Plan all your meals ahead, including breakfast if you have guests sleeping over
- Make not one but two grocery lists: one for non-perishable items, one for perishable ones
- Buy and stock up the non-perishable items early. It’ll be easier to make them fit in your cupboards if you have decluttered your pantry first.
- Pre-order the items that are likely to be popular at Christmas. You don’t want to be left with turkeys twice or three times the size you need for your party.
- Buy the perishable items a few days before
- Start prepping as much food as you can on the days that lead to the party: baking and freezing cakes, chopping vegetables, etc. Again make sure you have adequate space in your fridge and freezer beforehand.
“Know your numbers”
Once you know how many guests you’ll have to host, make sure you have everything you need including beds and bedding, seats, tableware etc. Explore borrowing and renting options, instead of buying stuff you only very occasionally use.
As far as presents are concerned, make a list and set a budget for each person you are planning to give a present to. If you struggle with ideas, ask for wish lists. Think of vouchers and experiences in case your guests have limited place in their suitcases.
Wishing you a stress free Christmas! You can never be too early for that, right?