Christmas is just weeks away, and for many people that means a house full of guests (wanted, or unwanted). If you are anything like me, the anxiety of prepping for house guests can really rob you of enjoying the holiday season, but there are some ways to alleviate the stress and actually relish in the gathering of friends and family. Here’s a survival guide you can start working through today to get prepped for your holiday visitors.
Tip #1: Food Prep
Depending on the number of house guests you are expecting this holiday season, making sure that everyone has breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a few days can be really overwhelming. This is the reason why the slow cooker, or Crock Pot, is your best friend. There are slow cooker solutions for overnight breakfast recipes, lunch, or dinner ideas, and you might even find that you have leftovers to roll over to other meals too.
However; while the slow cooker can make the actual food prep easier, of course, not everyone likes the same foods. Make sure you ask around before planning out meals. It makes your guests feel welcome, and takes the stress off of you if you know dietary restrictions, allergies, etc. before getting started on your grocery list. You can even send out “chef cards” to guests to make sure that they have no allergies, but also to let you know their food preferences. This does not mean you have to play 5-star chef 24/7, but it’s nice to have a few things in the house for everyone to be able to enjoy the holidays together. Another idea is to have lots of variety with snacks and drinks. Keurigs or similar single-serve beverage machines are great for offering a variety of drinks for guests.
Tip #2: The Sleeping Situation
Unfortunately, in many homes space is an issue when having house guests. Little Timmy gets bumped to the couch, and Aunt Anne is stuck on an uncomfortable pull-out bed in the basement. A lot of people run out and purchase air mattresses to add beds for guests, but if you are willing to spend a little extra money up front, you might want to consider a futon. It’s compact and can be used well after house guests leave (and of course again for next time!). If you need help making a decision on which sleep solution is the best fit for you, check out a buying guide which makes an excellent resource to cut shopping-around time down, which is very important during the busy holiday season!
You don’t have to make too many sacrifices if you take this route, and you won’t lose house guests either. Another tip is to discuss sleep arrangements with the immediate family AND your house guests well before their arrival. This way you don’t put anyone in an uncomfortable situation and everyone is happy, for the most part.
Tip #3: Relational Run-Through
Just as you look for ways to alleviate tension and uncomfortable situations with your food prep and sleep situations, you’ll also want to be mindful of any “relational” issues that might come up once everyone is under the same roof. Alcohol can fuel the fire too so keep an eye on the eggnog and seating arrangements if you have two people that don’t exact play nice together. However; also remember that it is not your responsibility to make people play nice. All you can control is the environment. Having a little chat with each person before coming over is also a nice gesture, but ultimately it’s up to them as to how they choose to behave.
If you need help on how to approach conflict, there are many resources, but as a general rule it’s helpful to reach out to the person from a posture of helping them rather than one of preventing an embarrassing holiday fight. Get on their side to work through conflict from their perspective, finding out what arrangements would make them feel the most comfortable to avoid any unwanted conflicts. If things still get out of hand, it is your house and you also have a responsibility to the other house guests.
Tip #4: Expectations
While all of these tips can be daunting, it’s all really just ways to prep and reduce stress for when that door bell rings. By taking the time to think through decisions, you can feel more in control. It’s also important to remember that there are some things that are simply going to be out of your control, so try to lower your expectations of yourself and your house guests. It’s the holidays but you are not their cruise ship entertainer. Try to join in on the fun and not just prepping food and cleaning up after everyone.
One great idea is to assign jobs/tasks to your immediate family. For example, at meals you can assign one person to take drink orders while another does the dishes. Delegate tasks to make everyone’s lives easier, and if the expectations your house guests hold of you or your family are too high, try to keep things in perspective and remind them that they are guests in your home and not in a hotel!
Tip #5: Space Savers
You want your house to look nice and festive over the holidays, but you can over do it with the decor. If you have a smaller home, consider space saving tips that allow you to decorate and entertain with ease. Consider space for luggage, space for extra meals in the fridge, extra seating, etc. You don’t necessarily need to go out and purchase new furniture, but you might want to look into some cheap storage solutions like using plastic under-bed storage containers or folding chairs at the dining room table.
And don’t forget personal space too. It’s okay to go about your regular routine while house guests are staying over. In fact, doing so will keep you in a bit more control. If you usually go for a run every morning, just invite your family to join you (if you want to of course!). Personal space is just as important, if not more, as physical space when it comes to surviving the holidays so don’t feel guilty if you don’t stay home 24/7 waiting on everyone’s needs and wants.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=1617654167]