Momma Told Me: Momma's Holiday Survival Guide: It's That Time Again

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Momma's Holiday Survival Guide: It's That Time Again

*** This post was sponsored by Green Choice Carpet. All content below is original, and created by the write for Momma Told Me Blog 2013.
holiday grumpies
Momma Told Me: I hate the holidays.

It was a huge secret, to anyone outside our immediate family, that Momma despised 'the holidays.' Now, to be fair, 'the holidays' classifies a rather large and generic portion of the year, that could be misconstrued as 3-4 months. The fair part would be that Momma equally disliked each and every one of those months. She never cared for the decorating (or especially the cleaning up of the decorations), nor the fuss of family entertaining, or endless checkout lines. I say this was a secret, because us immediate 2 (Pop and I) were really the only two who ever heard her muffled complaints, silent swears, and 'Bah Humbug!'s. To the outside world, Momma was flawless. Her tables had elegant centerpieces, no one was forgotten by cad or gift, and the holiday delicacies were endless. How'd she do it?
Now, I'm sure you're thinking, 'Heavens, Jenna, it's too early to think about the holidays!' Unfortunately, it's a simple fact that the year, itself, will be over in 3 short months; and, each and every one of those months will have a major holiday. So I've comprised some of Momma's Top 10 Holiday Entertaining Survival Tips to help get you motivated for a stress-free and enjoyable holiday season.

Tip #10: It's Never Too Early: As much as we like to roll our eyes when the department stores bust out Halloween decorations in August, the big days always seem to roll around leaving us feeling panicked. I like to chip away with holiday prep, throughout the year, including stocking up on Christmas gifts as sales present themselves, and Pinning recipes for gatherings months in advance. The biggest obstacle to a successful holiday event is a lack of cohesive vision. Pick all of your elements out in advance, so you are less rushed when the time comes.

Tip #9: Clean, everywhere. It may be common sense, but there are simply some things we overlook day-to-day when it comes to maintenance cleaning. How many times have you gone to set your dining table for a family gathering only to realize the fine China, from the cabinet, is in need of a good dust? Obviously, good cleaning habits all year round will cut down on this inconvenience, but be sure to plan a day just for cleaning, whenever hosting a holiday event. A good scrub never hurt anyone, right?

table decor
Tip #8: Book your travel NOW. Whether you're hosting the big holiday event, or attending, be sure to lock in any and all travel details months in advance. I cannot stress enough how important it is to handle this (ideally 5-6 months) in advance. The closer you get towards the holidays the less leniency companies will have with vouchers and sales, and the less selection you or your guests will enjoy. Additionally, most companies offer price adjustments, once reservations are made. While you will have your car rental/plane tickets/hotel room booked, you can always call back to take advantage of a new deal.

Tip #7: Dress your tables. This is actually one of my favorite parts about holiday entertaining. We rarely host guests during the holidays (our home is a bit tiny as of now), but I like to build centerpieces and dining arrangements none the less. having a festive, well groomed, area of your home is important for motivation and inspiration. This is a great place to start 'getting in the mood,' and will also help get the family excited too!

Tip #6: Keep the magic alive. Whether you have kids around or not, there are always a few iconic symbols, scents, or sights that just define the holidays for you. Just because you're an adult doesn't mean you have to hide that Velveteen Rabbit decoration, or skip the gingerbread house. Jay and I carve our own pumpkins, and carefully shellack a cookie home every year, simply because these are the symbols of our holiday memories. They make us happy, and that's really all that matters, no matter one's age.

carrot cake
Tip #5: Don't expect to be perfect. There is no such thing as perfect; that's what I believe. No matter the topic, there will always be some variation (no matter how miniscule) that pleases someone more than another. Whether it's a homemade wreath, your Grandma's cobbler recipe, or a music coordinated light display; expect the unexpected, and embrace the imperfections. The holidays are NOT about grandeur displays and the amount of money spent, but the memories made with those you love. When something doesn't go as expected, take a deep breath, and center yourself!

Tip #4: Proper grooming is for the entire family. During the holidays we often see family and friends we seldom see throughout the year. Appearances are a big priority for most, so don't forget the pets. If fluffy is shedding a bit much consider a bath or light shave. If Fido is walking around with more knots than a Fisherman's Wharf, it's time for a good brushing. You wouldn't let your kids meet the in-laws with kitty litter in their hair, so why should the pets?

Tip #3: Anticipate extra. No matter who you invite to a holiday gathering, you're bound to have extra. Whether it's extra guests, or extra leftovers. Have a game plan for both sides of the fence. Make extra whenever possible, and have disposable 'take home' containers on hand to help shell out the leftovers when the big meal is over. The same goes with gifts. It's always great to wrap 2-3 generic gifts for those unexpected office parties, new neighbors, and last minute invitations.
Tip #2: Serve something sweet. We all have a signature dish, right? No matter the season, be sure to serve your big temptation. Bring that dish that everyone talks about the entire year. Happy mouths mean happy stomachs, and happy stomachs mean less complaints when the turkey runs an extra 2 hours in the oven, or the snow delay keeps guests, well, snowed in.

Tip #1: Let someone else do the dirty work. This one was Momma's biggest secret, and the 'someone else' often fell on me. After all, if you have capable kids, why not use them, right? Remember, Santa WILL be watching! But, it's a simple fact, we can't juggle everything; there is no real Stepford Mom. The people who live on Pinterest, and the very blogs I run and read, are polished examples of ideal life. 'Picture Perfect' is only achieved after plenty of trial and error, hours of photo editing, and a little bit of luck. Leave some of your event's success up to the professionals. Now and then it's worth the extra couple of bucks to have a professional rug cleaner come into your home, instead of relying on Aunt Peggy's secret Vinegar and Acetone cleansing formula. I repeat, not everything on Pinterest is real- before you put that 'secret compound' on your floors, consider hiring a professional to do it for you. Many cleaning businesses will run pre-holiday specials just for that purpose!

What Daughter Says: Don't let the holidays sneak up on you. Practice safe celebration and begin preparing now!


  1. Not expecting to be perfect is very important. No sense in overwhelming yourself so you are so stressed out that you don't enjoy the holidays.

  2. The cleaning part is the thing I hate doing. Our house gets cluttered and utterly demolished within an hour of cleaning, so it's very disheartening when I have company coming over.

  3. You're right. It is never too early to prepare. There have been some years where I was actually DONE holiday shopping by September or October. Then I really could enjoy the holidays :)

  4. I love the animals pictures, they are adorable! I do like Tip #6: Keep the magic alive. All of the tips are very helpful.
    twinkle at optonline dot net

  5. I love the tips. Makes me want to dig in and celebrate the holidays.

  6. I get overwhelmed with work, housework, and the holidays... I'd prefer to just head somewhere warm and where I don't have to lift a finger lol... and just think, they will be here soon! Great tips though!

  7. I actually love the holidays. In fact, I think about them and plan for them all year long and start shopping the day after Christmas!

  8. I do agree with Tip #5: Don't expect to be perfect. We all try our best and most of the time everything turns out great!
    twinkle at optonline dot net

  9. You have shared really good post. I appreciate it.