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?
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?
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.
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 #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!