The five secrets to keeping calm when hosting Christmas dinner.
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And today, following some requests from our loyal readers who are supposed to be hosting the Christmas dinner for their families, we will present to you the essential principles that will help you host the holiday dinner without losing your sanity while doing so.
It is well-known that the holiday season is not an easy time for many families, and many of them tend to fight over holiday-related gatherings.
The reasons for these intrigues are multiple and quite intuitive and simple to understand.
Starting with unnecessary comments from a cranky aunt regarding the marital status of her second cousin, through a long-standing grudge competition that prevails between certain family members, and ending with the pressure to get everything done in terms of the quality of the food and the various hospitality elements of the holiday meal. And don't even get us started on the tensions between wife and mother-in-law.
All these and more are like a bubble waiting to explode. And the holiday dinner table is the battleground.
As most of you probably know, the reasons add up to a lot more than the examples we gave. And more than that, they can be different from one person to another.
And at the end of the day, we see more and more family difficulties arising following the holiday dinners.
In this article, we will explain how you can host the holiday dinner, keep your sanity, and, more importantly, maintain healthy and loving family relationships.
And as always, at the end of the article, there will be a refreshing infographic presentation to summarize its content for you.
1. Take a deep breath.
Abraham Lincoln was quoted as saying, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. "
To stay sane when hosting Christmas dinner, first and foremost, you need to be as prepared as possible. And by saying "prepared," we mean mental preparation. And you can do this using several tools, the first of which is self-awareness.
Studies suggest that self-awareness is one of the most powerful tools that help deal with stress and unpleasant situations, and complex family interaction is undoubtedly one of them.
Before the holiday dinner and even before the preparations begin, try to bring to your awareness that you are heading towards an atmosphere that may require mental abilities of a slightly different kind.
Once you know that Aunt Emily will probably say derisive things about your food (that you worked so hard to prepare) and there is nothing you can do to prevent it because she is who she is - your approach to the situation will be much lighter.
Once you're aware in advance that your cousin Kirk tends to throw out snarky comments when he's had a few drinks, and he probably will this time, too - you won't be overly excited when it actually happens.
Once you come with total self-awareness that the process of technical organization for the holiday dinner, along with all the attention required for all the little details, may cause you to become irritable very quickly, then your ability to stop and take a deep breath will be much stronger. All, as mentioned, thanks to that self-awareness.
And why is this happening? You must be asking.
Well, this is a relatively broad psychological phenomenon that we cannot fully explain here and now (and we don't want to either. This is not the concept of the website), but in a nutshell - the whole frustration process that we are familiar with from situations where we are angry - originates from an inability to control things, and our desire to impose ourselves on reality. And when we reach positions of lack of control from a place of full awareness - about that lack of control - everything becomes much more manageable because we don't expect anything and don't impose our will on reality.
This is the essence of self-awareness - be aware of what is happening inside you. This way, you can transform from a reaction to an initiative, which is the essence of the concept of freedom - mental freedom.
So the first step towards staying sane when hosting Christmas dinner is taking a deep breath and mentally preparing for what's to come.
You will be surprised how light and pleasant it will make you feel.
And by the way, there's another hidden advantage to this tool. Since you arrive mentally prepared, you subconsciously expect bad scenarios to happen ("Kirk and Emily will be unbearable! I'm sure of it"). So if Kirk and Emily surprise everyone and act reasonably, you'll be more than happy about that. And if they behave as expected - you are adequately prepared.
Think about what's next. That way, you will arrive prepared
There are many examples, but the guiding principle is the same in all of them - taking a deep breath and understanding in advance the situations you will (perhaps) come to will help you a lot.
So - inhale and exhale!
2. Personal taste.
Oscar Wilde once said:
"I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best."
Although, as hosts, due to the differences between your guests and their own taste/preferences, at any social gathering, you will never be able to please everyone perfectly, still, the difference between reasonable and perfect hospitality lies in your ability to make adjustments that will satisfy everyone's personal taste as much as possible.
One of the actions you must take to get through the holiday dinner in one piece is to create a perfect hospitality experience for your guests. This way, you can minimize the comments/complaints, etc., and make sure that, in the end, everyone will be happy.
How do you do it? You must be asking.
As a first step, you can always start by reading the article from our sweet blog about the secrets of home hosting.
We are quite aware that the next step is more complex to perform, but if you know how to execute it properly, your holiday dinner will be much smoother and, along with it - your peace of mind.
Before their arrival, you should discover your guests' personal tastes/preferences regarding the various food ingredients and the hospitality experience as a whole.
Considering the fact that these are family members/friends, this is quite an achievable task.
Good hospitality is entirely dependent on the ability to provide excellent personal experiences. Those that make every guest feel that despite the broader gathering, everything that happens here is for him and him alone. And this is precisely what you should give your guests.
What's the spice that Aunt Gina can't stand?
How to make the chicken soup that David, your second cousin, keeps talking about throughout the year?
Who is sensitive to lactose, and who has a problem with gluten?
Your sweet niece Rhonda who can't stand her cousin Caroline, will go crazy if she is seated next to her - you must prevent this in advance.
People are different creatures with different preferences. You must understand those of your guests
All these and more are only a tiny part of the optional examples. Still, the guiding principle/equation is quite precise - suitable adjustments to personal taste equal happy guests and happy guests equal a holiday dinner conducted quietly and peacefully.
3. Perfect implementation.
Benjamin Franklin once said:
"failing to prepare is preparing to fail."
Like most things in life, preparation is a critical key to your success, and this is doubly true when it comes to hosting.
The first and most crucial part of your preliminary preparation should ensure the total fulfillment of the three hospitality principles. Or as we at Sweet crib usually call them: "Cco."
Applying these principles will ensure that your home's preliminary preparation before guests' arrival will be ideal.
Clean and tidy - Cleanliness and orderliness - during the day before the guest's arrival, ensure that your home is as orderly and clean as possible. Besides the well-known importance of a clean and tidy house, it will help you welcome your guests properly. You can read here about practical tips that will help you clean your home.
Comfortable - Comfort is one of the essential things in life in various aspects. Home comfort is just one of them.
Although comfort is a dynamic concept for each person, everyone has their own definition for it and how to achieve it. However, still, it can be roughly estimated that, at least regarding the feeling of comfort, there is a fairly broad agreement.
Therefore, create a homely atmosphere that will be as comfortable as possible for you and your guests. You can get here great tips on how to do it.
Odors - Diana Ackerman once said, "Nothing is more memorable than a smell."
The importance of a good home fragrance cannot be overstated. It's the first thing that accompanies everyone entering your home from the first second, even before they see anything.
We have dedicated a great article to this on our sweet blog.
Make sure you do everything necessary to make your home smell good before your guests arrive (and in general). As we will see later, this is a significant part of the means to becoming an elite host.
Execute things in the best way possible!
Making the holiday dinner an event that is carefully, thoroughly planned, and executed in the highest quality way will ensure everyone is satisfied, which will contribute to your peace of mind.
By the way, it is also important to note that although all that was said above, you must know that, like everything else in life - you must take things in the right proportion.
It would be best if you were not too hard on yourself.
Although strictness is a quality that helps to perform actions perfectly, one of the most important things that will help you get through Christmas dinner sanely is to be easygoing about your mistakes.
By doing this, and realizing that there always were/are/will be flaws in the elements of your hospitality (and that of every other host ever since. No one is perfect), the sense of enormous responsibility becomes a little lighter. There is no doubt as to its contribution to your peace and tranquility during the holiday dinner.
4. Sit down and talk.
In most cases, good communication is the foundation and key to success in most areas of life.
Given the fact that a significant portion of the potential arguments at Christmas dinner may be between one of your nuclear family members and an outside guest or between you and one of the external guests, it is in your best interest to have good advance communication with your family members that will help you minimize the potential damages.
The key phrase is - coordination of expectations. Before Christmas dinner arrives, you must be on the same page.
Do yourself a huge favor and take your Spouse and children to get some ice cream in a relaxing environment a few hours before the guests arrive. That way, you will have the opportunity to get some fresh air and talk a little while you are chilling.
Doing so allows you to take the tools discussed in section 1 and expand their benefits for your entire family.
While they are having their ice cream, say something like this to your family:
"Listen, guys. As you probably know, we're hosting the holiday dinner at our house. It's important that despite the intrigues that exist, We will try our best so that everything goes smoothly.
So John/Melissa, although we know your cousin Jamie isn't exactly your cup of tea, we ask that you come with a complete understanding of our desire to get through the holiday dinner with an as little argument as possible. "
Talk to each other and you'll be on the same page
Apart from helping with a more peaceful Christmas dinner, doing so will help you strengthen your family bonding.
5. Plan B.
There is a famous quote attributed to the great tennis player Serena Williams:
"If Plan A isn't working, I have Plan B, Plan C, and even Plan D."
We don't want to sound like party poppers, but you should know that it is very likely that everything we wrote above (hereafter: "Plan A") will not go as planned.
The best way to function correctly when your plan doesn't work is simply using a pre-prepared alternative plan - plan b.
This is relevant to all of the components listed here in our article.
Literally, Everything can go wrong and get out of control, contrary to what you planned - from the planning stage (you hoped for a particular thing and got something else) through the execution of the dinner itself, and up to one of your family members, who, despite the mental preparation you made beforehand, is unable to control his emotions and snaps at someone else shouting and starts an argument with him at the dinner table.
How do you deal with this, you must be asking?
Well, the best way involves preparing an alternative plan - "plan b."
Be prepared with a plan B!
We know this is easier said than done, and there is no clear guidance regarding the subject because these are dynamic matters uniquely tailored for your specific Christmas dinner table. However, the guiding principle is the same - try, as much as you can, to understand What are the things that have even a tiny chance of not going as planned - and prepare an alternative plan for them.
Doing so can reduce the chance of being surprised by unfortunate inconveniences because you have already prepared for them (some of them) before they occur.
And no doubt, avoiding unfortunate unpleasantries will significantly assist you in getting through your Christmas dinner hosting in peace.
In conclusion, this article, and the tools presented in it, will help you to some extent to maintain your sanity while hosting Christmas dinner at your home.
And if nothing works, an "accidental" power outage that forces everyone back to their homes is always a reasonable possibility.
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