Hosting for the Holidays
It’s no secret that hosting during the holidays can bring an added layer of stress. Between cooking, cleaning, and house guests, hosts often have little time to enjoy the festivities themselves. We’ve broken the holiday event down into three critical timeframes to help you be present and merry this holiday season.
Before the event
Visualize. How do you hope the holiday will go this year? How do you want your guests to feel when they enter your home? How would you like to feel while guests are visiting our home? When we get to the root of why we are gathering in the first place, we have a perspective on what truly matters. Let this guide how you approach this season.
Prep in Advance. You will need space and food. Start by considering your gathering space. Do you need additional chairs or decorations? Don’t leave this until the day before. If possible, set out guest towels and make up spare beds the week before your guests show up. Food can be prepped weeks or months in advance and stored in your freezer. Items such as casseroles, gravy, soup, pies, rolls, and cookies all hold up well in the freezer. A few days in advance, you can chop veggies and make dressings. Check out our Holiday Guide for some delicious holiday substitutions or this resource for make-ahead meals.
Take Short Cuts. Consider your holiday menu and deem which food items or chores you can simplify or outsource. Will your guests be just as happy with store-bought rolls instead of the ones you making them from scratch? Can the appetizer be a festive cheese and cracker plate instead of a complicated galette? Not only can you take pressure off of the big event, but you can also take pressure from the week of meals surrounding the event. Enjoy meals such as a charcuterie board/snack plate, reheated soup, or take-out pizza with a big side salad. Beyond the food, consider where else you can take a shortcut. If cleaning is an added stressor, consider using festive disposable plates or even budgeting for a cleaner to come before or after the event.
During the Event
Let Others Contribute. Think about specific guests and their natural abilities and personalities. Is your cousin good at making festive playlists to set the mood? Does your uncle love to tell stories to entertain kids? Will your sister thrive on refilling dishes and tidying? Does your son get excited about smoking the meat? Take a load off yourself and allow others to bring their unique contributions. People like to be involved, communicate and execute.
Feel Your Best. Fuel your body well with regular meals and snacks to keep your blood sugar level stable. Not only does this help with moderation at mealtimes, but low blood sugars cause a release of cortisol (our stress hormone). Eating consistently throughout the day can help you feel more relaxed. Throughout the busy day, focus on a balance using The Plate Method (your plate has 25% protein, 25% carbohydrate, and 50% non-starchy veggies).
Take a Breather. You know your personality best. If crowds can feel draining for you, plan to slip away at a few points to step outside for a quick walk or “attend to something” upstairs. Communicate with a family member that you may need this so they can cover for you as needed.
After the Event
Strategize for Leftovers. What food do you want to have around after the holidays are over? Consider how this will affect your health goals. Send the foods you don’t wish to keep around the home with others and repurpose the rest. Have the leftovers on their own or get creative and add them to an omelet or breakfast skillet, a turkey noodle soup, added to pasta, or turned into a burrito. Utilize your freezer for any leftovers you will not be able to eat in the following week. Most meats, treats, and foods with less crunch (think soup or mashed potatoes) hold up well in the freezer.
Rest. What refreshes you emotionally and physically? Do you need a solid nap, a long walk, or a good movie? Whatever allows you to decompress, make sure that you schedule this in the days after the event.
We hope these ideas help you float through this year’s holiday with ease. As always, our team is here to help you customize your holiday game plan through our Healthy Holidays Series or one-on-one with a Registered Dietitian. Connect with us to learn more.