Yes, it’s that time of year again when humankind goes berserk. It’s the season of gift giving and life stressing. What used to be simple days of praise has now become the merchandise mecca of the year. It’s all about the gifts and the gift giving and the gift receiving. Or is it? Besides the present factor, there is the presentation factor. Oh yes, the hosting of the feasts or the attending of the feasts. Are you one of those who finds this time of year especially stressful? Even better, don’t you enjoy all the tv shows and the radio talk shows and expert magazine articles telling you how to survive the holiday season? Yeah, I can’t stand them either. So I have decided that I am going to share with you MY way of surviving this wonderful time of the year.
LEAVE TOWN! If you can, go and hop on a plane, a train, or leave in an automobile. GO! GO FAR FAR FAR AWAY! Why? You don’t have to deal with any of the visiting drama or the hosting drama. There is NO drama, except for crowds at the airport, but who cares? You aren’t related to anyone. Oh…leaving is not an option? Ok, plan B
YOU ARE THE HOST
KEEP IT SIMPLE:
The invite: If you are the chosen one hosting the get together, send out your invitation in July. That way everyone has time to book their trip abroad! Or, sadly, they can decide to spend time with you. I feel bad for them. Well, if you are the hostess with the mostest (like me!), here is your holiday survival plan.
Menu plan: it’s all about the list … ahem … lists. Your menu is one list. This will include the items you are planning on making. Sub-divide your list into the following categories: Appetizers / Main / Dessert. Further sub-divide that list into when to prep each item and what you have to buy at the grocery store. Example: vegetable tray: grape tomatoes, cucumbers, celery, carrots, cauliflower. This list will become your cheat sheet for the next list – GROCERY LIST. Oh, then there is the list of what platters / bowls utensils will be needed for each dish. See! Super easy! Oh, as the days progress you might find that you cross things off your list because they are either going to take too long or you’re too tired to attempt making them. Your 5 page list will suddenly wither away to one sheet. There…NOW it’s easy and manageable. So, if you started off with apple pie, pumpkin pie, cherry pie, chocolate cake, you might find that by December 24th your pie kingdom has morphed into “I’ve got ice cream in the freezer.” Yup, who doesn’t like ice cream? Someone will bring you chocolates or cookies and voila! Your dessert is taken care of.
Seating: Don’t worry about getting too fancy with your seating arrangement. As long as everyone can sit and eat it doesn’t matter what they have to sit on. Plastic stools, lawn chairs…who cares? It’s about family and being together right?
Gifts: Buying gifts has become a true tragedy. If you watch every commercial and try to buy the kids what they want, you will find (especially if there are divorced and/or remarried parents involved) that there will be quadruplicate same gifts! Avoid this catastrophe. Go for the stuff they aren’t expecting. Nothing trademarked. Nothing Disney. Nothing Star Wars. Nothing that anyone else can buy. Surprises are way more fun and they MIGHT even like it. Huzzah!
Decorating: No need to go over the top with decorations. Yes, it’s nice to make your home feel Christmasy, and a visit to the dollar store or your Goodwill store will have enough to make it ho ho hopefully good enough. A green garland, some red bows. Ta-da!
Drinks: Sure it would be nice to have every variety of booze available to your guests, but even restaurants draw the line. “Can I get a Pepsi?” you might ask only to hear, “Sorry, we have Coke is the ok?” Well, it’s not really ok but you take what you can get. Keep in mind that you are actually paying for getting what you didn’t really want. So, when guests come over (and they are not paying for anything), they can sip on whatever you have on hand. Newfie Screech? By golly why not?! It’s Christmas!
Clean up: Wow…look at those mounds of dishes that piled up because it was more important to be with your guests than hanging out washing dishes in the kitchen. In the old days the women would congregate there and gossip while washing and drying dishes. Gone are those days. There are now dishwashers. Sure it might take you 4 days to cycle all those dishes through the magic washing machine, but who cares? No one else is coming over so you’ve got lots of time.
Now, if you are…
KEEP IT SIMPLE:
Driving: Give yourself time to get to your destination. Parking is what it is. Don’t wear your nicest shoes as you might have to park in knee deep snow. Just saying.
Host(ess) Gift: I find two gifts work out best. Booze or sweets. Wine or hard liquor is a win! If you aren’t sure then chocolates or baked goods work (as they double for dessert at your destination). Note: Buy what you like to eat/drink since the hosts usually share whatever they have received.
Don’t overstay: You may be having a good time, but keep in mind that your host(s) have probably been losing lots of sleep planning the perfect soiree. If they keep mentioning how late it’s getting, that is a definite subtle clue that it’s time for you to pack up your sorry drunk ass and get on home.
There! That’s all there is to it! Sure, you may think this a bunch a hogwash and some are saying, “Well, you don’t know MY family.” Maybe not, but think about it, the less effort you put in the less people expect of you. Keep the bar low so no one can limbo under it. Low expectations will keep you off the high expectations list. Each year will bring less and less stress as you continue to regress.