Hosting the holidays is a bundle of mixed emotions. At the same time it’s wonderful, it can also feel overwhelming and frankly, draining. Whether you are welcoming guests for Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas weekend, the work involved is extensive. But does it have to be hard?
And on the flip side: being a guest in someone else’s place can be an uncomfortable thing. It can feel vulnerable and uneasy. But I can tell you about a few dozen times I have felt SO welcome into someone else’s home. Regardless of if I was there for a meal or a weekend stay, these folks nailed the principles of hospitality like a pro.
The Secret to Hospitality
Hospitality is more than just an organized and cozy space. It is SO much more than the food you serve your guests. Though these things are important, hospitality does not have to be complicated. In fact, hospitality is simple. It is all about welcoming your guests warmly and generously.
Hospitality isn’t about inviting somebody into our perfect home, but inviting people into our hearts. The secret to hospitality boils down to the same thing. These people excel at stopping, looking at each guest and determining what their demeanor and words say about their needs. Then, they MEET those needs.
Hospitality is not about the physical space we offer. Or the extent of our cooking skills. It’s about giving our time and attention to others in a way that says “you are important to me.”
The heart of hospitality is taking the needs of others into YOUR care as long as they are in your home.
Host the Holidays Like a Pro
Are you ready to host the holidays like a pro? Check out my top five tips below of what NOT to do when welcoming guests into your home.
Tip #1: DON’T Stress Out
Relax! You’ve got this, friend. Hosting holiday guests can take your stress level from 0 to 100 in no time flat. But the good news is with a little bit of planning, you can pull this off with grace.
Tip #2: Do NOT Try to Cook Something New
Unless you are a pro chef, leave new recipes for another night. Cooking something new can add unneeded stress to your holiday gathering, and take you away from spending time with guests. Stick to your tried and true winners, and if you do try something new, be sure to do one or two test runs in the weeks prior to your holiday gathering.
Tip #3: Do NOT Try to Do it All Yourself
Don’t be afraid to ask for help with your holiday hosting. One of my favorite ways to get help is from my kiddos. Enlist your kiddos to help with age appropriate party preparation and hosting duties. Spend a bit of time explaining why their job is EXTRA important to your guests. Kids love nothing more than feeling important and helpful!
Don’t be shy to ask your guests to pitch in, too. At our family gatherings we share cooking, serving and dish duties and it’s a great way to spend time together. Being a guest can be a bit vulnerable, and allowing your guest to help out will make them feel more comfortable.
The trick to asking for help is having a good idea of what needs to get done, when, and by who. You can make this as simple or complicated as you want. A list of duties with assignments is helpful (think: task / time / name such as: dress salad / right before serving / Molly). Another option is to put jobs on post it notes, and give them to your cheerful helpers!
So what if your guests want to help with something that makes you feel uneasy? Look, if you don’t want to delegate cooking the turkey, and aunt Mimi asks to help cook the turkey, just politely express gratitude for her willingness to help! Then ask her to help with something else from your list.
But the KEY is having this list READY in your back pocket. Hosting and cooking frazzles my brain, and I generally run around like a crazy lady without my list. I really wouldn’t know what I needed help with if it wasn’t written down!
Tip #4: DON’T Forget About Store Bought Options
There is NO shame in utilizing store bought goodies for your gathering. I’ve been going to extended family holiday gatherings for most of my life, and I have so many memories of being excited to find out what’s for dessert. And you know what? Dessert was almost always bought and premade.
So whether it’s a dessert, bread, side or all of the above, sometimes outsourcing the cooking is the best option. And there is nothing wrong with that!
The name of the game here is 1) making your guests comfortable and 2) maximizing your time with them. If that means the bread is from Panera or Great Harvest, I’m sure your guests will be ok with your decision.
Tip #5: Do NOT Undertake a Major Home Project
The temptation to have a perfect home for your guests is SO strong, especially around the holidays. But I learned the hard way on this one: don’t bite off more than you can chew. Sure, some furniture rearranging might be in order.
Just do me a favor though. Don’t be like my husband and I and decide to DIY fireplace built ins the weekend before your in laws come visit! It was WAAY too many hours of work squeezed into just a few days, and we were almost too exhausted to enjoy our company.
Don’t get me wrong. The payoff of completing that project was huge. We are so in love with our built ins and there’s nothing like a time crunch to make things happen. But we could have waited a couple weeks. That’s all I’m saying.
Don’t outdo yourself decorating, cleaning and DIYing your house up. You will have zero energy left to enjoy your company. Be reasonable with your time, mmmkay? And that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Make room to spend your time and energy with those you love.
While you’re thinking about hospitality, check out this post about easy ways to make your home feel cozy and welcoming for your guests. You will be surprised at how just a few simple things can make a big difference.
Don’t forget to pin the image below to your holiday board so you don’t lose it!