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How to Stay Sane When Hosting for The Holidays

How to Stay Sane When Hosting for The Holidays

It was my turn to host. We alternate hosting for the holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter) with my family and my husband’s family. The last few holidays with my family have been hosted by one of my two sisters so it was my turn. I was excited to host, especially on Thanksgiving. I’m fortunate enough to have not just one but two expandable dining tables that can each sit up to 12 people so having everyone over for a sit-down dinner is easily doable. When my older sister hosts Thanksgiving, some of us end up in the kitchen, some eat on the couch, kids eat in another room and the guys eat in the basement. But it was my year to host and we were going to have a sit-down dinner. It was going to be a really nice relaxing holiday. It was supposed to be, anyway.


I won’t get into the family drama leading up to the holiday, but let’s just say my family is no different from many others. There was drama. So rather than 23 people for dinner, there were 17 of us – 9 adults and 8 kids. There was no question in my mind that the adults would sit at one table and the kids at another since it was well divided. That way the kids could get up and leave when they were done while the adults could linger around the table and talk.

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Before Thanksgiving, I knew there was going to be one minor delay. My 16-year old nephew had to work until 2:00pm. He is a waiter in a 55+ community and being Thanksgiving he was slated to work. But my sister assured me they would arrive by 2:45. I planned on it. Since my family had to get up and moving early the next day for a long road trip to New Hampshire, I didn’t want a late night. I let my older sister know that we would plan to eat when she and her family arrived. For my parents and other sister, I let them know we’d begin at 12:00. I made plenty of appetizers since it would be lunch time and I had visions of us all sitting around relaxing and enjoying each other’s company for a few hours. It’s something we never really get to do. For mine and my younger sisters kids (four in total), I bought gingerbread house kits, figuring that would keep them entertained while anxiously  waiting for the other 4 cousins.

Hosting 17 people may sound like a lot but with some pre-planning, I was ready. Appetizers were mostly made the day before, tables set earlier in the week and the turkey was brining. On Thanksgiving morning my husband would take the kids to see their grandparents for breakfast and he would visit with his high school friends – an annual tradition. I would make a chocolate pie, cook the turkey and get everything ready for people to arrive at 12:00. Truth be told, I knew they’d be late. My family is notorious for being late. So I didn’t put the appetizers in the oven until 12:15, they’d be nice and ready by 12:30 when everyone started arriving. Except, they didn’t.

My sister’s family of four was the first to arrive at about 12:50. And thankfully, they did help consume some of the appetizers I made. My parents and grandparents however, they didn’t show up until 2:45.  2:45!!! Some last minute decision to pack on Thanksgiving contributed to the delay but so did their inability to just be on time. No phone call either. In fact, my repeated calls went unanswered. My older sister, the one who was supposed to arrive by 2:45? She showed up by 4:15 – with the stuffing and sweet potatoes still needing to be heated up. So much for eating dinner at 3:00.

I had this idea in my head of how Thanksgiving would go. It simply didn’t turn out that way. The meal was delicious and everything I could control went off exactly as planned.  In the heat of the moment, I was definitely angry but I had two choices. I could let it ruin my whole day or I could keep my feelings in check so I could actually relax and have a good time. I chose the latter.

So, the lesson I learned: Don’t get too caught up in your vision for the day. Sometimes it’s hard, but control what you can.

Have you been in a similar situation? What tips do you have on dealing with the stress of holiday hosting?


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