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“Home” for the Holidays: Hostessing Tips for Keeping Your Stress Level Low This Holiday Season

There are a few tricks to keeping your stress level low with guests in your home, and I know there are quite a few areas that I need to improve on! Please read this post all the way through. It may not sit well with you, but I am quite seasoned in the area of entertaining, and I implore you to read all that I am sharing.

Today, I’ve chosen three main areas of hostessing to discuss.

Hostessing Tips for Keeping Your Stress Level Low This Holiday Season

#1: FOOD

Plan to cook a huge, elaborate meal, catering to each person’s preference and eating habits. Go out of your way to know what their likes and dislikes are. Do not worry about the budget. Go above and beyond. Scour Pinterest, pinning an option A and B, possibly a C, for each meal your guests will be there for. I would even encourage you to do a test run with each and every item. No guest should eat an undesirable meal. Pinterest may claim the recipe is amazing and easy, but do not trust it. Also, if the meal is easy, wouldn’t you rather have your guests see you slaving over the stove for hours to present them a meal worthy of their presence? And ALWAYS do the dishes by yourself—do not ask your guests to help. Don’t forget your special holiday apron!


Board games and card games are great for small get-togethers. But when it comes to the holidays, you must come up with original games to entertain your guests. You can find some mediocre ideas here or here, but for an extraordinary holiday memory, I urge you to spend plenty of time creating a game of your own. Do not involve the children. While this could be fun, they do not understand fine entertainment. Christmas lights-looking is a viable option. We especially like the Jolly Holiday Lights display at Water Works Park in Des Moines. This activity will entertain your guests adequately, but only if there is amazing music playing, quiet children who occasionally “ooo” or “ahh,” and some homemade cookies or treats for the ride. While entertaining guests, a television or other media device may not be used.


This one is key. Your home must be in TIP-TOP shape in order to host an event. If you look around and see any dust, finger prints, or dirty dishes, please call your local country club and pay whatever you need to pay to reserve it for your event. Your children will thank you one day when they look back and begin to question their own abilities to host an event in their immaculate homes. You may believe that cleaning the week before the event is acceptable, but I would advise that you save it all for the day before, and plan on staying in a hotel so that your home stays perfect. You want your guests to feel like they are stepping into the finest home in the neighborhood. Please be sure that your decorations are purchased (not made) and current (not last season). There is nothing worse than a dirty, DIY home.


Did this post sound absolutely INSANE to you?!?! That’s because it IS!!! We are MOMS, we are FAMILY, we are absolutely NOT perfect! If you are hosting your family’s or friends’ holiday this year, take heart! They are not there to inspect your home, to be entertained by you, nor to critique your food. They are there to ENJOY you and your littles. They just want to be near you, they want to hear the belly laughs of your children, they want to gather around your table and take part in a sacred tradition of breaking bread together. Even if that bread is store-bought and you run out. They want to be a part of the love and warmth that comes from being together.

Let’s try this again….

#1: FOOD

Marti is sharing some great recipes later this week. I would suggest trying one of those. Or don’t! Order pizza. It really will not matter. My family has done a potluck-type Christmas in years past. We pick a theme (pasta, breakfast, etc.) and everyone brings a couple things to add to the buffet. It works out perfectly, and I don’t have to stress over cooking for 10+ people. For the seasoned cooks: choose something you have made before. A trusted and delicious meal that your guests are sure to love. For us, that’s usually meatloaf! Throw it all together in one mixing bowl, put in a loaf pan, and let it cook for an hour. Super easy and delicious. If cooking is not your passion or strong suit, Hy-Vee offers the whole sha-bang to purchase. For New Year’s Eve, we like to pick up a couple nugget trays from Chick-fil-A.


Board games and card games are so much fun with a big group! Some of our favorites are Catch Phrase, Apples to Apples, Pitch, Nerts, and many, many more! Chances are, your guests will be entertained just by your kids and catching up with you and your family. There are plenty of holiday shows and movies available on Netflix; or, check Redbox for new releases! Also, the men in your house would love the option of watching football. If it’s nice enough out, take advantage and get a game of flag football or catch going! Entertainment usually happens regardless of options. Enjoy the carefree time together!


This one is hard for me…. I do like to present a clean home, and I am guilty of apologizing for my home as my greeting to guests. Over the years, I have started to let go of my “perfection” expectations (because my home is NEVER spotless. Ever.) and allow myself to be in the moment with my guests—not looking around at what needs cleaned up or apologized for! If you can get the floors swept/vacuumed, not have sticky residue on the door handles and light switches, and have enough clean dishes to serve a meal—that’s a win! I would venture to say that your guests will not feel cozy and comfortable in a home that is sparkling. Because chances are, their homes are not either. I want my guests to feel at home! They will appreciate the real, casual, warm home you have opened to them. (More on creating a welcoming atmosphere in your home later this week!)

I have found that at the end of it all, some of the mistakes make the best memories. Enjoy your time together and worry less about the things in life this holiday season.

I would LOVE to hear your suggestions on hosting a holiday with less stress!

Read more from our “Home” for the Holidays series!

HOME for the Holidays

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One Response to “Home” for the Holidays: Hostessing Tips for Keeping Your Stress Level Low This Holiday Season

  1. Autumn
    Autumn November 12, 2014 at 8:27 pm #

    If you have a Keurig (and the budget for it), it can be a fun way to work in something special/personalized (for kids and grownups) without a lot of muss & fuss. Spring for some cider, hot cocoa, teas & coffees. Plus–no waste–whatever is leftover, your family can enjoy into the new year.

    Find a happy medium that works for you between stressing over your favorite dishes getting broken and being wasteful (with paper products). There are tons of eco-friendly, SUPER CUTE holiday serviceware that you can take advantage of.

    Remember, your presence is the best present during the holidays so don’t be scurrying around worrying. Brew that warm cup, put that snack on paper napkin, and sit down next to someone you love!

    Loved the post, Rachel!

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