7 Tips for Hosting a Stress-Free Holiday Gathering

I love hosting the holidays—there’s nothing better than opening our home to friends and family and enjoying delicious food and fellowship. However, I know it can also feel overwhelming to be in charge of preparing a large meal, cleaning the house, and doing all the things (while simultaneously keeping the kids alive). With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of several tips to help hosting the holidays run smoothly.

How to Host a Stress-free Holiday Gathering:

Plan Ahead 

When hosting any event, preparation is important. Make sure your house is stocked with all of the necessities. Of course it’s important to plan out the dishes you will be making and ensure you have all of the ingredients, but don’t forget to stock up on other necessary items, such as paper towels, trash bags, and toilet paper. 

Have Realistic Expectations

When it comes to hosting, I think it’s important to realize that chances are everything isn’t going to be perfect. There will probably be hiccups of some kind, and that’s ok. If something does go wrong, try not to dwell on it. Remember at the end of the day, the holidays are all about spending time with family and being thankful for what we do have. 

Accommodate Your Guests

Keep your guests in mind when preparing. Ask ahead if anyone has any food allergies or needs any special accommodations. If your family has babies or young children, make sure you have seating and napping  arrangements available (or if you don’t, make sure to let them know so they can bring their own). 

Keep It Simple 

Usually I’m all about being eco-friendly, but when it comes to hosting the holidays, I try to keep it as simple and stress free as possible. I love using paper plates and cups, because the less time I have to spend doing the dishes, which translates into more time to spend with my friends and family. 

Delegate Tasks When Possible 

Just because you’re hosting doesn’t mean you have to do EVERYTHING. One great way to delegate is to prepare the meal potluck style; i.e., asking each of your guests to bring a dish. This takes a lot of stress off of you and everyone gets to make what they love. Secondly, if someone offers to help with something like washing the dishes or watching the kids, let them! And if you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. 

Activities For the Kids 

Our kids love the holidays, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get bored if there’s not a lot to do. I found some holiday-themed coloring book tablecloths that were a big hit with my family. You could also set up an arts and crafts table or have holiday movies playing. 

Set Traditions 

Activities aren’t just for the kids! On Thanksgiving our family loves to get outside and play a game of football. We do it every year and it’s become a tradition. If football isn’t your thing, any activity will do. Other ideas include singing holiday songs together, playing a board game, or putting together a puzzle. You could even set a holiday tradition of taking a post-feast nap! Find something that fits your family. The holidays look different for every family and that’s what makes them beautiful. 

Hosting the holidays can be stressful, but try to remember what’s most important— spending the day with the ones you love. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if the turkey was over cooked or the placemats weren’t perfect. What matters is cherishing the moments with your family and friends and being grateful for what you have. 

What did I miss? I’d love to hear your feedback on how you host the holidays without feeling overwhelmed!

Jennifer is a native Texan and has called Collin County home for the past 7 years. She is a proud wife and mom to Lilah (2018) and Luca (2020). They live in northeast McKinney and love the small town vibe while still being within 10 miles of Target and Trader Joe’s. She graduated from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s in dental hygiene. When she’s not brightening smiles, she enjoys exercising, writing, a good cup of coffee, and her guilty pleasure — jamming 2000s pop punk. On the weekends you can catch her and her family spending as much time as possible outdoors. She has a passion for helping and relating to other moms through humor and loves to share her favorite local adventure spots.