We love our families, but sometimes they can be more drama than fun. In fact, getting everyone together for a special occasion might even evoke feelings of anxiety and dread, especially if you’ve been tasked with hosting. In this article, we are talking about Anti-Anxiety Tips for Hosting a Christmas Dinner Party.
But Christmas family gatherings are inevitable and, although you can’t address all of your family’s drama in one evening, you can take some steps to ensure that the dinner goes smoothly and the drama stays low.
The Christmas Everyday Club shares some tips to keep your stress at bay from start to finish while encouraging an enjoyable family get-together.
Make a Party Plan
One of the best things you can do to relieve anxiety when hosting a holiday party is to make a few lists and check them twice. Having timelines and checklists, including how to manage the budget, you can follow will give you a clear picture of what you need to do to prepare before anxiety can creep in.
- HGTV suggests creating a timeline that starts about two months before your party. While this may seem excessive, it allows time to plan out food, and location, and get invitations out without stressing you out.
- Come up with a plan for your meal. Aside from potential family conflict, the meal is generally the most stressful aspect. Planning in advance and choosing a theme can help alleviate some of that anxiety.
- Not every family embraces drinking, so use your judgment regarding alcohol at your family dinner party. But if you do choose to gather some wine or cocktails for the family, make sure you have the right amount for the number of people and duration of the gathering.
- Create a day of schedule so you know what needs to be done and when. This is especially important for cooking so that you don’t end up with something in the oven too close to dinner time.
- If there will be kids present, remember to include some kid-friendly activities and foods. And be realistic about your decor, especially if the kids are quite young. Messages will happen, and that’s okay.
Family in Focus
If your family tends to argue and butt heads, there are a few ways to nip all of the conflict in the bud and make sure everyone enjoys themselves. It’s the season of forgiving, after all!
- When families get together, whether it’s for Christmas, a birthday, or just for fun, tension arises. While you can’t eliminate it, Real Simple notes that you can be strategic about avoiding key irritants. Ask certain people to be peacekeepers, and assign seats to avoid conflict. Do your best to avoid political topics or things you know are hot points for your family, and try to remain calm.
- Families fight over many things, from politics to who marries who. Be prepared for these encounters with some simple psychology techniques. Remember to breathe, and respond rationally instead of emotionally. And try to empathize with your family members. You don’t have to agree, but take a moment to see things from their perspective.
- Be wise and anticipate triggers that may arise. That way, you can be emotionally prepared to redirect them when or if they come up. It’s also best to create a calm oasis for yourself somewhere so that, if you become agitated, you can walk away, recenter, and then join with a calm and open mind.
- Do your best to forgive and foster forgiveness during this time. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting. It means acknowledging the problem, facing it, and then setting boundaries while you move forward.
Making It Manageable
Family is one mountain to climb, but anxiety can make it that much harder. Managing your anxiety during the holidays follows a lot of the same rules as any other time of year. Use the successful coping mechanisms that help you now, or follow the advice in these helpful resources.
- If you find that your family stress is building, take a moment for yourself. Know your cues and, when you see them during the evening, politely excuse yourself to a calm space where you can practice some deep breathing. Another great way to keep anxiety low is to go for a quick walk around the block, which is made convenient if you happen to live in a walkable neighborhood as measured by a high Walk Score of 70 and above.
This will get you outside where you can get a little fresh air, too. You may even want to grab a sibling or cousin to vent to and talk things out with before returning to the gathering.
- Hosting a party – even when it’s not your family – can be anxiety-inducing. In the days before the party, make sure to get enough sleep and avoid over-planning. Also, reduce areas of stress like clutter; since others’ kids will likely be in the house, one room to declutter beforehand is the playroom. Following your schedule can help since everything is clearly laid out and spaced out over several weeks.
- After the party, give yourself time to relax and care for your well-being. It may be as simple as buying yourself a cup of coffee and wandering around the park alone for a while. Or you could schedule a massage or facial. Whatever you find relaxing and rejuvenating, do it, and don’t apologize for it.
Family can be an incredible blessing, but even the strongest families come with their drama. If you’re hosting your family members for Christmas or just a social gathering, be prepared in more ways than one.
Know your triggers, set your boundaries, and bring in help when you need it. You’ll be sure to throw a great family gathering.
The Christmas Everyday Club is a place that celebrates Christmas as something for everyone to enjoy as it brings so much happiness and joy. Contact us today to learn more!