31 Days of Hospitality: Day 30-Getting Ready for the Holidays...

Gourds with ribbon and welcome

Halloween is tomorrow.  Then we will head into Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah & KwanzaaThe prime entertaining season.  I am sure we all take on too much during this time of year. Baking, cooking, shopping, wrapping, cards, shipping, volunteering, shopping, traveling, more shopping.  And entertaining.  ON TOP OF WHAT WE DO EVERYDAY to keep things humming along: cleaning, cooking, laundry, working, volunteering.  You get the idea.  We are stretched t h i n during the holiday season.  I don't know about you but the entertaining part is my favorite.  What's a girl to do?

We all know the answer is to say 'no' more often, right?  Easier said than done for sure.  But every year, right about this time, I vow to have things run smoother and calmer than last year.  As I was hauling my supply of Christmas wrapping paper through Target yesterday I was getting some looks.  I know what they were thinking, 'Lady, here we are dragging our kids through the store looking for a Halloween costume and you are buying Christmas wrapping paper.  What's up with that?'  What's up is that I want things to run smoother and calmer than last year so in order for that to happen I start early.   It's the only way I can do this Christmas thing without losing it.  And sometimes I still lose it a bit.

I want to be able to have people over, even last minute, during the hustle and bustle of this season.  Enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend before a big bake fest.  Have friends over for dinner without worrying about all the stuff  I have to do.  How on earth will this serenity happen?

First off, I make a list of everything I have to do from November 1st to January 1st.  Use whatever format works for you: paper, electronic, both!  A great website to help you get started is called Orgainzed Christmas.  If you've never been there you need to check it out.  They have all kinds of printables to help get you started on your list making.  Once you have your to do list in front of you, pull out your calendar and give everything a date to be done by.  Break things down as managably as you can.  Delegate if you can.  YOU don't have to do everything.  Your family can help or you can hire things out if you want.  Just make sure you do it now - lots of housecleaners, bakeries, caterers, etc get booked up quickly this time of year.  Make sure you also check your kids' school calendars - there are lots of festivals, programs and parties this time year at school and you don't want to miss anything.

Here comes the hard part - once you have everything you need to do written down on your calendar, cross out two of those things.  That's right, you will be saying no to two things on your list.  When you say 'no' to something you are saying 'yes' to something else.  Trust me, you will be happy you did this.  You decide what the two things are.  Once you have crossed two things off your to do list it's time to get moving.  I check my list @ night so I know where things stand for the next day.  I try (hard to do here) to get up a bit early each day to start off with some quiet time.  It really makes a difference for me - 15-20 minutes usually does it.

If you look back at the rest of the hospitality series you will find ideas to help you get ready for your guests while still working on your list.  Being organized through this holiday season will help you enjoy yourself & your family more than ever.

I would love to hear your tips on staying sane throughout the holiday season.


I used to just accept that things would be insane and suck it up, but in the last few years I've tried to be less hard on myself. I pick just a few things that I want to be traditions, and assume everything else is negotiable.

One of my traditions actually occurs on Epiphany (or the closest weekend to it). This is when I host a tea for my close neighborhood friends. We come in jammies, exchange gifts, relax, and tell our crazy holiday stories. It wouldn't be near as much fun if we tried to stuff it into the weeks leading up to Christmas :)

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