Simplify Holiday Entertaining

Are you getting stressed out that there are only two weeks left and you've still got so much to do? Yeah, me too.

How to simplify holiday entertaining -  A Simple Christmas

But I'm trying hard to enjoy this month instead of letting it pass by in a blur. There are too many good things all around me every day not to stop and relish them. Friends, family, time outdoors, good books, good coffee, Christmas movies...there are lots of blessings every day leading up to the day of ultimate blessing. 

So I'm not worrying about my 'to-do's', and instead employing the organizational and simplifying tricks I use so successfully at work. On design jobs (and in my previous office jobs) I'm a big-picture thinker and a list-maker. I visualize the desired outcome, keep it high-level and don't worry too much about perfecting the details, then make a list of what I need to do to get there. I'm employing these same tactics for Christmas in the next couple of weeks.

This weekend, I'm simplifying what I need to do to be ready to entertain friends and family.

I invite you to join me in decluttering, cleaning, visualizing, taking stock, making a list (and checking it twice) and then re-stocking only what's necessary to accomplish your goals.

simplify holiday baking

Here's how:

1. Clear out your kitchen countertops and cupboards of under-used, broken and outdated appliances, containers, pots and pans, glassware, dishes and food. Take it to a local charity, toss it or store it away until after the holidays. When you have have more space to work with, it's easier to bake, cook and put out plates of food and drinks for guests.

how to organize and get ready for holiday entertaining

2. Do a top-bottom high-level cleaning of the common areas in the house - the entryway, kitchen, dining room, living room and guest bath.  Set up a basket or bin in the entryway to make it easy for guests to throw their hats and mitts in. Scrub down the appliances and sinks, and the table and chairs. . Have a stack of clean hand towels in the guest bath. Give the floors a good vacuum and mop. You don't have to get super picky here - just make sure that the

3. Take a minute in your spacious, clean, orderly home to visualize what a simple holiday season might look like. Think about entertaining a little less. Baking a little less. Buying a little less. Think about spending a little more quality time only with those you really love and value. Could you go out skiing or hiking for the day with a packed lunch instead of making something elaborate at home? Watch movies and drink hot chocolate instead of going to multiple parties? Enjoy a board game and pizza night with close friends instead of hosting a huge gathering?

Does this kind of simplified vision of the holidays make you happy?

Then this is the outcome you want to achieve, and all of your activities after that should support it. No need to complicate things by preparing more big dinners or hosting more people than you'd really prefer to, or stressing over having plates loaded with sweets in case company drops by. Decide what you want to do now, then stick with it.

small Christmas tree with natural ornaments

4. If you've not done much decorating yet, keep it simple. Just bringing in some greenery,  natural décor and a bowl of fruit can make your home feel festive without having to spend a lot of time or money. Check out this post for simple DIY holiday decorating ideas and this one for two tricks to simplify holiday decorating.

5. Now make some lists. The first is a list of the baking and cooking you will want to do and/or have prepared to accommodate your perfect holiday vision. The second is your grocery and supply list.

6. Then make a trip to the store and stick to your grocery list.

7. Bake and prepare ahead of time if it will make things easier, or simply have things ready to go so that when you're ready to do some cooking or baking, it will be easy.

8. Have self-serve easy breakfasts like oatmeal and fruit out in pretty containers where others can get it for themselves. Make a snack drawer to store everything in serving dishes so they're ready to whip out when needed.

9. Set up a coffee, tea and hot drink station and stock it up. Have everything you need to make drinks ready and corralled together in this one spot so it will make it easier when you have people over. 

10. Set the mood. Create a holiday music playlist on your phone that connects to a speaker in your home. Get a holiday essential oil blend for your diffuser and perhaps a candle or two for ambiance. Put the fireplace (or the fireplace screensaver) on.

Now sit back and relax! You’ve been productive and it will pay off over the rest of the month. I hope you’re slowing down to enjoy these days and weeks, my friends. They go by so fast. Happy holiday season.