by Theresa Albert
The stress of the season is not what was intended by its creators. Regardless of your religion, the whole idea is to gather with loved ones, break bread and enjoy the harmony. To help you do that, here is a list of holiday planning don’ts that will stand you in great stead. Ignore the advice at your own peril.
Don’t invite too many guests
Consider the style of your party first. A sit down dinner is different from a cocktail reception is different from a “bring the family!” open house. You will be frazzled trying to say hello to the 100 or so humans flowing through the house if you were hoping for a long, dinner time chat. Here’s your cheat sheet… Sit down dinner? Count the number of chairs that actually fit around the dining table and do not go beyond. Cocktail reception? Count the total number of seats on your main floor and multiply by 2 or 3. Open house? Count the number of kids that can comfortably and safely fit in your rec room. Stop inviting families when the kid’s space is maxed out. (or there will be injuries and you will be sorry)
Don’t try new recipes
Unless you are a very confident and competent cook, now is not the time to experiment and play Top Chef. Better to go with your tried and true traditional contribution than have a bomb go off in your kitchen that incinerates your nerves. You and your guests will both be thankful for this decision.
Don’t ignore the non drinkers
Not everyone wants to drink alcohol at every party all season. Not to mention that a ratio of one glass of water for every alcoholic beverage is a good sobriety meter. Have an array of sparkling waters, flavoured waters and a mocktail on hand to be sure to serve everyone safely.
Don’t leave everything to the last minute
Cook ahead, plan ahead, or cater ahead. You will be spitting mad (like you were last year) if you are stuck in the kitchen until the wee hours the day before. Then exhaustion will hit during your big do and you will just wish everyone would leave by 10. They won’t.
Don’t decorate like it’s the 80’s
Choose one simple color (its best if it isn’t red or green) and add accents to your home in that tone. This way, you can spend the coming weeks training your eye to find everything festive and pink or festive and silver. It will pull the house together without overdoing it or looking cluttered.
Don’t forget about the dog
Board him, loan him, or crate him unless he is the most best behaved (by your guests standards, not yours). Hey, we like our pets too but its just gross when they breathe or wag all over the coffee table. Bring him out for clean up duty, no one will notice.
Don’t forget a memento
It’s not necessary but it’s nice to send your guests off with a gift. A trinket for their tree in the colour of your theme perhaps? A few cookies wrapped and stuffed into tissue in dollar store boxes? It does close off the evening and leave a lasting glow.
Don’t forget about the weather
Hey, we live in Canada; we are bound to be slammed. Plan around the worst. Invite local guests as well as travellers so that one snow storm doesn’t wipe you out. Have boot trays and floor towels ready along with extra snow brushes for coats and cars. Be sure your shovels are out and any teenage boys are available. A stack of $10 bills ought to motivate them. Guest beds made up and the absent neighbour’s house keys (with guest privilege permission) are a good idea, as are a couple of dozen eggs for the morning. Let your guests know that you are prepared for the worst and that their safety and comfort is your top priority. After all, if it all goes sideways, your comfort and happiness are at stake.