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October 2018 Hosting the Holidays the Simple Way | Caliber Hints for Homeowners

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The holidays are coming, and you’re hosting this year. No problem. You can do this without all that excessive holiday stress and labor if you remember this advice: keep it simple.


Elaborate plans run the risk of becoming a whirlwind of chores and tasks, beating you down when you should be enjoying your holiday. And even the simplest of plans have a way of involving more work than you anticipated. Develop a strategy, but keep it simple.


Thinking of hiring a group of carolers? Stop. Adding a dazzling flambé dessert to the menu? No. You may have 20 great ideas. Do about 3 of them.


Simple is elegant. It’s classy. It’s memorable. It’s cool. Here’s a simple holiday hosting plan to help guide you.


CLEAN AND DECORATE

Cleaning doesn’t have to be a chore. Rather than tackle a full-on spring-cleaning project in the winter, your primary goal should be clearing away the clutter and excess “stuff.” Doing so will immediately help your home look clean and tidy, and has the added benefit of clearing extra space for your guests. Get some plastic storage boxes and go through the sections of the house that will be seen or used.  Stash anything unneeded, unattractive or extremely fragile in these plastic boxes. Don’t know where to put the boxes? If you don’t have a garage, consider this often-overlooked storage area: your car trunk, or the back area of your SUV.


Remember, a lot of new clutter will come in with the guests. It’s best to start with plenty of free space and cleared flat surfaces. After a quick cleaning, hang some simple holiday garland and lights. Besides making the space beautiful and festive, such decorations can also hide all kinds of dirt and flaws.


MAKE EVERYONE HELP (WITHOUT GETTING IN YOUR WAY)

Most family members and guests don’t mind pitching in by doing a few minor tasks. The key is to be specific when asking for assistance. Otherwise, you’ll have everyone milling about the kitchen, vaguely offering to help while they sip wine and peek in the oven. And, this will just lead to more stress for you as you try to wrap up final meal preparations in an overcrowded kitchen. Rather than tell everyone, “Thank you, but I have it under control,” keep your kitchen uncrowded and your day a bit less stressful by accepting those offers of help. Be specific in what you need done, though. Ask one person to entertain the kids before the meal, another to help set the table, and someone else will probably be happy to open and pour wine. If you need to, make a list of minor chores ahead of time, so you can check them off your list.


FEEDING THE MASSES

When planning the holiday party menu, remember your new mantra: “keep it simple.” Most people appreciate the traditional classics for holiday meals, so don’t create more work by trying something crazy or new. Make mashed potatoes with lots of butter. You’ll be a hero.


And not everything needs to be homemade. Remember your guests are there to enjoy the holidays with each other and you.  If you are tied up in the kitchen the whole time, they miss out on a big reason they accepted the invitation - you! Buying prepared food saves lots of time, stress and work. Delicious pies and breads are available in any grocery store, and most stores offer well-prepared side dishes in their deli department. You can pre-order these weeks before the celebration allowing you check off tasks and immediately give you a feeling of accomplishment.


As for snacks and appetizers, this is the perfect time to keep it simple. The most popular appetizers are usually the easiest ones. Even foodies love chips and dip. Another elegant option is charcuterie – buy a variety of gourmet cheeses and pre-sliced meats, add some fancy crackers. No need to add exotic mustards and olives. Cheese. Meat. Crackers. Done.


POST CELEBRATION

As things wind down, don’t be afraid to assign minor cleaning tasks. Again, your guests are there to spend time with you. So, do not hide away doing dishes while the moment passes you by.  Plan to either hire help to handle clean-up or put together a plan to have your guests participate. One family started a tradition of having the kids and teenagers clean up after the main meal, while the “elders” sip wine in the living room. It’s not popular with the young ones, but they’ll get over it. Plus, it helps them bond and fosters a good work ethic. And, it also will provide a much-needed break from all that holiday screen time.


HAVE FUN

Enjoy sharing your home with guests this holiday season. A relaxed and happy host makes for relaxed and happy guests.

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