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‘Tis the season to be….not so jolly?

With the holidays quickly approaching, American stress levels are on the rise. According to US World and News Report, “…a survey by the American Psychological Association found that 38 percent of people said their stress level increases over the holidays. Another survey, by the investment firm Principal Financial Group, revealed that 53 percent of people feel financially stressed by holiday spending, even though more than half of the 1,000 respondents had created spending budgets.”

What’s worse, is that holiday stress is only amplified for countless Americans getting ready to host family and friends. According to 6 Ways To Overcome Your Hosting Anxiety, “If the thought of a party alarms you, it’s likely you suffer from some level of social phobia, the most common anxiety disorder to afflict Americans. Its primary symptom is an oppressive sense of being criticized and judged.”

If you feel overwhelmed by the thought of hosting, these 3 simple tips will help you prep, plan and handle yourself like a pro, making this holiday season one to remember (and not because you couldn’t hold your liquor).

De-Clutter

With friends and family coming over, consider taking some time to clean up and clear out, getting your home fresh and tidy before it becomes inundated with company and gifts. Start small, tackling one area of your home at a time to determine what items you should keep, what items you should donate, and what items you should simply discard.

If space is an ongoing issue, consider renting a self-storage unit nearby to keep items that are just too large to store at home. Best of all, when the holiday season is through, you can keep your holiday decor there for safe keeping, maximizing space within your home for items you need on a daily basis.

Cook Ahead

There are countless recipes for delicious side dishes that can be prepared ahead of time, leaving you with nothing to do but reheat the day of. Remember, just because you’re hosting doesn’t mean you have to make everything. Ask your guests to bring specific items, such as an appetizer or dessert, so that you can remain focused on your main dish instead of making it all.

When dinner is through, you can send home some doggy bags for your guest to enjoy! Purchase some fun and festive food containers from your local dollar store so that you can easily distribute leftovers when the festivities are done. With plenty of ideas to help you repurpose holiday meals, your guests will thank you (and you’ll be happy to clear everything out)!

Breathe…

Take some time to yourself before, during and after your event, in order to identify and address your feelings, privately. Family or friendship dynamics can bring up a plethora of memories, good and bad. Holiday Stress: Dealing with Family Drama and Dysfunction states that, “We often turn into 15 year-olds around family (a time when we didn’t have agency or psychological insight). Old wounds are reopened and we revert back to childhood coping patterns. Remember that you’re no longer an adolescent, but a capable, rational adult.”

So, when your mother-in-law gifts you a book about how to properly host, rather than bring her to your self-storage unit to remain the rest of the evening, you can simply excuse yourself, smile and let it  go. You cannot change what people say or do, but you can change how you react.

By cleaning up, planning ahead and taking some time to decompress, your holidays are certain to be merry and bright. Wishing you a wonderful, stress-free holiday season!

You’ve got this!

It’s funny what memory does, isn’t it? My favorite holiday tradition might not have happened more than once or twice. But because it is such a good memory, so encapsulating of everything I love about the holidays, in my mind, it happened every year. Without fail.” -Molly O’Keefe-