5 minute read

008: Home: Hosting the Holidays


  1. Planning guest lists and food
  2. Time frame to prepare before event
  3. Traditions

Who to spend the holiday with

Some love a little quiet, but most people realize that gathering with family and friends is what makes the holiday better. Sometimes the Mitchells have family come who are from in town, some come from out of town, and sometimes friends come over.

Organized families plan who they want to share the holiday with. Next, contact the guests and see if they are available. Once you know who’s coming, then choose appropriate food items. The people you invite influence what food and how much food you’ll need to prepare. Some family members may have allergies or dietary restrictions. Some family members always want traditional foods on the menu.

Amy loves having the family over, but she doesn’t love providing and cooking all the food, so she sends out a message to all invited to see what foods everyone would like to eat. That gives all the guests some ownership in the party. Then they divvy up food items so everyone contributes. Amy likes it for 3 reasons:

  1. She’s not in the kitchen for hours preparing everything.
  2. It also gives others a chance to eat foods prepared the way they like them, and that their family is used to.
  3. It’s not too much on anyone’s budget.

Dave’s parents come from out of town, so they volunteer to bring foods that they can just pick up from the store, or they plan ahead to prepare in Dave and Amy’s kitchen. Take into consideration foods that need the oven or are labor intense so one person doesn’t have 4 food assignments that all need the oven or that take a lot of time to prepare.

Sometimes after everyone has volunteered to bring food items, there may still be one or two dishes on the list that no one has spoken up for. As a host, Amy throws it out there one more time to see if anyone wants to bring it. Many will realize they like that food if someone else makes it, but they don’t want to make it themselves. So if no one speaks up and offers to bring it, you can scratch it off the list and as the host you don’t have to stress over it anymore. Mitchells used to have marinated mushrooms often at holiday gatherings, but only one sister would make it. When she doesn’t come to family holidays, that food item doesn’t get prepared.

The host then compiles the list of food items and who is in charge of bringing it and sends it back out to everyone so there is no confusion on who is bringing what.

The Mitchells come from families that are supportive and follow through when they say they’ll bring something. If you have family members who don’t like to cook, maybe they can pitch in money or offer to do the cleanup afterwards.

Time frame to prepare

Not only does the host have to square away the menu, but they also need to prepare the home, the environment, the eating area. Mitchells pull out extra tables, get dishes ready, clean the house. If it’s a summer party, then the yard needs to get ready too. Kids can help get things ready too. When kids pitch in, it helps alleviate some stress from parents.

Know your limits and feel free to ask for help from all family members. Sometimes Amy needs help from the family, she will list 5 things that need to get done, and each kid can choose one chore that they like doing to help out. Unfortunately the last kid to pitch in gets stuck with the last chore. But preparing for the holidays needs to be a whole family event.

Organized families work backwards when planning. If you are cooking the turkey and know it needs 8 hours to cook, and 12 hours to thaw, or whatever, and family dinner is set for 2:00, then work backwards, so you know exactly when that turkey needs to get started. Working backwards is key for a big event. That helps pace you better, so not all is saved for the last minute.

Sometimes you start much earlier. If the family is all together for Labor Day, then you can start planning your next family gathering, like Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas. You can decide where that holiday will be held, and who is in charge of the big stuff, and that helps them plan ahead and get a better deal on things.


Football games, basketball games are a part of some family’s traditions.

One Thanksgiving tradition Amy had as a kid was after the Thanksgiving dinner was cleaned up, but before they had pie, they scheduled a time to play sports as a family. It helped burn off some of those dinner calories and make room for the pie calories. That is a tradition that has continued for more than 25 years, adding spouses and children as the years have passed.

Christmas comes with a lot of traditions, but sometimes if there are too many traditions that you are compelled to continue, it can add too much stress and too much frustration to keep up with.

Traditions are great because they tie families together and generations together, from holiday to holiday, but it’s important to find that balance of traditions that do bond you with happy memories. You don’t have to keep doing the same traditions that no one even likes anymore.

Getting married gets tricky as you try to blend traditions from two different families. Try to find that combination of traditions which may mean keeping all the traditions from both sides of the marriage, dropping a few and keeping a few, or creating brand new traditions unique to your new little family. Holidays should be a fun time.

Christmas comes with so many wonderful traditions, but it is also a very busy time of the year. Schools are having Christmas concerts and programs, recitals. You’ve got shopping to do. There are work parties, church parties, and family parties.

Mitchells are very practical, and one tradition they have is that they choose only the traditions they want to do that year. One year they may make gingerbread houses, but if it doesn’t fit it the next year they don’t stress over making it happen. One year they may go Christmas caroling, but not the next year, and they are okay with that. Organized families find traditions they love and that add to the holiday.

When sharing the holidays with different people you may have to give a little and join in their traditions or share yours. One friend spent Thanksgiving with a family where the men cleaned up afterwards and the women sat and chatted. That was far different than he grew up with, but he got right in there and cleaned up too, happy to be a part of that tradition.

Enjoy your holidays!

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