If you’re anything like me, your hosting-for-the-holidays anxiety might begin in August.

Our reasons for anxiety might be different. Maybe yours involves family dynamics, money, other responsibilities, or just knowing you’re going to have to clean-the-house-for-real that causes you to fret.

Struggling with anxiety has been one of my lifelong battles. And having people over has been one of my lifelong loves. For the most part, the love has outweighed the battle and I’ve forged ahead. I’ve also learned a few things along the way that I think would helpful for others.

Tea Party Girl’s Keys to Hosting a Party with Less Anxiety

  1. Admit the part of entertaining you hate to do or just can’t. Are you hosting an event in your home this December? Is there a part you’re dreading? Then delegate it, cashing in on your resource of money or friendship and spend your time on the part you enjoy. This year I want to be much better about delegating the food for our events. The first year we lived in our current house was also my first year homeschooling. I had a two year-old and offered to host Thanksgiving for twenty-two people. What was I thinking?!
  2. Know when enough is enough. Yes, you might love the results of a perfectly clean home or every oak tree wrapped in white lights, but do you enjoy the process of getting there? Maybe not so much. For example, I couldn’t afford to pay anyone this year to deep-clean my home (spring-cleaning happens in November at The Wellspring) except the windows. So I dug in, delegating to the children some of it and conquering certain things that had to happen. I lasted four hours over two days. Yep, that’s it. Love the results, hate the process. Enough is enough.
  3. Fight for the part of your event that really matters to you. For example, I really, really, care how the house looks (enough candles and baubles will help cover what the didn’t get cleaned in those four hours). And colored flashing lights on the family tree remind me of neon lights in bars. But I have three children who still think cartoon snowman with tomato-red accessories are darling and love the colored lights. Now they know, Mom is the final authority in one room of the house. Buying $15 tiny trees for them to decorate themselves and put where they want (sans my one room) has saved me a tremendous amount of grief.
  4. Give yourself time to prepare. Preparing for hosting an event needs time. Even the most spontaneous and casual among us might have children or a husband that shouldn’t have to race around Cost-co on Christmas Eve. It’s a recipe for exhaustion (often resulting in sickness) and overspending when we don’t make time to prepare for our event. If one of your main jobs is homemaking, it’s a job that never goes away. In a culture of no servants, we still have to feed, clothe, and care for others during the stress of entertaining. So give yourself, even if it’s for your loved ones’ sake, time to prepare.
  5. Do not consider the time your guests arrive your deadline. I always try to be done with as much as possible the night before or at least two hours prior to when my guests are supposed to arrive. You need time to shower, get dressed, and relax before the last minute requirements. Examples of last minute requirements are lighting candles, filling water glasses, turning on the music and setting out the already prepared platters of food. Last minute requirements should almost never have to be cleaning the bathroom, baking, setting the table, or deciding what to wear.

So how about you? Do you struggle with being an anxious hostess? What lessons have you learned from your experiences? Any perspective you would like to add?