getting ready

Getting Ready for Holiday Events

getting ready

Choose your battles.

If you’re not the host of a large event, this post might not be for you.  Perhaps, though, you have kids coming home for the holidays and you’re tired of barely getting things done on time.  And if you often find yourself more frenzied than having fun, it’s time to focus on the most important: the people who will sit closest to your casket at your funeral. If any of these is your situation, you might want to read on.

If, however, you still have littles at home and struggle with having the “perfect Christmas”, then perhaps you can go to “The tip-top, ship-shape Christmas” found here.

Get ready.

Getting ready for hosting a holiday event can be fun – or frenzy.  It always helps to start early rather than late. (At my house, that’s almost a joke because I have a spouse who decides later rather than sooner that he still wants to do this yet.)

Things will go smoother if there is organization and planning. This helps not only the hostess, but the others who are asked to bring food, decorations, or games. Don't invade the schedules of others by procrastinating and then expect them to be meet your requests with so little time. Click To Tweet

If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times growing up: “Never put off to tomorrow what you can do today.” Follow this rule of thumb, and you’ll find you are less stressed at the last minute. Be realistic. If it can’t be done today, then aim for tomorrow or the next day, or the next!

Get set.

One month ahead. 

LOOK: Take a look around your place and decide what must be done before the event. Windows that just have to be cleaned? This is the time to do it. Shampoo carpets? Have at it – but do it now.  Whether it’s inside or outside, cleaning or repairing, get that done now. Make your list and check it off.  Do it today instead of tomorrow. Then move on to bigger things.

Getting closer!

Three weeks out.

PLAN MENUS. Figure out what you must fix and make a list of what others can do to help. Allow your guests to participate in what they want to bring if that is possible. If you know your guests well, then you’ll probably know what dishes are in their comfort zone. Stick with comfort zone. If you have a guest who can’t or doesn’t like to cook, allow her to bring paper products, eggs, or milk. There is always something anyone can do to help.

PURCHASE NON-PERISHABLES. If you’re hosting a crowd, you know you will need extra toilet paper, soaps, paper towels, laundry detergent, and dishwashing soap. If you’re using paper products, get those too. Stock up now and get those items out of your way.

FILL YOUR SHELVES WITH ITEMS YOU’LL NEED FOR RECIPES LATER. Whether it’s canned fruit for toppings, pudding or jello, there’s no need to buy those a week ahead when your shelves can be stocked earlier. It’s one less thing to do later. Remember: don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today.

STOCK UP ON REGULARS. Remember that folks will be using things out of your cupboards. Be sure to have plenty of salt, pepper, sugars, coffee, vegetable oil, vanilla, garlic powder, onions, and other usuals in your cupboard. While what is there now might last you another two weeks, once a crowd enters your home, it will diminish quickly. Ask me how I know!

getting readyAlmost ready!

Purchasing these things now and putting them away does several things. It decreases your grocery bill at the end of the month. It saves time later because all these items can be carried into the house and put away weeks before your crowd shows up. This also helps you recognize what you still need at the end of the month.

Two weeks out. Prepare foods that can be frozen. My pumpkin cake roll is always in the freezer several weeks ahead, waiting for consumption at the right time. Cookies. toppings, crumbs, some pies, or partially fixed foods can be prepared ahead and frozen until you’re ready to bake or use them.  I have sisters who make pie crusts several weeks ahead and freeze them for the last day of baking before a holiday. I have a friend who fixes a dozen apple and cherry pies months ahead. She puts them into the freezer unbaked and double wrapped. When she’s ready, she thaws the pies and pops them into the oven. I have enjoyed those pies! Before that, I didn’t think you could freeze pies that long and then bake them coming out with “fresh flavor” right out of the oven.

Do your last heavy cleaning now. If possible, get your guest beds ready and make sure you have plenty of toiletries in the bathrooms. If your kids are sleeping in your “guest rooms”, you won’t be able to get the entire room ready. But you can organize a closet and tidy it, so you won’t be frustrated at the last minute. This means you’re doing today what does not need to wait until tomorrow.


One week out. Plan how you can streamline the rest of your time in preparation. Designate specific items for specific days. Work down your list and stick with the plan as much as possible.

Your last day should be clear for only the absolute essentials that cannot be done any other day or time.  It also should be clear for accomplishing all those things that come up at the last minute, or that you forgot. Make sure your list includes only those things which cannot be done earlier. If it can be done before tomorrow, do it today!


Don’t try to do it all yourself. Don’t be caught up in your pride!  Ask for help from your guests. Soon after our marriage, we were having guests for Sunday lunch. My mother-in-law wanted to know what she could bring. I told her that her job that day was to take care of the gravy. She did. Certainly, I could have made the gravy, but I knew she could do it better and I knew my mind would be full of other things. So, I delegated. Let guests bring what is easy and comfortable for them. If you think you’re “the only one who can do it right” or the only one who can do it “the way you want it,” then you’ve got a Pride issue. Nix it.

Enlist the help of your kids if they are old enough. Your kids can be “assigned” to certain rooms. It can be a child’s responsibility to keep an eye on the bathrooms, to make certain the soap dispenser is not empty, the hand towel is clean – and replace it if it’s dirty. Another child (or a guest) can be responsible for removing trash after meals or from the bathrooms.

Your turn to be present.

The most important part of the holidays is that you be present. This means you’re present emotionally and mentally as well as physically. You can only do that when you enter in. When all is said and done, the lists don’t matter if you can’t be present with your family or guests. The Christmas season is about The Present, not the presents or the presence.  The season is about a spirit of joy and peace, and not about getting everything checked off the list.

Each of us has different responsibilities and different ways to do things. Find what works for you and tweak it until it’s right for you. I’d love to hear what works – and doesn’t work – for you. Send me an email or reply here if you’d like.

May this holiday season be your best one yet!

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