The “over the river and through the woods” season is here, which means a lot of visiting, traveling, house guests and more. Yes, it is the most wonderful time of year, but it is also the most wonderfully stressful time of year. With family and friends visiting for the season, there may be those unavoidable tense moments. Here are some tips to keep things calm and conflict-free through your holiday visits.
Be upfront: If you have family visiting from out-of-town and past experience shows that after (insert number of days) tension starts to run high and patience runs low, then plan ahead for this. Have separate plans that shorten the visit, so maybe shorter is actually sweeter. Also, consider planning outing events before the actual visit. Have an outing or two planned that allows for both fun and down time. Be flexible so that both the host and visitors enjoy themselves, and certainly don’t dig your heels into your idea of fun. Be open to trying new things, yet keep from pushing something that someone truly dislikes.
Pets: This should be discussed and agreed upon by all. If the host says Fido, Kitty or Rudolph are not welcome them, kindly abide by their request with no resentment or ill feelings. Not everyone is in love with the idea of hosting someone else’s pet, even if they are a pet lover themselves. Also, health takes priority. If allergies or asthma issues are present for anyone, especially children and elderly, always put that in the forefront of the decision-making process.
Children and elderly and all in between: Hold on loosely to schedules. As visitors, do not expect your usual children’s nap and eating schedule to be as strictly enforced as if at home. And as the hostess, be certain you provide opportunity for them to stay as close to their “normal” schedule as possible. Flexibility is key here. Also, allow for down time for the elderly and even a quick afternoon nap for all during this busiest time of year.
“Good Night” tips: It is nice to have sleeping arrangements in order ahead of time, especially for young children and older visitors. For grandma or grandpa, try to avoid having them sleep on the couch if there is a kiddo’s bed that can be given up for a few nights. Have the room stocked with bottled water, some choice books and magazines, and small travel necessities such as toothbrush, toothpaste, hand lotions and tissues. Extra blankets and pillows are always welcome, as well as sharing where towels, etc. are located. Also, do not give the master bedroom for your guests to sleep; they will inevitably feel like they are putting you out, no matter how much you insist they are not.
Come bearing gifts: Consider bringing a small, thoughtful gift for your host such as myrrh or
frankincense or, better yet, the newest best-selling novel or a handful of the trendiest magazines (can you say Magnolia or Pioneer?) Also, monogrammed towels or seasonal candles for your hostess are nice options.
Time apart: As a guest, go for a long drive or other choice activity away from the homestead to give your host some time where they can be in their home without entertaining.
Be a tidy guest: Keep your room or area tidy by making your bed, having the floor picked up and keeping the bathroom area as tidy as possible. Just simple tidying up can go a long way. Keep your eyes open, too, and if you see the dishwasher needs loaded or toys need picked up, then jump in and do it. As the host, do not be drill sergeant-like and expect the house to free from toys or other items brought along that may be in use throughout the day.
Food: Consider dietary needs of all. If you have very strict dietary needs (vegan, lactose intolerant, gluten-free, allergies, etc.), share that with your host. Also, notify them that you are bringing some of your own supplies (without over-running the kitchen) to help take the pressure off of them.
If you tend to sleep in and your guests are early risers, have the coffee ready to just turn on, and share with your guests that they are welcome to help themselves to muffins, bagels, etc. (show them where all is located.) Encourage them to start the coffee and help themselves before you arise. As the hostess, consider planning one nice breakfast spread to spoil your guest.
Tentatively plan dinners so that there is some idea of what dinner will look like and be flexible as a guest. You may not love lasagna (who doesn’t, though!?), but do love and appreciate that your host is cooking for you and planning dinner. As a guest, consider taking your hostess to dinner once, even if for a simple pizza night or subs.
Avoid tricky topics: If Aunt Lisa tends to lean right and Uncle Tony leans left, then do your very best to avoid politics and other hot topic issues like, “Who do you think will win in 2020?” Fire rod topics should be strictly avoided to keep the conversation flowing instead of the tears.
Laugh and have fun: Play board and card games, rent a movie, watch family movies, and just enjoy each other’s company. Make memories and treasure each other and your precious time together.
Mind your manners: Remember pleasantries, especially during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. Words like “thank you,” “please” and even “I am sorry” go a long way in keeping everyone jolly and joyous.
So let the hot chocolate and eggnog flow, and enjoy the season of visiting by embracing these simple tips that will have all laughing, fa-la-laing and ho-ho-hoing all the season through.
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