Last month we talked about how to make Thanksgiving dinner a little easier. This month we’re going to help you tackle a whole different challenge: Hosting Christmas! *Queue the choir.* Hosting for Christmas is a lot like hosting for Thanksgiving, but at the same time, it’s totally different. A big difference is, in most households, Christmas has a huge cultural impact. TV shows, commercials, magazines, movies and everything in between portray images and scenes of “the perfect Christmas.” If you’ve ever seen “Christmas Vacation” with Chevy Chase, you know holiday gatherings are usually far from perfect, but that doesn’t mean they’re at all unenjoyable. Here are some ways you can keep your cool and enjoy yourself when hosting this holiday season.

 

Know Your Guests

 

It’s all fun and games until you accidentally bring up a forbidden topic at dinner, or until you serve a dish that makes one of your guests swell up from an allergic reaction. Use your knowledge of the past to provide special arrangements some guests might need. Is there someone at dinner who can’t eat dairy? Be sure not to mention sensitive topics either. Aunt Paula REALLY doesn’t like when you bring up that one time last Christmas when she broke the recliner from leaning too far back while reaching for another Christmas cookie. Don’t be afraid to ask your guests questions about how you can make their visit more accommodating. Of course, you’ll never be able to please everybody, but if you can make the holidays a little more comfortable, do it.

 

Maximize Together Time

 

Rarely does the enjoyment of a holiday get-together equate to the amount of money spent. Here’s another hot take: The enjoyment of a holiday doesn’t equate to the amount thought put into it either. It ultimately comes down to food, activities and the interactions between your guests. Board games can be fun for some, but that doesn’t mean you need to force a board game down the throat of a less than enthused relative. Rather, a simple game of White Elephant could be a great, easygoing way to get everyone interacting with each other.

 

Plan Ahead but Let Things Go

 

Preparation is always a requirement. You’ll want to create a budget to track your spending on food, gifts and whatever else you might need. If you’re planning on renting party supplies (like one of our awesome popcorn machines), do it well in advance, so you won’t have to worry about complications. Clean the house and leave it spacious enough for your guests. After you’ve made all your preparations, remember this: There’s going to be at least one thing that doesn’t go as planned, but it will all be fine! Aunt Paula might break another chair, or Aunt Cindy’s purse dog might track dirt in the house. Minor inconveniences are bound to happen. Save yourself the worry and let it go. You’ll have all the time in the world to get things back to normal afterward. All you need to do is focus on making memories.