A few years ago I wrote a lighthearted but honest article about hosting holidays, a 700-word rant detailing how annoying relatives are, how stressful cooking for a crowd can be, and how badly I never want to do it again.
Then Covid-19 served up a major dose of reality I never expected when I wrote that article. Quarantine has since made me kind of miss those annoying relatives. I miss the challenge of cooking for a crowd. I miss hanging out with people who don’t live with me!
So now the holidays are approaching and although they won’t look quite the same this year, you should still plan to celebrate.
A little advice from me to you? Don’t volunteer! If you can pawn off hosting on another relative, go for it. After the year you had, you don’t need that kind of stress in your life.
I’m kidding! In all seriousness, choosing to host in your own home leaves you in control. You can make sure the crowd stays small. You can choose whether people should wear masks and how to social distance. You can even herd everyone outside if you (safely) set up heaters and the weather cooperates.
Once it’s been established that you can’t talk your sister into hosting after all, it’s all on you to keep people happy and safe for the holidays. So get planning. And instead of getting flustered by the seemingly impossible task, use it to your advantage! Here’s how.
- Go plastic. Frankly, I would never advise you to break out the fine China anyway, but some people like to be fancy on holidays. This year you have a better excuse than plain old laziness for using plastic dishes, cups, serving spoons, wine glasses, utensils, even table cloths. It’s all about staying sanitary in 2020! Embrace the disposables.
- Keep the guest list down. Another great thing about hosting this year is your ability to cut down on your guest list. Not only will this mean less food to make (or order) and less guests to keep happy, but you have the best reason ever to not invite cheap cousin Jen, who walks in with boxed wine and thinks she’s walking out with a Tupperware of leftovers.
- Invite virtual guests. You know those relatives who really bug you? Tell them you’re keeping the gathering small but they are welcome to join via Zoom or Facetime. This way they are technically “invited” but can’t complain about the food or nag you about the dusty fan blades you forgot to clean. If they really start to annoy you, just pretend the connection is bad and hang up.
- Emphasize that guests should stay home if they’re not feeling well. Don’t feel guilty reminding your guests that we are in a pandemic and if they show up coughing all over grandma, they’re officially out of the family. This goes for the host as well. If you’re not feeling great, you need to cancel your shindig. Everyone will get over it. On the plus side, you’d be able to relax and spend the day in your jammies, watching TV and napping instead of cooking and cleaning for 48 hours straight. On the negative side, you might have coronavirus. Feel better!
- Avoid holiday crowds at the supermarket. Most grocery stores will either deliver or offer convenient pickup services. This kills two birds with one stone: you avoid catching Covid while you also avoid a never-ending conversation about toilet paper shortages and people who don’t wear masks with a stranger in the checkout line. Just make sure you order in advance. A lot of people will have the same idea and time slots fill up fast.
- Stock up on hygiene essentials. Shop as far in advance as possible for antibacterial soap, hand sanitizers, tissues, wipes, etc. The more your house reeks of bleach and rubbing alcohol, the more comfortable your guests will feel.
- Make the most of a small gathering. Enjoy the intimacy of your gathering while you can (creepy Uncle Gus will probably be back next year). Break out the board games, the playing cards, the good wine, whatever. Just make sure your guests are kept entertained despite the absence of half the family.
I know I love to joke around, but I really am looking forward to spending the holidays with my family! Covid has kept us all apart for far too long. If it means taking every precaution in the world, I plan to safely enjoy spending the holidays with them this year – even if it means I’m on hostess duty after all.
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