One of the best parts about the holiday season is planning parties, dinners, and get-togethers with your friends, family, and loved ones. For those of us who have anxiety, however, this can seem like a daunting task. What’s an anxious host(ess) to do?
First, don’t worry; it is possible to throw an enjoyable holiday event without having panic attacks or too much anxiety. Planning in advance, prioritizing your own self-care, and minimizing some common party-hosting mistakes can all help reduce your anxiety levels as you plan to host your upcoming get together.
Whether or not it’s your first time hosting a holiday party, here are our favorite tips for avoiding common holiday hosting mistakes so you can relax and enjoy your time with loved ones:
Mistake #1 - Not Considering Dietary Restrictions
This doesn’t mean you have to replace your turkey with tofurkey just to satisfy your one vegetarian guest, but it does mean that you should be considerate of the people who are attending your party. Be sure to provide options for guests with special diets, allergies, intolerance's, or other dietary restrictions. Each guest should have at least one food and beverage item that they can enjoy at your party. This includes having some non-alcoholic options for guests who don’t drink or are in addiction recovery.
If your guests have a broad spectrum of dietary restrictions, it might be easiest to host a potluck-style dinner. This empowers your guests to bring a dish that they know they can eat, while still having a table full of delicious food.
Mistake #2 - Being Ill-Prepared
Preparing your first big holiday meal is a major task that should not be underestimated. As mentioned above, you’ll want to consider the dietary restrictions of your guests. You’ll also want to factor in the amount of time (and money) you’ll need to cook, bake, and prepare the food.
In addition, you’ll want to make sure you have enough place settings and napkins for all guests. To add a bit of extra spark and style to your party, you can really have fun with the place settings and decor. One pro tip is to use Pinterest to gather holiday-themed recipes and curate some creative decorating ideas. Pinterest is free to use and you can create a party-planning “board” to contain all of your inspirations in one handy place.
Mistake #3 - Not Practicing Self-Care
If the holidays stress you out, you’re not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), “For many people, the idea of entering a crowded room and chatting up [guests] at a party, exchanging gifts with friends, traveling from home, or attending large family gatherings can produce intense anxiety, depression, or both.”
If you get social anxiety, you might consider inviting fewer guests and keeping your guest list to just close friends and family. Those with anxiety should also avoid drinking or using drugs during the holidays, as addiction and anxiety are often connected.
The Mayo Clinic recommends maintaining your healthy self-care routines throughout the holiday season. Get plenty of sleep and physical activity, and plan to have healthy snack options available so you don’t eat too many sweets.
Remember, your self-care on the day of the party also includes remembering to eat. If you’re like me and you sometimes become so busy that you don’t eat, consider setting a reminder on your phone. After all, nobody likes a “hangry” host…
Mistake #4 - Planning Too Much (Or Too Little)
A successful party has some thought behind it, but you don’t want overkill. Give your guests some time to relax and enjoy each other’s company rather than overwhelming them with too many activities and rules throughout the night. Your party should have an ideal mixture of age-appropriate games, food, and time to mingle.
Thanks to all the tips listed above, you won’t have to worry about throwing a dull party. It is possible to throw the ultimate holiday party or dinner while reducing your levels of stress and anxiety. Above all else, try to relax so you can enjoy this special time with your friends, family, and loved ones.
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