“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” and for many of us, that means hosting guests in our homes as we catch up on family time and look forward to some of our favorite traditions. We may be going to see holiday lights, decorating the tree, making gingerbread houses or watching classic movies together. As with any special occasion, it is important to keep things in perspective as you cherish the sweet, sometimes hilarious and always entertaining moments you share with your in-laws. In preparation for the season, here are a few helpful thoughts:
- Communication. With a growing to-do list, it is important to check-in with your in-laws regarding their top priorities for the visit. What are they most looking forward to during their time at your home? You may be pleasantly surprised to learn they are hoping to spend a few nights watching old family movies or helping with dinner. Will they require transportation or would they rather take the subway? Do they wish to stay in your guest room or retreat to a hotel in the evening? Knowing in advance will help you to be an accommodating host while also tending to other family needs.
- Work as one. Although you may have a wonderful relationship with your in-laws, the holidays can be a trying time for you and your spouse if you are not on the same page. Agree on a plan as you work together as a team. You will both feel better when a clear agenda is in place. Remain flexible and open to adventure.
- Pencil in a quick break. When it comes to spending time with relatives, everyone has their own threshold. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, it is perfectly acceptable to step away for a little while. Give yourself some space each day to unwind and release holiday nerves. Whether you go for a morning run or sit down with a good book, these moments help to keep you grounded and engaged.
- Combine the old with the new. Bridge the gap by finding ways to incorporate their family customs into your own seasonal celebration. For instance, if your father-in-law can’t live without a time-tested oyster dressing, add it to your holiday menu. Make a point of blending old and new traditions.
- Divide and conquer. Along with a few family outings, lessen your load by spending quality time with each relative individually. Identifying the interests of each visitor will give you hints on what activities to select during their stay.
- Do not take advantage. Bombarding in-laws with too many requests can create conflict and even cut their visit short. Ask relatives to help with things that enhance their visit and make them feel part of the family. While they may enjoy spending time with their grandkids, hiring a babysitter for the children may also be a good idea if you would like to go out for a quiet dinner.
As you sit by the fire at the end of a full day, know that your efforts are noticed and appreciated. Treat yourself to a quiet morning in your pj’s after another memorable year.