Tuesday, December 20, 2011

THT Xmas: Easy "Extra Family" Gathering Hostess Tips!

So how many of you have divorced parents? *raises hand* I can legitimately claim going through 3 divorces before I was ever even married myself. (And one of them resulted in their getting back together 2 years later!) It's already frustrating to arrange to see your family when you're significantly other'd, add in multiple groupings of family and OH MAH GOD it is a pain in the hindquarters! One unfortunate side effect that has happened is that I rarely get to actually spend the holiday with my siblings, as we share a dad, but we grew up with our mothers. Our two mothers get along fine, but they have their own families they spend the holidays with, so getting us together on the actual holiday was a rare occurrence indeed. Same frustration for extended family from random sides of the family. Or hell, sometimes your families just suck all the fun out of the holidays and you'd RATHER spend the time with your friends, but your family would never let you get away with it. (This isn't the case for my family sitch, but sometimes I almost wish my friends didn't go to their families that stress them out and could just come hang out with us, y'know?)

Solution? Have a little pre-Xmas Xmas gathering! (Or pre-Holiday-You-Recognize, sorry! I celebrate Xmas, but I know people celebrate the other ones.) If you have agreeable people, you could even make it a "traditional" Festivus party! ;D

How we did it:
  • 2 weeks before, I texted the people who we wouldn't for-sure see on the actual holidays we celebrate to see if they'd be free either day of the weekend we wanted to try and arrange for gathering. Found out who was in, and who was out. Asked everyone to bring something to share, but we'd also provide basic beverages and foodstuffs as well, and agreed that this would be when we exchanged prezzies. 
  • Day before, wrapped all the gifts of people who were coming and pre-made any food that could be pre-made so it wouldn't drive me nuts the next day. Seriously, when I'm hosting, it's all about what can be made with as little attention paid to it the day of - crockpot, pre-made, or takes-5-minutes-to-make is how I do. As for decorating, well, the apartment's already decorated for the holidays so all I did was add a little decor for the table (pictured above). That was just carefully layering ornaments in my cylinder vases - man, for only paying a $1, I freakin' LOVE those things, man. So many uses!
  • Day of: Give the house a good once-over (we've been keeping it tidy regularly, so all we really needed to do was wipe down surfaces, dishes and garbage, and vacuum), and dolled myself up in the easiest way possible. Seriously, I have my own primping rules for being a presentable hostess while not stressing myself out (noticing a theme here? I totally overthink so much crap, I have to force compromises on myself so I enjoy the hosting instead of over-stressing it): slightly glammed-up basic face by adding a darker brown eyeshadow in the corner of the crease and slightly heavier mascara, the nicest hairstyle I can do that takes 10 minutes TOPS to style, and one of my go-to "hostess outfits" - nice elastic-waist black pants and one of several nice jersey tops, or a sweater dress over leggings. I always end up looking nice and feeling good without freaking out.
    We also dressed Daisy, but she wasn't into it. At least we left out the beard this year!
  • The Menu (that we provided, doesn't include what was brought):
    The Spread
    • Appetizers: Ham pinwheels (flour tortillas spread with flavored cream cheese, add lunchmeat ham and lettuce, roll up and wrap with plastic wrap, chill for at least 2 hours, then slice up); cream cheese with hot pepper jelly on top, served with wheat thins
      • My ex-stepmom D. made crockpot meatballs and they were DELISH - pre-made meatballs with Trader Joe's BBQ sauce and half a jar of orange marmalade. SO GOOD, they smelled fantastic, too. 
    • Main Meal: Slow-cooker Carnitas, refried beans and fixins' 
    • Dessert: Oreo Mint cookies (Hey, they taste good, amiright?)
    • Beverages: Water, Hot Cocoa Bar (Hot Cocoa and Liqueurs to mix in), Wine
  • Entertainment: Our favorite holiday cartoons ("Charlie Brown Christmas" and "How the Grinch Stole Christmas") and movies, holiday music, and our own company! Seriously, my siblings and I have to watch those two cartoons together or it doesn't quite feel like Christmas, at least for me. (If we can't watch it together, I'll at least watch them on my own - they're my favorites!) We also exchanged gifts, which was awesome. Everyone liked their gifts from me, thank goodness!
 Of course, there's always the alternative of hosting an actual dinner party, but we don't have the space for that. My friends do, though, so we're having a potluck the day before Christmas Eve! I'm excited - we get to enjoy our friends for the holiday before we spend the holidays running around to our various family gatherings. =D Hope you find a way to celebrate with EVERYONE you love this holiday season!

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