Find Pleasure in a House Full of Guests

By Alia Hoyt

We’re supposed to be feeling jolly, giving and thankful during the holidays, but hosting guests often causes the opposite reaction. A little bit of stress and anxiety are totally understandable, considering all of the elbow grease and time that goes into preparing the average (read: enormous) holiday meal, getting the house ready, maintaining it for guests and entertaining said guests. No matter how much you love your visitors, it’s very likely that at some point your eyelid might start to twitch uncontrollably. Before you put out your “No Vacancy” shingle, however, take a look at these suggestions for enjoying and embracing, rather than stressing over, your role as holiday host:

But... it’s so much work to get the house ready. I used to clean like a maniac when I was expecting company. The house was invariably a wreck again five minutes later. No one’s going to walk around with a white glove making sure you’ve disinfected the baseboards. Settle for making the place presentable, provide clean linens, slap on a sincere smile and you’re good to go.

But... my [insert relative here] drives me crazy. Sometimes even people we love make us batty. Instead of dreading the inevitable snarky remark, change your mindset to a more positive channel! “Do psychological preparation and make a decision that you’re unoffendable,” says psychotherapist, life coach and upwave reviewer Terri Cole, LCSW. “If you get offended, you’re playing into the end result that you say you don’t want. Choose loving. You can either be right or loving; you can’t be both.” So when someone pokes you, don’t take the bait. You’ll be happier for it!

But... everything has to be perfect. We often put so much pressure on ourselves during the holidays to be the second coming of Martha Stewart that we forget to enjoy ourselves. “People go in with a structured idea of how it needs to be for it to be successful,” explains Cole. “None of that is what the holiday is actually about.” Think less about the bells and whistles and more about spending time with guests you don’t get to see very often. I bet they want that more than those origami napkins you were planning to fashion.

But... I don’t deal well with chaos. Usually, houseguests only stick around for a few days, so the added noise and clutter is temporary. Focus less on the mess and more on the many joys, like watching your kids cavort with their cousins. Sweating the small stuff will only stress you out, and most medical health professionals agree that stress can result in both physical and emotional damage.

But... these visits never end well. Again, your outlook can seriously affect how things turn out. “What you expect is what you create,” says Cole. “Focus on what’s right about the people who are there, rather than what’s annoying.” It's all a matter of perspective.

When you feel yourself tensing up, take a few deep breaths, relieve some of the pressure by delegating duties and remember that the holidays are about celebration, love and togetherness. Where better to be together than under your roof?