The Hostess’ Guide to the Holiday Madness

Little-known fact: June Cleaver, Martha Stewart, and I swap notes.

I may be a terrible housewife, but I’m a master of feeding people and throwing baller parties. Last year, after moving into our house, we hosted a killer game-themed housewarming party for nearly 60, Second Thanksgiving for 15, Christmas Day for 30, and a small New Year’s Eve with family. This year we hosted a birthday party for 30, Halloween party for 40, and are planning another Christmas Day extravaganza in addition to game nights and dinners throughout the year. I’ve become skilled in the art of hosting parties.

I’ve put together this convenient,  easy-to-follow guide for hosting parties, which is sure to make your holiday merry and bright, your birthday magical and special, and your perfect little dinner party a night to remember.

The hostess' guide to handling holiday madness

2 Months Out

1. Pick a date. This may be easy if you’re hosting on a specific holiday, but with families freaking everywhere, you may host Christmas on the 20th or the 31st. I won’t judge. You do you.

  1. Delay. Put off most of the planning as long as you can. Spend time pinning shit to your Pinterest board, knowing you’re never actually going to do any of that nonsense. Late invites are likely to shrink the number of people who show up.

1 Month Out

3. Start inviting people. Use multiple modes of communication to make it as confusing and hard to track as you can. For extra planning points, recruit your partner/boyfriend/spouse/person/fiancée(God, that word is WEIRD) to invite his family or friends you don’t follow on Facebook. You already know you’re screwed.

2 Weeks Out

4. Secure RSVPs. Wait for no one to respond,  and then start the second round of messaging. Texts, calls, private messages, tags, etc. Leave no communication stone unturned. Just don’t add them to your Jamberry Group.

5. Meal plan. Decide what you’re going to feed all these people you’ve invited to your home. Dole out responsibilities and assignments if you’re potlucking. Get as creative or unoriginal as you want. You’re hosting this fiesta.

6. Start writing to-do lists. Put together a shopping list for groceries, a DIY list for crafty shit you want to do, a cleaning list for your boyfriend/partner/husband to follow while you’re at work or the grocery store (saving him from all the people). You can use Google Drive, a pen and paper, a blank Word document or some fancy pants list you downloaded from a way more organized blogger than me. Me? I have lists everywhere. In e-mail drafts, in notebooks, and on the back of random papers from work. I typically forget them all by the time I head to the grocery store or start cleaning.

7. Decorate your home. Get your holiday decor up whether you’re putting up Christmas tree in every room, creating a disgusting murder scene in the bath tub, or setting up a spider’s den in your bathroom. If it’s not a holiday, make sure you’ve got all your art hung, ordered the right colored table cloth from Amazon, planned for balloons and other decorative touches.

Just hope and pray the balloons don't end up in the updraft of your ceiling fan.

Just hope and pray the balloons don’t end up in the updraft of your ceiling fan.

1 Week Out

8. Keep texting and calling people. We all know half your guest list isn’t going to respond. That’s okay, you love me them anyways.

9. Write new to-do lists. Don’t tell me you know where the originals are. I know you’re lying. Go ahead and make new ones. Even if you forgot the original items on the list, you’ll think of new ones.

10. Start those crafty projects you said you were going to do.  You want to make special scrabble Christmas ornaments for everyone at your holiday party? You know what? Fuck it. Just go to the store and buy some cookies. Then, eat the cookies. Then, continue on with the rest of this list. You don’t need that kind of stress in your life right now.

5 Days Out

11. Shop. Try to get as much grocery shopping out of the way as you can. Stock up on beer, wine, pop, snacks (you’ll need these later), and cream cheese (this is the only necessity with party apps. You can mix anything with cream cheese for a magical creation sure to impress every guest). Hold off on anything you think should be fresh, such as fruit or veggies. No one wants stinky cauliflower.

3 Days Out

12. Procrastinate. It’s time to start heavy duty lifting and really get your ass in gear. But you DEFINITELY need a break first. Perhaps you’ll watch  Kimmy Schmidt or Liz Lemon on Netflix to get you in the spirit of whatever event you’re hosting. There’s a little Kimmy or Liz for everyone, guys.  Pop open one of the bags of chips you were reserving for your event, eat candy for dinner from Dylan’s Candy Bar (OMG) and work on your night cheese. The party is happening whether your floor boards are dusted or not.

1 Day Out

13. Start cleaning. Spend a little time casually wiping counters, cleaning out your fridge, rearranging your collection of board games, video games, movies, CDs, whatever, moving piles from one room to another in an effort to clean. You still have 28 hours before this party is in full gear.

14. Prep as much food as you can. It’s time to make magic happen with the cream cheese, folks. Whip up a few dips while your boyfriend vacuums the floor with your fancy pants Shark vacuum. Cut veggies. Arrange fruit displays. For the love of all things, DO NOT CUT THE CHEESE YET. That is a last-minute priority in order to ensure the best possible cheese flavors.

Prepare your veggie crudite the night before to save time for your uber panic when hosting a party.

Prepare your veggie crudite the night before to save time for your uber panic when hosting a party.

Day of the Party

15. Freak out. You’re not ready. Your house is certainly not ready. You haven’t showered since your Liz Lemon marathon and it’s REALLY time to move it. You know nothing helps a situation more than a serious panic attack. Get ready for it. It’s coming.

16. Quick Clean. You don’t have time to clean the way you want, so start throwing everything out of sight. Throw shoes down into the basement, hide baskets of mail under your buffet table (See why I told you to invest in that floor length table cloth on Amazon, now?), take stakes of clothing/clutter/whatever up to your bedroom or the guest room or the office. Just get it out of here, already.

17. Finish food. Whip together as much of the food as you can before you have to start cleaning up the kitchen. The cheese should be cut about 30 minutes before guests arrive (and you shouldn’t let it sit out for more than four hours, so plan for a second batch if it’s a long party.

Put the cheese out about 30 minutes before the start of a party in order to have the best tasting cheese (room temperature).

18. Beg for reinforcements. Hope and pray you have parents like I do who show up 45 minutes before a party to help with this process. Sure, you won’t remember that your mom threw your keys in the cabinet with the canned goods, but no one else saw them cluttering up your breakfast bar, amiright?

Game Time

19. Relax. Breath a sigh of relief and pour your first of many glasses of wine/champagne/beer/vodka/whatever. Give yourself a pat on the back for only crying three times instead of five like last time. You’re getting better at this game.

Friends, how do you handle the stress of hosting parties? Are you a killer host? What do you try to do whenever you host an event? Tell me your secrets before I pull all my hair out!

This post is brought to you by the fine people at Netflix, without whom I may never procrastinate. While I wasn’t paid in dollars to create this blog post, I did receive a subscription to Netflix and a device on which to watch my favorite shows (hello Liz Lemon – I love you!). As always, you get my opinions and ideas, which I was not paid to change. Obviously.

Netflix Stream Team

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

How to Make Moving as Painless as Possible…Without Killing Your Significant Other

As you probably already know…we moved. Of course, most of our stuff is trapped in a gargantuan storage unit until we have our own house to put it all in. The last month has been a stressful disarray of OCD-gone-wrong. In order to make moving easirr for you than it was for me, I recommend the following. I got it all wrong the weeks before moving…but on moving day? I nailed it.

The weeks before moving…

  1. Tell your significant other that moving day is a whole week before it actually is. To do this, you’ll have to be in charge of the movers (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED). That way, when he waits until the last minute, you still have a whole week.

  2. Throw. Everything. Away. No, seriously. Throw it all put, because then you won’t realize the movers have zero room for your crap and end up making 5+ additional trips after the big day.

  3. Hire professionals to pack your shit. I mean, pack your lady things and personal shit, but have someone else individually  wrap every piece of glassware, dishware, chatchkis etc, so you don’t feel like your significant other is standing there watching you do all the work and telling you to throw the glassware away.

On moving day…

  1. Make sure everything you’ll need immediately is in your car. The movers don’t need to deal with that shit and you won’t have to dig through their pile of boxes to find it.

  2. Forget every preconceived notion that you had about the move. Drop all expectations except that your shit will be somewhere else in a few short (or long if you don’t follow these explicit instructions) hours.

  3. Put your significant other in charge of the movers. You no longer have a chair to sit in, and they’re about to take the dresser you’ve been sitting on while Facebooking. You probably dropped and cracked your phone while trying to entertain yourself…you don’t need to watch over them. Because you followed tip number 2.

  4. Go shopping. If you did, in fact, crack your phone, you’ll probably need a new one. And new home means you need some new clothes to put in it…especially if you threw everything away.

  5. Go out to lunch. If your brother’s a bartender, visit him and tell him it’s moving day and you’ve relinquished control. He’ll be horrified…first because you left your boyfriend in charge, then when you tell him you paid for movers. He’ll get over it and tell you to have a cheeseburger.

  6. Head to the new residence just as the movers are finishing up. They’ll be able to unload your car before they  roll out.

With these easy steps, you, too can avoid the drama of moving.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Subliminal Messages About Comfort Food and Why I’m Going Back to the Gym Tomorrow

Thanks to the wonderful people at Skinny Scoop for taking a chance with an unknown kid. By sponsoring this post about comfort food, they’ve helped support my Midnight Moon addiction.

I’ve been consuming a LOT of comfort food lately. Maybe it’s the cold. Maybe it’s the stress of working and blogging and dealing with Chicago winter. Either way, I’ve definitely been eating a lot of my favorites. So much that I am probably going to start one of them there fancy diets pretty soon here…I even signed up for a personal trainer at the gym. If that doesn’t make me show up, I don’t know what will.

My theory on the gym? If I go, and genuinely work out on the regular, I can still consume some of my favorites (in moderation). Because giving up on queso seems wrong. And if anyone remembers that one time I gave cheese up for Lent? And HOW well that worked out for the practice of Lent (sorry, Mom)?

The other night, I had a decadent and ridiculous grilled cheese sandwich that I’m going to have to make again and destroy your diet with a recipe and pictures because holy crap was it that GOOD. It was like breakfast on crack. For dinner.

Last night? A charcuterie platter before dinner. Mac and cheese. Some of Brian’s beef Wellington. I didn’t even bother with dessert. I was stuffed.

Twice in the last two months, I’ve been caught playing chocolate roulette…like a a gambling addict only with chocolate instead of money.

What are some of your favorite comfort foods?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things I do when I’m Stressed Out

I’m an OCD type A creative with a tendency to become stressed out about…well…anything. If you were creative and had that pesky type A need for perfection, you’d get stressed out too.

Someone used to tell me that I was wound tighter than an 8-day clock…and maybe I was…am…I mean…little things really get to me. Like when a fellow writer makes the presumption that I’m going to butcher their content. And tells me as such. In no kinder words.

But instead of rambling on about being stressed out, I thought I’d offer my wisdom and tell you how I handle stress in my life.

Things that help me unwind

  • Quiet time is really important. Meditation. Snuggling. Napping. Any of these things can help calm me down. Brian’s really good at dragging me over to the couch and just…sitting with me until I’m less frazzled.
  • Mindless activity. I used to play stupid games like Angry Birds or Bejeweled or long ago-Snood. Now, I go on Pinterest. I scroll through pages and pages of images, quotes, comics and more and pin or not. It doesn’t really matter to me.
  • Drink a bottle of wine. Without a glass. Sometimes with crying. Sometimes with angry rants. Sometimes quietly.
  • List-making. I am a list-maker through and through. If I can plan it out on a list, I feel instantly better about it. If I make the list 7 more times, even better.
  • Think happy thoughts. What’s coming? What’s good? What’s exciting? I often imagine my life as a famous Chrissy. (But not those other famous Chrissy’s. They kind of suck. Famous ME Chrissy. Quirks and all.)
  • Take a bath. A delightful bubble bath with colorful bubbles from LUSH. Because I’m obsessed.
  • Plot my revenge. Did you really think that I wouldn’t have this on my de-stress list? Really? Because I’m that NICE girl? Just because I’m NICE doesn’t mean I can’t dream evil dreams. About revenge.

I know that there are more, but I’d rather open this up to discussion. What do YOU did when you’re stressed out? What truly calms you down?

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!