Holiday Mishaps

By Kristen Castillo

September 4, 2012 5 min read

While the holidays are fun and joyous, they can also be hectic and stressful.

Problems are bound to happen, and being prepared will help you handle the situation.

"Don't ever let a party problem ruin the holiday spirit," says Sarah Pease, owner of Brilliant Event Planning. "Problems are inevitable, but making a scene or dwelling on the issue isn't going to help anything and will only ruin the event. Handle the problem as swiftly as possible, and move on."

*Keep It Simple

Sure, Christmas is a great time to show off your latest culinary skills or your fancy dishware, but taking on too many tasks can be overwhelming. Plus, your best efforts could be problematic.

"Unless you are a professional, don't overcomplicate things," says Pease. "Keep dishes and their presentation simple and clean, and stick to ones that are tried and true. The last thing you want is for your food tower to collapse during its big reveal or a new souffl? recipe to fall flat."

*O Christmas Tree

A fresh Christmas tree can put everyone in a festive mood. Just make sure you do all the right things to avoid problems with the tree.

"Truly the biggest mistake most consumers make when purchasing their Christmas tree is bringing home the wrong size," says Jami Warner, executive director of the American Christmas Tree Association. "If you have 8-foot ceilings, you cannot buy an 8-foot tree or even a 7-foot tree. The stand will add a half foot, and you ultimately should have 2 feet of clearance between treetop and ceiling."

Buy a fresh-cut tree, and trim off an inch of the trunk before placing the tree in water. Remember that trees sold on lots are often drier than other trees because they're cut in advance.

You can avoid a tree fire risk by using LED lights.

"These lights are manufactured to 'burn' cool so they are not the fire risk that traditional bulbs can be," Warner explains. "And as a bonus, you will use less electricity and save money."

*The Guest List

You're planning for 20 guests, but 26 show up. Yikes -- that's a lot more people than you expected! You'll need more food, more seating and more patience.

"The last thing you want to do is make a scene. As a host, it is your responsibility to make all guests feel welcome, regardless of whether they are invited or not," says Pease. "If you don't draw attention to it, chances are no one else will, either. If they truly pose a problem to your party or you feel strongly that they should not be there, take them aside and politely ask them to leave."

*Food Problems

Food and drink are party essentials, so you'll start to worry if your supplies are running low. Before the party, stock up with extra snacks and drinks just in case you may need them.

"Always be prepared and buy more food than you think you are going to need in order to avoid this problem altogether," explains Pease. "But if you do run out, ask a good friend to run to the store to replace whatever it is that you're missing."

Other culinary worries include dealing with burned foods and dishes that don't look or taste as good as you expected. You could cater the party, but if that's not an option, limit your menu to room-temperature foods.


Much like food plans, it's a good idea to stock up on at least a few items that can be given in case you need a last-minute gift. Appropriate choices include gift cards, candies and wine.

If your office is hosting a holiday gift exchange, you don't have to feel obligated to participate, especially if the gift exchange is too pricey for your budget. You can always volunteer your time to plan the office party or you can share your craft or cooking skills with the group.

*Backup Plans

Every host tries to ensure the party goes as planned. Still, unwelcome challenges can be difficult to deal with. That's why it's so important to have a plan B.

"This ensures that you have a way to deal with issues as they arise, which minimizes your stress and leaves you feeling in control," explains Pease.

Above all, keep your cool and enjoy the holiday festivities.

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