The holiday season can be immensely stressful, even though it's supposed to be a time for light, peace and reflection. For many people, the season requires a crush of holiday travel, speeding through visits with family and financial expenses that strain the household budget -- from gifts to plans for entertaining to cooking the big holiday meal. Even attending parties and kids' school holiday concerts can be anxiety inducing with every day of the week packed with plans and obligations. This revved-up season begins before Thanksgiving in many cases, so it's weeks upon weeks of stress, rushing and spending.
It's no wonder that so many people experience higher stress during the holidays, and when you add in poor nutrition from those holiday party menus, as well as lack of sleep from all of the necessary cleaning and gift-wrapping, the holidays can be a marathon of pressure and exhaustion.
One solution to this holiday crush of activity is to move a holiday event to the week after Christmas. It might be your neighborhood "ugly Christmas sweater" party. Or even Christmas dinner itself, with more members of your family able to make it to your house once their travel to in-laws has been achieved the week before. Moving your party to a quieter, calmer, post-frazzle date can let you recharge and actually enjoy your get-together.
Here are some of the top advantages of planning a post-Christmas party:
--You and your guests are less pressured and free of the swirl of daily obligations and activities. With the wave of parties over with, you won't all be glued to your cellphones, handling the business of travel plans, canceled flights, emails from hosts, and other holiday party and gift business.
--Your kids may be off from school, which means they can help with party crafts, cooking, setting up, and other tasks. These can be made into fun, family shared activities.
--College-aged kids may be home as well, enabling them to see all of the relatives, and also help with your party preparations.
--Your holiday decor is still up and ready for your party guests' admiration. There's no exhaustion from last-minute decorating the night before your party, or before your houseguests arrive for the week prior to the party.
--Travel is often much easier for your guests, since they're not driving on highways filled with party-hopping guests or slow-moving traffic. Flights, too, may be less likely to be delayed with the volume of travelers diminished.
--With 50 to-dos off your list, you'll have more energy to plan and not be the simmering, resentful host whose negative energy is palpable at the party. Fatigue can do that to you.
--You can use the Christmas gifts you received, such as new wine glasses, a new punch bowl, an espresso maker, a cute holiday-themed cupcake tree, and more party ware.
--You can set out all of those bottles of wine that you received as presents during the holiday season, cutting down on your party beverage needs and expenses.
This new plan might be so popular that it becomes a new tradition, enjoyed by you and by your guests, who all relish the chance to just relax and enjoy everyone's company. Your party may be seen as a "saving the best for last" get-together.
One quick note that party planner Jenny Orsini suggests: Send out a save the date card or email to each of your guests far in advance of the holidays -- at least eight weeks prior to your party -- so that your guests can make arrangements to attend and have a great post-holiday event to look forward to. Send out your invitations at least six weeks prior, with an RSVP date of four weeks prior, Orsini says, so that you know how many people you'll have to cook for, or set a place at the table for, if you'll need to rent chairs, etc. All of your party details will then be set and secured way in advance, which is far better than fielding RSVPs during the hectic holiday season.
And make the party food easier on yourself by setting up a buffet and several stations around your home so that once the food is out, it's out. You can certainly heat up a fresh batch and replenish halfway through the party, but a buffet is much less work than serving course after course of a holiday sit-down meal.
And be your own best friend during this event. Let yourself relax and enjoy your guests. Don't sweat the minor details, and don't talk about how stressful the holidays were for you. Just enjoy and your guests will, too.