Many of us are busy this time of year, baking food, wrapping gifts, and hosting parties. With so much going on, it's easy to say the words "Life doesn't need to be stressful," but much, much harder to live them. Let's look at some practical ways to reduce stress in the art of party-giving.
Clean in advance. Three or four days in advance, clean the rooms that experience less traffic. Dust doesn't accumulate that quickly, especially if you don't have people constantly walking through.
Have guests help with the food. Trust me, your Aunt Marie will be thrilled that you liked her jello salad enough to ask.
Pick recipes that don't require last-minute prep. Plenty of food can be thrown in the crock-pot or oven and wait until you're ready to serve.
Consider ambiance. Light candles and play soft background music. Have a hot drink station. Your guests will want to curl up for a good chat.
Be present. The purpose of having a party is for you to be with friends. That can't happen if you're in the kitchen fretting about the turkey or cracking ice cube trays. Your friends care more about you than the food anyway.
Keep things simple. The best parties are simple parties. You don't need a five-course meal and a list of party games. It is enough to just enjoy each other over appetizers or a simple crock-pot soup.
Your invitation style reflects the formality of your party. If you're going to send paper invitations, don't meet your guests at the door in denim and a T-shirt. If you want a casual party, choose email or even texting and word-of-mouth.
Remember, God didn't give us His Son so that we would have to host a lot of stressful parties to celebrate. The richest parts of Christmas are the simplest things...like that simple and wonderful story of love so many years ago in the the little town of Bethlehem.
Model your parties after the simplicity of that first Christmas and you can't go wrong.