Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s my Irish mantle I decorated for some holiday fun!
I am so loving my “mantle” I made on our kitchen cabinet. I had it decorated for Christmas, then winter, and now for Valentine’s! I am so glad I found a couple pieces that are easy to leave out and just change up a bit for the season or holiday. I put a new printable in my frame. I wrote new words on my chalk-painted wine bottle. And I put red bulbs in my vases. Whole new look with very little work! The flowers are not what I would have selected, but they were chosen especially for me by two very handsome little men, so I love them! Loving how fun my little mantle makes holidays!
One of the most joyful, and the most stressful, parts of the holidays is getting together with friends and family. The holidays are filled with parties, feasts, and other gatherings where friends and family come together. Odds are, at some point during the holiday season, you will be a guest at someone’s home and probably you will be hosting others in yours, as well.
When The Coach and I had Roo, we decided we wanted our kids to wake up in their own beds on Christmas morning. So we offered to host his family for Christmas Eve dinner and my family for Christmas Day dinner (and sometimes both families!). We also attend several family gatherings and try to connect with a few friends around the holidays.
Since no one wants the reputation of being that guest, or known as the hostess without the mostest, here are some tips for being an honored host and some for being a gracious guest.
If you’re the host:
- Keep it simple. Your guests aren’t coming for an extravagant affair, they are coming to socialize and enjoy the holiday spirit with those around them. I don’t plan activities for the kids (or the adults) at my house. The first year I hosted, I felt like I needed to have little trinkets for the kids, a plan and schedule for activities, and every appetizer and treat a guest could want. The kids just wanted to play, nothing happened according to schedule, and we were eating leftover snacks for at least a week. Lesson learned.
- The “appearance of clean” is enough. No one is going to be checking your baseboards for dust, studying your corners for cobwebs, or looking behind your toaster for crumbs. The first year we had everyone over for the holidays, I just about killed myself cleaning. Literally, I about had a nervous breakdown while Swiffering. Now, I give the bathrooms and kitchen a good cleaning, pick up the clutter, sweep the floors, and call it good. And no one has noticed, or at least they haven’t commented on, the cobwebs in the ceiling corners.
- Create an inviting, comfortable atmosphere. People are coming over to have a good time and relax with friends and family. Arrange your space to provide as much seating as you can. Fill your home with inviting scents (check out my Scentsy Giveaway for ideas!). Turn on lamps and low lighting, rather than glaring overhead lights.
- Prepare as much as you can ahead of time, so your time is more free to spend with your guests. Do as much food preparation as possible ahead of time. Do your cutting before guests arrive; have dishes prepared and in the fridge, ready to pop into the oven; have plates and cutlery out and ready ahead of time. Guests are more comfortable when you are able to hang out with them, rather than working away in the kitchen the whole time they are there.
- Put anything away that might be a problem. We have a rule with our kids when they have friends coming over – if they are going to be upset if a friend plays with a certain toy, then they have the option to put it away while friends are over. I also look around and put away toys that would not be good to play with in a crowd – PlayDoh, loud trucks, basketball hoops, etc. Finally, if your heart would be broken if an item got broken, you might want to consider putting it away rather than worrying every time someone is standing too close to it.
If you’re the guest:
- Offer to bring something. It’s better to ask the host what you can bring, rather than just offering a particular dish. The host is coordinating the menu, so ask her what she still needs or what would be helpful.
- Offer to help, or better yet, just start helping. Whenever anyone at my house asks if there is anything they can do to help, I usually always reply, “I think I’m all set.” However, there are always little things to be done that I’m not thinking of. What I appreciate so much more is when someone just jumps right in and does something that needs to be done. Start preparing plates for the kids or just start loading the dishwasher.
- Don’t overstay your welcome. Having been the host, I know by the end of a gathering, I am tired, still have cleaning and picking up that needs to be done, and kids to put to bed. Remember that the host would probably like a little down time. Instead of staying as late as your schedule allows, try to keep in mind the host’s schedule as well.
- Watch your kids! Nothing drives me crazier than seeing parents show up at a party or event and decide they are off duty. Kids get even more wound up at events during the holidays than they normally would, so they need more, not less, supervision. Keep an eye on kids and make sure they aren’t making huge messes in the host’s home or destroying what might be beloved toys (of the children or the adults!).
- Don’t forget the thank you! Hosting takes a lot of effort and work. A simple thank you is always appreciated. Consider bringing a small gift, like a bottle of wine or nice box of holiday candies for the host. You could also send a cute thank you after the event. I have a friend who always sends a picture from the event with my kids in it as a thank you. Have your kids make a card and include a kind, handwritten note inside. Make sure the host knows you appreciated the kindness.
What tips do you have for being a good host or a good guest?
Who doesn’t love having their home smell great? I think if your home smells fresh and inviting, it feels cleaner and more comfortable. That’s why I was so excited when one of my very favorite people, my sister Laura, became an Independent Consultant for Scentsy. And I am also very excited to be hosting a giveaway for these scent-sational products!
Scentsy warmers and plug ins are a safe alternative to candles, since they are wickless. There is no flame, and while the warmer and wax get hot, they are not hot enough to burn. The low watt bulb (15, 20 or 25 watts depending on the warmer) is similar to a night light. These are perfect for those of us with little ones at home. I love the smell of scented candles, but was always nervous about burning them when the kids were up. Then I was nervous about burning them when the kids went to bed in case I forgot to blow the candle out. These warmers I am comfortable using when the kids are up or asleep, so my house can smell great any time!
The wax comes in a bar with eight cubes, and each cube will last for 8-10 hours. Warmers only need 1-2 cubes in them at a time, and usually only one. The wax that Scentsy makes has a higher fragrance content than other brands of wax, creating a better, longer lasting scent. Perfect for those of us that love the luxury of scents wafting through our home, but can’t find room in the budget for all those pricey scented candles.
Scentsy offers more than 80 scent choices and a huge variety of warmer and plug in styles, so there is something for everyone’s décor and tastes. Also, aside from just the warmers and waxes, Scentsy offers Scent Circles (like car air fresheners that hang from a string), Room Spray, Travel Tins, Scent Paks and Fragrance Foam (hand sanitizer). One of my favorite products comes from the Layers line, which includes shower and bath items, lotions and sprays, perfume, hand soap and hand cream, and washer and dryer products to make your clothes smell great. Especially as the weather gets cold and my hands get dry, I am never without my Satin Sheets hand cream in my purse!
And I couldn’t go without mentioning the super cute Buddies! These adorable stuffed animals have a little pocket for a Scent Pak. I know my kids are getting one each for Christmas, and I have to admit I am a little jealous that they will have one and I won’t! Who says moms are too old to snuggle a stuffed animal at night? Especially when it includes a calming scent to help me forget the chaos of day! (And until the end of the year, these cute little guys are buy one, get one free!!)
If you would like the chance to win this fabulous Christmas countdown warmer and a wax scent of your choice, simply enter using the Raffle copter below. Entries are available for commenting, liking my page and Laura’s Scentsy page on Facebook, and for subscribing to Structure in an Unstructured Life. Make sure when you enter using the Rafflecopter, you are commenting, liking, or subscribing if you would like your entry to count when the winners are drawn! Good luck!!
A lot of people would say buying a new couch was not a good decision for The Coach and I to make. I can see why people might think that. We could have put the money toward bills, into savings, or bought something that was more of a need than a want.
The cost was only one factor in our decision. And honestly, for us, money has never been a top priority, which has been both a blessing and a curse.
In recent years, we have realized that priorities other than money and financial stability are much more important to us. Happiness has definitely moved up to a top priority for us, which is where our couch purchase comes in.
So how did a new couch make us happier? The Coach and I, like most married couples with young children, have struggled to find that time and the ways to connect in the midst of the chaos of this stage of life. We discovered, however silly it might sound, that sitting together in the evening made a big difference in how close we felt to one another.
We used to have the same routine every night. Get the kids to bed, pick up the living room and kitchen, then I would sit on the couch and he would sit in the chair. Sometimes we watched something together, sometimes one watched while the other was on the computer or reading. But we sat in separate spaces.
In an effort to work on our togetherness, we began sitting together on the couch in the evening. This made us feel much more like we were spending time together, even if we weren’t always doing the same activity. However, our ten year old couch was not comfy. For either of us.
So buying a new couch has made it far more comfortable to sit together in the evening. And sitting together in the evening, is a very good thing for our marriage. I don’t expect everyone to agree that buying a new couch was a good decision. I know a lot of people think it was a stupid reason to spend that much money. But for us, there isn’t a better reason than happiness to spend money.
Do you choose to spend money on things others think are stupid, or poor choices? What are your good reasons?