Hosting family and friends for the holidays is a tall task. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, during the Christmas/New Year holiday period, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a destination 50 miles or more away) increases by 23 percent compared to the rest of the year.
While many of those traveling will stay in hotels, many more will enjoy the hospitality of loved ones. Holiday hosting can make an already hectic time of year that much busier, as hosts must prepare their homes for guests in the midst of holiday shopping excursions, office Christmas parties and social engagements around the neighborhood and at kids’ schools. Holiday hosting does not have to run hosts ragged in the days leading up to guests’ arrival.
The following are a handful of ways to simplify holiday hosting.
Plan menus well in advance of guests’ arrival
One of the more time-consuming tasks associated with holiday hosting is cooking. Hosts who plan their holiday menus in advance can get started on prep work several weeks before guests arrive. Choose dishes that can be prepared in advance and then frozen, so dishes need only be defrosted and cooked once guests arrive.
Let guests pitch in
Some hosts may feel obligated to cater to all of their guests’ needs during the holiday season. But many guests want to pitch in any way they can. If guests offer to do some holiday baking or take the family out for dinner during their visits, allow them to do so. This takes a little responsibility away from hosts while also allowing guests to show how much they appreciate the hospitality of their hosts.
Plan a night out
Another way to make hosting friends and family for the holidays less taxing is to plan a night out for everyone. In lieu of cooking at home, dine out at an affordable, family-friendly restaurant before taking everyone to a local holiday light display or bazaar. This gets everyone out of the house and allows hosts to showcase their hometown pride.
Rotate hosting duties
The holiday season is full of traditions, and some hosts may feel beholden to tradition and offer to host each year. But family traditions are about getting together, not about getting together in a particular place each year. Families who rotate hosting duties each year can ensure one member of the family does not feel overwhelmed time and time again. And sharing hosting duties means someone new gets to avoid the hectic holiday traveling season each year.
Holiday hosting is an enjoyable yet sometimes difficult task. Fortunately, hosts can take steps to simplify holiday hosting without sacrificing tradition.
Vacations are a great opportunity for families or individuals to recharge. But especially active vacationers often return from their trips in need of rest, as planning may have taken its toll or schedules loaded with too many activities might have left little time for R&R. Those willing to simplify their vacations may find their excursions provide the rest they need and the energizing boost they can make use of upon returning from their destinations.
Leave work behind
The United States is one of the few countries that does not guarantee paid days off. The Center for Economic and Policy Research says one in four working Americans do not get paid time off. The employment site Glassdoor notes that among those who do get paid vacations, 75 percent of employees chose not to use all of their time in 2013. By comparison, Canadians get an average of 19 days of vacation time per year. Stress about making up work or falling behind makes some professionals worry about using their vacation time, and those who do travel may stay connected to the office in some shape or form. Splitting time between leisure and work responsibilities on a vacation can be taxing and take away from the time you need to relax and recharge. Cut work ties and immerse yourself in the vacation experience.
Use a travel agent
Using a travel agent to plan your vacation can remove any stress and anxiety you may feel when planning a trip and juggling the responsibilities of everyday life. Many people choose to book their own trips as a cost-cutting measure. What they don’t realize is that travel agents may be privy to special deals and perks they can pass on to customers. These agents also know the ins and outs of certain resorts and locales. Leaving the legwork in their accomplished hands means all you have to do is show up with your reservations instead of pouring over the minutiae of planning.
Consider an all-inclusive trip
All-inclusive resorts and cruise lines take the work out of having a good time. These types of vacations remove a lot of the problems associated with personal travel. Meals are provided, activities are coordinated, and you don’t have to carry extra cash, as most costs generally are covered.
Keep your itinerary flexible
Scheduling right down to the minute can remove the fun of the trip. Leave opportunities to just sit and enjoy your surroundings. Perhaps other members of the family or traveling party have their own ideas for entertainment. A rigid timeline can make the vacation seem more like a commitment rather than an opportunity to let loose and stop watching the clock.
Rent a car
Find out if a rental car can be included in the price of your vacation. Having a car at the ready means vacationers can come and go as they please without worrying about hailing taxis or waiting for public transportation. Rental cars also provide access to areas outside of resort confines. Research possible destinations in advance and map out where you want to go to remain safe and prepared.
Vacations don’t have to be taxing. Cut down on some of the stressful aspects of traveling by simplifying and delegating tasks.