Stressed Out About the Party You’re Throwing This Weekend? Read On.

From time to time, my blog receives queries from other writers and bloggers who’d like to guest post here. I’m open to this. (Just send me an email.) Most of the areas in which people are welcome to guest post include writing about literature or music or fashion or food, but now and then something else catches my eye that seems like it would be useful to post here. This is one of those posts.

Half of the people in my house are extreme extroverts and the other half, extreme introverts. This means, in a nutshell, entertaining at home is necessary but emotionally slightly horrifying. We’ve had to come up with coping mechanisms and compromises that allow everyone to get what they need without ruining anyone’s day or night. (Like with most things in life, it’s a work in progress.) Some things we have started doing is limiting the guest list (sometimes by more than 50%) and allowing the introverts to leave the party in the middle for a recharge break. Both of these help. We also have fewer occasions when we entertain now, though New Year’s Eve is still — most years — one of those times.

Aimee Lyons, who blogs at DIY Darlin, wants to offer us all some good advice for how to host a party without taking the fun out of it for yourself.




How To Keep Holiday Entertaining Fun And Leave Out The Stress
by Aimee Lyons


happy-new-year-622149_1280Photo via Pixabay by PixArc


Entertaining during the holidays can be one of the most stressful endeavors you can undertake, but it doesn’t have to be. Many of us feel the pressure to throw a perfect party or to make our homes look like a magazine cover, but the truth is, your guests probably won’t remember that you had 10,000 string lights but only half of them twinkled.

Getting caught up in the small things will definitely make you anxious, so it’s important to learn how to prevent those feelings of anxiety and stress and cope with the matter at hand: making a fun, memorable party.

One of the keys to doing that is to plan as much as possible. If you feel prepared for any contingency, you’ll have the confidence to throw a bash that no one will forget for years to come. Here are the best tips for having fun and leaving the stress at the door.

Plan your menu

Don’t be seduced by that beautiful spread in the Pinterest photo. Choose foods that are deceptively easy to make but look like a million bucks, such as dips and finger foods. Having a variety of small items rather than a full-on ham dinner will leave you with more time to mingle with your guests and will keep it casual, plus you won’t have to worry about having nothing for the vegetarians or those with food allergies.

Set the mood

You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to make your home look beautiful for guests. Music and lighting can go a long way, so decorate with metallic items and light candles (which can be put up and out of the way for safety’s sake), which will give your home a warm, twinkling glow. Make a playlist everyone will love by mixing classic holiday songs with contemporary music.

Get comfy

A lot of people in one house — especially after a day of cooking — can mean warm temps, so crack a few windows to ensure no one overheats. In the kitchen, turn on a fan away from the food, especially if you have to leave the oven on to keep things warm.

Don’t be afraid to enlist some help

There will come a point in your party planning when you’ll convince yourself that you can only achieve “perfect party” status if you do everything yourself. But the reality is the more you can delegate the better you’ll feel and chances are the better your party atmosphere will be.

So, what are some great tasks to delegate? For one, having a pet constantly underfoot while planning and decorating can be a pain. So, you might consider hiring a dog walker or pet sitter to keep them company while you prep. And there may be small party tasks you can hand over to your kids. They’ll enjoy being asked to help, and placecards written in their cute kid script, for example, will add even more charm and warmth to your party’s vibe.

Think ahead

The after-party mess is always a buzzkill, so keep a sink full of hot, soapy water to throw in used dishes as they get left behind. Better yet, use disposable plates, cups, and cutlery to cut down on the work. Ask a friend to help you keep an eye on the trash so it doesn’t get overfilled.

Don’t go overboard

It’s fine to plan a few games or gift-exchanges, but don’t plan for every single minute of the party. Let your guests mingle, talk, and have fun at a relaxed pace so you can do the same.

There’s no reason you shouldn’t be able to enjoy your own party. The trick is finding ways to enjoy the planning process. When you enjoy the build up to your party, you’ll be more relaxed and less stressed for the big event, and your calm demeanor will help you and your guests enjoy the evening.


Aimee Lyons  fancies herself a DIY goddess. She loves crafting, refurbishing furniture, remodeling rooms, and landscaping. She runs, which provides DIY project resources and tutorials.



12 Days of Christmas Music to Improve Your Playlist (Day 12)

Some of you may know I have a spider thing.

I’m a recovering arachnophobe — and I mean, seriously arachnophobic — and the fact that I’ve moved past this is one of the triumphs of my adult life. Perhaps I’ll post here some of my writing on this subject some time. But not today.

I have decided to eschew the song I had originally planned for today and save it for next year. In the past 36 hours, so many people have tagged me in this video on Facebook that I’ve decided to make it today’s post instead. We wish you a Merry Christmas.

Also, fair warning: spiders. (But really, really cute ones.)


12 Days of Christmas Music to Improve Your Playlist (Day 11)

I confess that chief among the Christmas songs I cannot stand is “Little Drummer Boy.”

It would be easy to blame this on the fact that I had to sing it for my grade school’s Christmas program in sixth grade, but that’s probably not it. I think it’s more that nearly every single version of this song I’ve ever heard — and dear gods, there are many — is so unutterably dispiriting. How many different ways can you make a song sound like it’s marching dejectedly into a coma?

Lots, apparently.

And yet…

You know, if you’ve seen my Christmas music posts the last couple of years, that one of my favorite holiday albums is the one by Bad Religion. Their version of “Little Drummer Boy” actually does not suck. Sure, it’s a little martial, but it has energy and verve and sounds like that little drummer boy is playing his effing heart for the Baby Jesus. Way to go.


12 Days of Christmas Music to Improve Your Playlist (Day 10)

I know that some of my readers are not excited about pop songs. That’s okay. I kind of like them, sometimes. Houston’s Christmas Music Station plays them quite a bit all year, including during their Christmas Music Season, and this year they started playing a new one that is either incredibly catchy enough for me to like it, or is just such a relief from the crap they mostly play that by comparison I thought the first time I heard it that it was great. Either way, I’m sharing it with you. This is Colbie Caillat’s “Christmas in the Sand.” The video is only a little questionable. Feel free to ignore its kitschiness if you choose. I’ll post something really different tomorrow.


12 Days of Christmas Music to Improve Your Playlist (Day 9)

Today is the day for requests. (Okay, actually, there are several requests of this series each year, which I kinda like, but today I’m indulging two of them.)

Day 9 features a fantastic song that has been suggested to me many times by multiple people, and this year it made the primary list. It’s “Fairytale of New York” by The Pogues, featuring Kirsty MacColl.

Please also click here to see a bonus song suggested by Marie Marshall, who mentioned it in the comments to an earlier day’s post. It’s a marvelous jazz rendition of “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” that reminds me of the old Pink Panther cartoons in the best way, although that doesn’t really describe it well enough. Just give it a listen; it’s fun.


12 Days of Christmas Music to Improve Your Playlist (Day 8)

I didn’t post yesterday because I was on a day trip. My daughter and I went to the hill country to visit some friends, and we listened to a lot of Christmas music in the car. This is one I’ve posted before, but it’s a good one and one of her favorites, so please to enjoy it again. This video is of the live version, which is great, although it’s missing Michael Bublé, who does sing on the album track. (Might be Bublé’s best work.)


12 Days of Christmas Music to Improve Your Playlist (Day 7)

Okay, technically, tonight’s offering isn’t a Christmas song, per se. It’s a different song, done by Christmas Dubstep House — which is a house in San Antonio, Texas, whose owners sync up their holiday lights to a holiday soundtrack every year, or at least I think that’s the story. Something like that. You can investigate if you’re interested. (Clearly, I’m not, much.)

Anyway, they did their lights this time to something else which I find highly entertaining. (For the record, my kids love this song, too. It sends them into apoplectic fits of laughter.)

Let’s just call this a palette cleanser. Enjoy.


12 Days of Christmas Music to Improve Your Playlist (Day 6)

Here’s another Midnight Syndicate track for you today, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.” It’s a song I’ve always kind of enjoyed, and I really like what they’ve done with it. MS makes excellent background music, I think — though it’s also fun to focus on it while you’re listening — and this morning I’m back at work on my novel edits now that my semester is over. (And there was much rejoicing!)


12 Days of Christmas Music to Improve Your Playlist (Day 5)

School let out for the holidays today, and all afternoon it was like the entire city was out traveling the same four streets I needed. It took twice as long to get anywhere. Good thing I had my iPod in the car with me.

In honor of everyone and their dog headed out to visit people for the holidays, I’ll leave you this nice little U2 video to enjoy.


12 Days of Christmas Music to Improve Your Playlist (Day 4)

Remember the band R.E.M.? Remember how fantastic they were? Their music was a huge part of my high school and college experiences, yet I had no idea they’d recorded any Christmas music until about a year ago. Go fig.

I like this track. It’s a lovely rendition of a song that I have a complicated relationship with. It always makes me feel melancholy but a little bit comforted at the same time; it has since I was a child. I’ll just post it here for you to enjoy while I go bake cookies for my kids’ teachers and grade finals.