Holiday entertaining can be a lot less stressful, says etiquette expert
If you are able to relax then ultimately your guests can too
An author and etiquette expert says the stress that often accompanies holiday entertaining can be reduced or even avoided with the right state of mind.
Charles MacPherson, author of The Butler Speaks: A Return to Proper Etiquette, Stylish Entertaining, and the Art of Good Housekeeping, says the first thing you need to do is make a plan.
"I think as the host, if you are able to relax then ultimately your guests will feel that you are relaxed and they can also start to relax," MacPherson told Daybreak Alberta this week.
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"But if as a host, if you are stressed about getting ready for the event, and when the event is actually happening, then I don't believe your guests can actually start to relax."
Without planning, he says, stress can get the best of you.
"It can be really stressful because not only do we have our daily lives that we have to deal with, but now we have to deal with entertaining a bunch a people that are going to come over to our homes and they are expecting to be entertained."
In potluck parties or other events requiring guest involvement, MacPherson says be specific.
"You need to be specific about the ask," he explained.
"If you are thinking, 'I am going to do something and I am not understanding the ask,' then you are going to be disappointed and I am going to be frustrated."
Break it down, keep it simple
On the housekeeping front, MacPherson recommends getting a running start at it.
"It's about breaking it down and doing things simply. Keep things up to date so you don't have to do this big clean-up job three hours or the night before the guests come," he explains.
"It helps take that pressure off. It's about trying to take control from a housekeeping perspective to make sure that these tasks don't overwhelm you."
MacPherson says good table manners, including the ability to converse with others, has benefits beyond a Christmas party.
"We have busy lives, we are not spending the same amount of time that we used to together, particularly at the dinner table. We are not having those social skills and that is really hurting us," MacPherson said.
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"It is actually important to go back to that and we are trying to figure that out right now as a society and we are not really sure what that is. When you are going for that job interview, when they invite you out for lunch it is not because they are worried that you are hungry. They are trying to decide who to pick, and it may come down to how you conduct yourself at the table because they don't want to be embarrassed in front of a client."
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With files from Daybreak Alberta