Stop & Breathe — How I Overcame this Year’s Holiday Entertaining Anxiety

Was the big holiday dinner at your house?  Maybe it was New Year’s Eve, or perhaps a milestone birthday?

There are those of us who host the holiday festivities and find more anxiety in this task than joy.  My word! There are gifts to buy, presents to wrap, food to prepare just to name a few of the things needing attention.  All kinds of personalities who don’t EVER spend time with one another are coming together and looking to YOU to make their holiday special. There is so much going on, it can make you want to head to an island and come back when it’s over.  (In case you are interested, the below is a photo I took in St. Kitts if you really do want to head to an island for Christmas 2017. This one is darling.)


Last week I hosted Christmas at my house.  It started out the same as it does every year, with me getting tired just thinking about the day ahead.  The day hadn’t started and I was feeling anxious already.  The biggest hurdle with hosting parties for me is the feeling of being completely overwhelmed.  Everything has to be perfect, after all, my guest’s holiday experience is a direct reflection on me, right?

This  Christmas day started out as it always had and was on track to turn out  with me stressed, exhausted and anxious by the end of it all.

However, by the time the first guest arrived, I was feeling awesome and ready to take on the day ahead.  It turned out to be the best Christmas day that’d I’d had in many years.

Would you like to know how?

I stopped to breathe. By stopping to find a quiet place to think, I was able to ask myself a few really good questions.

  • What is triggering this anxiety? My anxiety was getting triggered by the ghosts of Christmas past.  Does anyone else have well-meaning critical family?  My angst was caused by a couple of experiences from past holidays usually related to the timing of the food.  If you are not a cook as I am not, this can be an area of high stress.
  • What will happen to me if everything isn’t perfect? Nothing! Friends and family will still love me if I overcook the tenderloin or if we eat 30 minutes later than normal.
  • What will happen to our guests if everything isn’t perfect? Nothing! Guess what, no matter how perfect you may think you have made everything you have no control over what others think.  It doesn’t do any good to worry about it.  Just do your best.
  • How can I reassure myself that what must get done, will get done? Treat it like the project that  it is, and create a project plan!


  • This year I grabbed a notebook, and wrote down every task that I could think of that needed doing and delegated. To start, I’d imagined what the day ahead would look like if everything went off without a hitch.  Steven Covey calls this “begin with the end in mind.”  Through visualizing what the day could look like I was able to quickly break out all of the tasks that needed doing.   Any task I knew only I could do were done by me.  If the task could be accomplished by someone else I put someone else’s name on it (ie. my husband).  After the list was created I asked my husband to review it.


  • We knew what needed to be done, by whom and by when. Delegation is a wonderful thing when you are entertaining! What a great stress reliever.  A big shout-out to my husband this year who took charge of the beef tenderloin.

I have emerged from this holiday season happier and better than ever.  The day was far from perfect, and perhaps I was just a bit too at-ease this year.  However, I have evaluated what went well, and what could have gone better.   Next year’s celebration will be even more successful.

Have a healthy and happy 2017!


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael Osgood says:

    That was a good article.

    Maybe add topic for the other 85%
    – those with anxiety who are visiting in laws 😎
    Sent from my iPhone

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Catherine says:

    Yes to anxiety of hosting! Xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kimberly O. says:

      Thanks for the response Catherine! Your party was fantastic, so glad you had it this year. You looked cool as a cucumber.


  3. Kimberly O. says:

    Michael, Great idea. I’ll add it to my list! Perhaps you’ll see it soon.


  4. Terri says:

    Great article – I loved your insight. Delegation is key and, you’re right, trying to create the perfect holiday is exhausting. After all, no one is perfect – Perfection Itself is Imperfection and unachievable. Kudos to you for having a happy holiday and sharing your pointers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent idea making a list. Wish I’d done that myself.


  6. K says:

    What a great idea!


  7. Kathy C says:

    What a great idea!


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