I didn’t grow up in a Christian tradition that observed Lent. It wasn’t until my late twenties, when I was going through a terrible time in my life, that I began to observe it. It was one of those seasons where I was stuck. Stuck in my sin. Tangled in...
HOLIDAY HOSTING HACKS THAT FREE YOU TO SERVE
Entertaining during Thanksgiving and Christmas can be stressful but a lot of pressure can be eliminated with a little planning and by keeping our daily focus on Jesus’ command to love God and love others (Matthew 22:37-39). Here are a few tips to get organized and prepared so we’ll have room to do what Jesus calls us to do.
After your guest list has been decided, settle on your menu. Once your menu is set, make a list of all the ingredients you need at the grocery store or farmer’s market, as well as which stores you’ll need to visit. Pro tip: the holidays are not the time to try out a new grocery store. Stick to what you know or you’ll be wandering the aisles frustrated that you can’t find the vanilla extract or chopped pecans. This will put you in a very bad mood, and you can’t be in a bad mood when you’re about to possibly encounter sometimes-challenging relatives you haven’t seen in a year (we’ll get to relatives in a moment). While you’re shopping, cooking, and cleaning, pray as you go. Thanking the Lord for His many blessings and praying specifically for those you’ll be encountering is a great way to prepare your heart.
Do As Much As You Can Ahead Of Time
After you’ve bought your ingredients, whatever you can make ahead of time, make it. If you’re serving a salad, have your vegetables chopped, nuts toasted, dressing made and stored appropriately. If you have casseroles that can be chilled in the fridge, make them a day or two before. Appetizers like a charcuterie board can be put together ahead of time as well. Have your bread sliced, asparagus trimmed, lemons squeezed beforehand—you get the idea. Also, clean as you go. There’s nothing like waking up to a spotless kitchen on the day you’re hosting a large meal or party. Instead of running from room to room with your hair on fire, you’ll be able to enjoy your guests. You’ll have the capacity to ask good questions, listen, and watch for opportunities the Holy Spirit gives you to encourage or pray for someone who needs it.
Every year I have this ideal that I want my guests to be able to simply show up and not have to do a thing. But the older I get and the more people I host, the more unrealistic this becomes. Friends and relatives really are happy to bring their specialty dessert, or pick up that artisan loaf of bread, or come with an overflowing bowl of salad. I find that for every dish or drink that someone else handles, a surprising amount of pressure is taken off on the big day. When others pitch in not only are you, as the host, more at ease but also more people get to share in having a part in the celebration.
It’s Not Your Responsibility To Fix Your Relatives
If your guest list happens to include difficult or awkward relatives, it’s freeing to remember that it’s not your responsibility to fix them. I know what you’re thinking… but I know exactly what’s wrong with them and have so many good ideas! Let Jesus decide what He wants to do with those great ideas and then ask Him to help you walk out the gifts of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness… (Galatians 5:22-23). Think of how less stressed you’ll be if you don’t task yourself with having to change all your loved ones over Christmas. This is very freeing news. The day may come when you have to gently confront a loved one, or deal with a perpetually difficult problem. But the holiday season typically isn’t the time to try to solve decades-old issues. Throw off the responsibility of having to fix everyone, pray, and pick up a piece of pumpkin pie. You’ll thank me for this one.
Focus on What’s Right This Year
Every holiday season has a cultural ideal that none of our holiday experiences can live up to. Our Thanksgivings and Christmases will never totally measure up to the standard we read about in books or see in the movies. Someone or something will always be missing. Disappointments will happen. But make a decision to focus on what is right this year. Be intentional to thank God for who is present with you, for who He is, and for all the blessings He’s given you. A thankful heart will be a salve for whatever disappointments linger. With a little planning ahead, a few people to help, some delicious recipes, your loved ones around you, and most importantly, the presence of Christ Himself, this holiday season is sure to be the most wonderful time of the year.
Check out Kelly’s New Cookbook, A Place at the Table.
The post Holiday Hosting Hacks That Free You to Serve appeared first on LifeWay Voices.
The Hope of Lent
What It Means To Be Blessed
This is Day 5 from Kelly's 90-day devotional book, The Blessed Life. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:3 Sometimes when I’m really out of sorts my friends will remind me of how truly blessed I am, how much I have to be...
What Will You Receive This Year?
Happy New Year, friends. If you’re anything like me, every last Christmas tree needle has been swept from the house, the gnarls of Christmas lights are tucked away in boxes, and you just found a stray ornament, one that will possibly sit on your dresser until next...
Savior and Friend
The Christmas season is fully upon us. I have no idea how this happened, since it feels like only a few days ago I had 31 people at my house for Thanksgiving. I love hosting, but this was the longest day of my life. I am not at all opposed to going back to my growing...
Seeing God in Every Season
It’s November, one of my favorite months of the year. I don’t know if you love all-things homelike I do, but I have my autumn décor and colors out, and I’m about to slash open somepumpkins for pumpkin pie. The leaves have mostly fallen, and with the crunch of them...