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Stress-Free Holiday Gatherings

Holidays are often the times when we finally make the time to get together with friends and family. Unfortunately, this is also one of the busiest times of the year. We are trying to make our house comfortable and festive, provide an abundance of food and drinks, and be great hosts to our guests. Sometimes, we might get stressed out about all these details that we forget the original purpose was to “just” get together with our family and friends.

I admit that I was one of those people that wanted everything to be absolutely perfect for my guests, and I drove myself and my spouse crazy trying to achieve this. (My daughter didn’t know of anything different.) Over the years, I have found some stress free alternatives to the traditional ways of having gatherings. Here are my suggestions:


This can be at your house or at a local coffee house! For the former, you are in the comfort of your own home where no travel is required, you don’t have to make fancy meal – just coffee and maybe snacks, and it is time bound. When inviting your guest, you can ask them over for 2-3 hours. This will be a nice little catch up time, and maybe a break in your usual schedule too.

If you chose to meet up at a coffee house, it is even more stress free. You just have to travel there. You know you will get some awesome coffee and snacks, you won’t have to worry about preparation or clean up, and they might even have some festive music playing the background!


An activity can be doing a batch meal prepping, cookie exchange, or volunteer activity. If you are stressed about the state of your house, you don’t have to worry. Some of these activities will make it look even worse, and you and your guest will be too busy to notice your surroundings. If you chose to gather over a volunteer activity, there can’t possibly be any stress when you are giving your time and energy for others! 


Personally, I think this is the easiest and fanciest way to gather with friends and family. You just have to find the date and time that works for everyone. (I know, this could be stressful but focus on the end result.) Find a family friendly restaurant that caters to many dietary restrictions, preferences, etc. and you are good to go. Just dress up (or not), go out to eat with friends and family, and enjoy the time together!

What do you think of these suggestions?

Did it give you some ideas on how to have gatherings without all the stress? I hope so! Remember, the holidays isn’t about the state of your home, cooking, or how great of a host you are. It is about being present with all the people that are important to you. (Took me a little while to realize this. Hopefully, I saved you some precious time!) Happy Holidays!

Monica Hui is a working mom in Calgary, Alberta, constantly looking for ways to do things faster and faster so that she can slow down to have pretend picnics with her daughter. Her website,, shares her own personal experiences, mom tips, and DIY projects in hopes of helping other moms create an easier, prettier, and efficient mom life. You can follow her on facebook or Instagram, @wishahmon.