It’s sad how many people finish Christmas or New Year’s (or another major holiday, or a wedding, or a milestone birthday, or a family reunion) with a sigh of “Thank goodness that’s over!” Celebrations should leave an aftertaste of joy and positive energy, not exhaustion and wondering whether it was worth it.


If you’re the family planner, organizer, and cleaner-upper, you’re all too familiar with the dark side of celebrating. You go days without a chance to rest, and you resent that everyone else seems to be having all the fun at your expense. When a special occasion is in the works and the rest of your household is chattering about how much fun it’ll be, you’re already, with dread, counting the cost of your labor.

Before you let that attitude ruin one more celebration for you, rethink your approach to planning and management.

Ask for Help

Instead of complaining that no one ever lifts a finger to help you cook, decorate the house, or clear the table, consider whether they have any reason to suspect you’d like help. Could you be discouraging them from even offering, by:

Getting so absorbed in the work that you ignore everyone else, and making it obvious you don’t want others “in your way”?

Taking an “I can’t trust anyone else to do this right” attitude (spending more time giving instructions than it takes to actually do the job, “correcting” every misaligned dish in the dishwasher, actually refusing offers of help)?

Working with slumped shoulders and a fixed scowl?

Enjoy the Party Yourself

If you let others share the work, it’s only right you should be willing to share the fun. Sit down long enough to chat over dinner, instead of constantly scurrying to the kitchen. Once dinner is finished and basic table-clearing complete, join the main group and let the rest of the cleaning wait a while.

If you really feel there’s too much to keep up with and still enjoy the party, cut down on what you’re keeping up with. Get some food by carry-out. Reduce the decorations. Clean only the rooms that will be used for party purposes, and don’t worry if some dust remains: no one will notice which dust was already there and which was brought in by the crowd. Your guests would much rather have your personal attention than have bragging rights about a “perfect hostess” in the family.


Remember This Is About the People

And remember you are a “people” too. This isn’t a “best party ever” contest; people come to enjoy not just the occasion, but the company of those they love. 


If there’s one legitimate way to measure the success of a celebration, it’s the number of smiles the event (and the memory) evokes!