I know it sounds cliche, but it’s like someone pressed FF on the remote and the holidays are here again! Before you get lost in the overwhelm, keep reading because this season is a fabulous opportunity to work a priceless principle into your brood, while at the same time, lightening your load.
If you’re like me, there’s always a checklist or 22 on your iPhone or notepad. (Paper is risky. Lose my list and lose my mind. Right?)
Holidays create more lists within lists…food, decor, gifts, cards, cash, concerts, cleaning, invites, wrapping, houseguests, charities…
But everything truly is figure-outable and if you’ve got kids around your feet, don’t look over their heads and do it all yourself.
Gather those elves and build your power team!
I’ve always included our kids when I entertained; often this has included hosting overnight guests – dear lawwwd we almost ran a constant B and B everywhere we lived.
This has built such active compassion in them; it’s their default now as they are the most hospitable, helpful, capable, servant-hearted men and fathers as adults.
How can your children change the game for you, while you build priceless character traits into them?
Here’s a page from my playbook.
- My children participated at every level when we hosted. Don’t underestimate their capability or their enthusiasm to be in the game. (And don’t discount the boys – they can crush it without drama!)
- Welcome cards. Markers, crayons, stickers, paper…and HEART! Which adult (except for Uncle Scrooge) wouldn’t melt to see a perfectly, imperfect handmade ‘welcome’ at their plate or next to the bed in their guest room??
- House cleaning from toilets to vacuuming, changing sheets and mopping floors – anything needing done. Mom, Dad, you’ve got a labor force around you if you patiently train and confidently delegate.
- Food Prep with clean hands and hair nets LOL truth – one of our sons always made the homemade caesar dressing (I’m married to an Italian so it’s usually an Italian Christmas 🙂 and here we are decades later, and he’s still the man for the job.
- Greeting warmly. Remember, we aren’t ‘entertaining’ but we’re opening our homes and hearts to others in the spirit of Christ’s extravagant love, humbly offering our best to others. Who better to express this than our sweet spirited children? No one gets to be shy – it’s time to teach your bunch confidence, eye contact, “yes, sirs,” and handshakes!
- Teach your team the power of serving others first. Buffet style? Then guests go first, from main dish to desserts. And kids don’t touch, cough on and grub what they don’t take. That’s gross. Be tough on this one.
- Decorations – unless you insist on a Martha Stewart standard, kids can create home made decor like placemats, name cards, centerpieces; they can trim the tree, set out the stuff from the attic where they like it and arrange the Nativity set. (our Nativity set always had G.I. Joes hanging from the rafters 🙂
- We Included our kids at the adult table – I tried never to relegate them to ‘kids should be seen and not heard.’ They were seated with the adults when there was room, sharing respectfully in the conversation and experiencing the wisdom and input of seasoned men and women. Of course this can be risky. Children aren’t adults and you may, on occasion, be embarrassed by their unexpected antics; but if we demand perfect and sterile conditions, we will never create an atmosphere in which to raise mature men and women.
- Our boys helped care for the youngsters who were our guests, entertaining toddlers, pacifying babies, sharing their toys, etc.
- Clean up. Clearing plates, scrubbing pots, sweeping, taking out the trash, folding chairs and tables wiped and stashed, ad infinitum.
If you can forget about perfect, overlook faux pauxs in conversations, spills and breaks when they occur – and they will – and simply delight in your child’s perfectly imperfect assistance, this practice is a major win for everyone.