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Host Family During the Holidays

Some of the biggest laughs on Roseanne came when their in-laws came to town. But for many of us, spending the holidays with family is no laughing matter. From sharing a bathroom with your sisters again to your mother-in-law taking over your kitchen, hosting family during the holiday season can drive even the sanest person crazy. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

“Sharing your home can be an awesome experience, even for folks who prefer themselves to non-resident relatives,” says Ashley Grimaldo, a blogger who writes money-saving tips for frugal-minded parents. “But it just wouldn’t be the holidays without stuffed turkeys or stuffed houses.”

Here are some tips to help you get through the holidays.

Make a meal-sharing spreadsheet.
Too often, the hosts think they have to do all the work. After all, these people are guests in your house. “After a decade of gathering for Thanksgiving with my mother’s extended relatives, we finally wised up and started assigning cooking and cleaning to each family,” says Grimaldo. “We made sure each group knew what they were responsible for. You can use email or Facebook to send out messages.”

Create the right space.
Get everything you need for your guests in order well before they arrive. Extra towels, toiletries, blankets, etc. And if you’re short on anything, don’t spend extra money on it—just ask guests to bring their own. “If your overnight guest list is really long, suggest bringing towels and sheets, as well as pillows and blankets,” says Grimaldo. “Put a hamper in a central location near the bedroom so guests who strip the sheets don’t have to wonder where to put them.”

Ask about allergies.
“It seems most of the world is now deathly allergic to at least one food (or food group), but as the host, you have the responsibility of accommodating for preference and allergy,” says Grimaldo. Ask guests for a list of any food allergies ahead of time so you can plan the menu accordingly.

Make a decision about pets.
Is your sister’s dog invited to the festivities? If not, you need to let her know ASAP. For many people, pets are like family, so they assume they’re invited along. But it’s your home, and if you don’t feel comfortable (or another guest is allergic) you need to let the pet owner know well in advance so they can make other arrangements.

Take a timeout.
No one wants to be cooped up in the house all weekend, so be sure to get out for some fresh air every now and then, even if it’s cold outside. A nice, brisk walk can help clear your head—and a little exercise will help ward off those extra holiday pounds!

Make a list of things to do.
Do some research ahead of time and make a list of fun activities to suggest for weekend guests, says Grimaldo. Think movies, bowling, Black Friday shopping. Anything free is good—as long as it’s done away from the house! (Click here for a list of family fun apps!)