The holidays can be stressful, and I’m not just talking about the crowded malls and tight finances. Every holiday dinner or party seems to reveal another minor disaster, and they can really take their toll! Some are just unavoidable, others are funny a few years later, but almost all can be avoided, or at least fixed a little on the spot. Here are 7 holiday disasters and how to prevent, prepare for, or repair them without losing your cool.
1. Not Enough Food
Photo Credit: KimFearheiley
So you’ve decided to host the holiday at your house, and a handful of friends and family RSVP. At the last minute, your step-brother shows up with his second wife and their six kids — now what? If it looks like there may not be enough food, don’t panic. You can always order pizza, or make something instant to fill the gap. Then, at the end of the night, as your step-brother is leaving, gently remind him to please RSVP next time.
2. Burnt Dinner
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The Christmas I was pregnant — hugely pregnant — with my youngest daughter, we hosted dinner and I burnt the ham. I stood there in the kitchen, staring into the oven, horrified, until my beloved Aunt Susie came into the kitchen, sliced off the burnt part, added a few pineapple slices, and served the ham. No-one had a clue I had “burnt” dinner, and all was well. If you truly do burn dinner, it’s okay, too. Again, order pizza or carry-out Chinese and insist, graciously, that someone else burn dinner next year.
3. Drunken Insult
Photo Credit: Anna Gay
According to recent research, in every family, there’s a brother, uncle, or father who drinks too much at dinner and manages to somehow alienate or insult someone. The best way to avoid this is to not serve alcohol… or to stop inviting mean-drunk Uncle Richard. If it’s too late, and the insult has already been made, hustle him into another room to avoid fisticuffs and proceed as though nothing happened, with a meaningful glance at the offended party that clearly says they’ll get the biggest slice of pumpkin pie for having to deal with that mess.
4. Stains and Spills
Photo Credit: Shaun Dyer Photographic Arts
At some point, someone is going to drip gravy on your antique cream lace tablecloth or spill their red wine on your shag carpet. If you’re expecting children at your holiday dinner, it’s best to keep the good linen put away, and it’s never a bad idea to Scotch-Guard your rugs and upholstery. If a spill does happen, be prepared with spray or foam stain remover and cloths to blot. Problem solved, if you’re prepared!
Photo Credit: Scousevet
If you’re traveling this holiday season, be prepared for long waits at the airport. In fact, be prepared to be there as early as possible, since most airlines still over-book on purpose, and bump the passengers who don’t show up until the last possible minute. If at all possible, leave a little wiggle room in your plans, so if you are bumped from a flight, you’ll have time to play with and your holiday plans won’t be ruined.
6. Holiday Photo Mess
Photo Credit: Jean Leclerc
Every year, you line your family up in matching sweaters in front of the tree for that all-important family photo. And every year, someone manages to screw up every single photo you take. Thank goodness most of us use digital cameras instead of film now, but it’s still frustrating. To combat this issue, patience is best. Take photos early in the day, before the kids get rumpled and before everyone gets tired and crabby. If you notice everyone’s fidgety or inclined to goof, take the photo later… and remember, there’s always PhotoShop.
7. Double Gifts
Photo Credit: Jean Leclerc
What if everyone gives little Lulu the same doll, book, or board game? If she’s just little, she’s likely to make a very loud comment about this, but if she’s older, she might understand the delicacy of the situation. This is why I always, ALWAYS include a gift receipt with every gift I give. Hopefully, your friends and family do the same, and if not, most shops allow returns without one, if the package isn’t opened.
Those are a handful of the disasters, minor and major, that can occur during the holidays, but now we all know how to handle them… or prevent them in the first place! Which of these disasters do you fear, and how will you avoid it? Or do you have a funny holiday disaster story to share? Please let me know!
Top Photo Credit: catklein