We spent much of last month sharing ways to make your holiday parties extra special. How to make your guests feel comfortable when they don't know each other and urging each of us to make room at the table for all sorts of people. But what about when all the guests are familiar? We're talking the same ol' crowd that it is every year -- you have history with these people (good and bad), and like it or not, you're family. A few ideas about welcoming those familiar faces and making them feel extra special :
1. Everyone loves a welcome sign. Enlist your kiddos and create a little banner or hand made card letting each guest know you've been anticipating their arrival. (Let's face it, no one can resist a smudged hand-print or backwards "R".) If you don't have kids take a little time to round up some old photos and make a funny IRL meme.
2. Traditioooon... TRADITION. (Seventh grade Fiddler On The Roof production, anyone?) Growing up we always played games until midnight on Christmas Eve when we would then open one present each before heading off to bed.
3. And then try something new! Pick up a new board game at the store, or maybe this is the year you start making tamales every Christmas!
4. Consider everyone's needs. Don't write things off as "just the way aunt Betty is..." maybe the smell of cinnamon really does set her off or your introverted cousin just needs a little break time. As the host, take each personality into consideration as you plan the day.
5. That said, you can't always please everyone. Don't sweat the small stuff and remember that everyone's happiness is not your responsibility. Be gracious but also realistic.
6. Name cards are often reserved for formal affairs but who doesn't love seeing their name written down? Take advantage of every opportunity to let your guests know that you're glad they came. Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling :
7. Ask questions. It can be easy to slip into the holiday routine of eat til you need to unbutton your pants and then turn on the t.v. and stop talking to one another. Don't be afraid to linger around the table a little longer. Find out what holidays were like when your grandmother was a kid. Does she remember a favorite gift? What is your sister's favorite Christmas memory? Go ahead, be the nostalgic one. These are going to be the conversations that everyone remembers and the reason they keep coming back. (Well, and because Mom makes them...)