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Planning a Holiday Party with MS

By Matt Cavallo

It’s the most wonderful, umm, I mean stressful, time of the year. Living with MS and making it through the long, cold winter can be a challenge in its own right. However, what happens if you decide to host a holiday party? Just thinking about it gets me a little anxious.

I was speaking to a friend the other day, and she said that she no longer throws parties because of the work and stress involved and how it makes her feel physically. I’m sure there are those of us reading that can totally relate. Life with MS can be very isolating. We tend to push people away because we might not be feeling well or able to participate in the activities that we once enjoyed. Isolation can lead to feelings of depression and loneliness which are all to common to people living with MS.

So, let’s throw a party! Let’s fight the tendency to shut down the outside world and invite them in for a holiday party. I know it can be stressful, but if you follow these tips, you can throw a stress-free holiday party that you and your guests will love.

Recruit help: Just because you’re the host, doesn’t mean you have to do everything alone. Ask for help from friends and relatives and assign specific tasks with deadlines to make things easier. And if a guest asks, “What can I bring?” Tell them. Wine, ice, a pie — whatever will make your life easier.

Keep it simple: The holidays can feel like a time of year that we need to go over the top but trying new recipes or overdecorating can backfire and cause unnecessary stress. A classic, simple menu will please every palate. The same rings true for drink and dessert options. Offer a few options for each. If a guest is overly picky, ask them to bring something. 

Plan ahead: Start planning at least a week in advance. That might seem like a lot of time but it will make things less stressful in the long run. Make sure to schedule in some time for relaxation too. Making a budget, creating a grocery list, planning out your menu and coming up with a timeline for party activities ahead of time will help you save time and frustration. 

Lower your expectations: So many things could go wrong when you are hosting a party but those things are mostly out of your control. To keep your cool, go into the day with low expectations and the realization that no party is ever perfect. As long as your guests everyone is warm, fed, and has the opportunity to socialize with one another, that is a success.

Get in a happy, festive mood: The morning of the party, focus on what makes you happy. Take some time for a walk, to relax or listen to your favorite holiday playlist. Do whatever will put you in a good mood. Your guests will notice how happy you are to see them when they arrive. 

Don’t be afraid to say “No”: Just because you are the host doesn’t mean that you need to honor every request or cater to your guests at all cost. There may be many instances while holiday hosting where you might feel put out or uncomfortable and you simply want to say no. No matter how disappointed your guests may be by not giving in to their request, you have the right as host to decline politely and not feel guilty about it.

Enjoy the event: Holiday hosting should be fun for the host, too. Make sure you mingle, sing, dance, play, or whatever brings you joy. Stay out of the kitchen as much as possible and focus on having fun. The more fun you have, the more fun your guests will end up having.