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Gemma Bray remembers the first time she hosted Christmas. “I went way over the top and made far too much food and spent far too much money,” says Bray. “From then on I have always made sure to keep things in check.” Now, the creator of the lifestyle blog The Organised Mum has a few words of advice for those planning to host the holiday for the first time: Keep things simple.

Becky O’Haire, founder of the lifestyle blog Cuddle Fairy, agrees that simplicity is key. So if it’s your turn to host Christmas this year, and if—like many—you’ve spent too much time Christmas gift shopping and decorating the tree to actually plan out your hosting duties, here are some last minute tips to make it through the day without becoming one of the 45 percent of Americans who’d like to skip Christmas altogether.  

Make a list, check it twice:

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Prep as much in advance as you can—that way you don’t have to spend all your time in the kitchen,” says Bray. “Make sure you write down when everything needs to start cooking and that way it will all be ready at the right time.”

Having the correct tools will help you with the prep work. We like this mandoline slicer.

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O’Haire’s on the same page: “I peel the vegetables and make desserts and anything that can be made the day ahead on Christmas Eve,” says O’Haire. “Then on Christmas day it’s just turning pots on. It’s much easier that way because it’s easy to underestimate how long it takes to prep.”

It’s safe to say our brains love lists—we thrive off of grocery lists, errand to-do lists, and of course the beloved gift wish list, so why not do the same for Christmas dinner? Lists are just easier to digest, unlike that delicious Christmas dinner.

Minimize the chores:

“Use disposable baking trays,” says Bray. “Nobody wants to be scrubbing dirty pots and pans on Christmas Day. Buy a couple of disposable baking trays that you can throw in the bin.”

If you’re willing to sacrifice a little bit of formality, also consider purchasing plates, bowls and cutlery that look like China sets, but are actually disposable plastic.

Accept the help:

“It’s your Christmas, too, so be sure to accept help,” says O’Haire.

There’s nothing wrong with letting family and friends help out on the day—a potluck is a good way to ensure there’s enough food and variety and is a fun way to get everyone involved and excited. If you’re set on doing all the cooking yourself, have guests bring games, movies, or music instead. And if you don’t want those leftovers for days, tell them to bring their own Tupperware, too!

Spread the cheer and don’t forget to enjoy yourself:

Energy is just as important as your food and decor—and it’s what people will arguably remember most about the occasion. If you’re appearing to have a good time, so will your guests and as Bray puts it, “Your guests are there to not only have fun but to see you too.”

“Don’t feel like because you are hosting that you can’t enjoy your day too,” adds O’Haire.

Lastly, try not to compare yourself to other people or put too much focus on preconceived notions of Christmas dinner: “When people put pressure on themselves to ‘have fun’ it very often works the other way and the expectations of the day don’t match up to the romantic ideal that they had in mind,” says Bray. “Far better to relax and do things your way. You will have a much better time this way!”

Related video: How to Open a Champagne Bottle

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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