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'Over the river and through the woods, to Grandmother's house we go'

Fri, Nov 18th 2016 08:15 pm

How to balance the holidays

By Michelle Blackley Glynn

Whether your best accessory this holiday season is a new significant other at your holiday get-togethers, or it's another year with your spouse trying to fulfill multiple obligations, navigating the holiday party schedule can be stressful.

For those who are going house-to-house, starting with Thanksgiving, a common concern is how much food can one consume?

The modern American family, complete with members living miles apart, could be enjoying more turkey than ever this year. According to a Nielsen survey of about 2,000 adults conducted this month, people ages 18 to 34 said they eat more than four Thanksgiving meals on average.

Locally, the average Western New Yorker will eat two meals on Thanksgiving Day, according to a poll taken on Facebook.

Jamie O'Donnell, founder of Jamie O' + Co, is an award-winning event planner and on-air lifestyle and entertaining expert whose events and advice have been featured nationally. She offered a few tips and tricks everyone can apply to the holiday schedule this year.

Planning the Family Party

Sometimes it starts with the host, O'Donnell said. Recognize everyone has multiple obligations with different sides of the family, and the holidays can often make one feel exhausted running from one location to the other. Instead, try to think about what would make it easier for your guests when planning the date and time.

"Take into account rush hour and where they may be coming from, and try to plan something that is easy for everyone," O'Donnell said. "It will help alleviate stress and make for a better and more relaxed party. If your family and your in-laws get along, think about planning one big holiday get-together with both sides, so you don't have to plan two dates and two parties."

Travel Tips

For out-of-towners who come together during the holidays, travel can definitely cause some tension and frustration. O'Donnell recommended a family discussion in knowing what to expect, and settling expectation for the trips to help alleviate some stress.

What are your expectations of this trip? Fun and leisurely, or will it be family time and parties the whole trip? Have a family discussion about what would make each member happy on the trip, and try to strike a balance by incorporating at least one thing from each member. 

Make sure to load electronic devices with movies or TV shows that you or the kids haven't seen yet. If there are inevitable travel delays, you can keep calm and have something to watch.

Pack snacks for the trip to ward off the hunger meltdowns - and it's always good to have snacks for late-night hunger if you are staying in a hotel. 

If you need some alone time away from large family activities, tell family before you come that you will be spending certain days and times with them, but you also have plans to spend some quiet time or tourist time with your family foursome. This way, no one's feelings get hurt and there is a plan in advance. 

"I think these basic questions and preparation help set the expectations for the trip, as well as allow you the room to set boundaries of what will make you most comfortable and happy while traveling," O'Donnell said. "It allows the opportunity for a bit of a give and a take in advance versus the frustration that can arise while traveling. The last thing you need as a traveler is to be frustrated with each other while already facing typical stressful or frustrating travel situations that just come along with the holidays.

"It's important to be on the same team when traveling!" 

Award-winning Michelle Blackley Glynn is the owner/chief creative officer at Full Plate Publicity and adjunct instructor at Niagara University and Buffalo State College. She is also the host of "Pearls, Plates & Planes" on LCTV, and can be found on Twitter @shellblackley.

For more event and lifestyle tips, visit www.jamieo.co.

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