We all have one in our lives. She might be your neighbor, your sister, your best friend, the mom in the carpool line or your colleague at work. She's the crafty one who spends hours making homemade chocolate bats for the kindergarten treat bags or the one who manages to find time (and has the talent) to craft handmade centerpieces. We admire her, as she pours us a cup of homemade cider made from the apple trees in her backyard, but we also feel guilty. The cupcakes we brought to the party? They're from the grocery store. The jack-o'-lantern on the porch? It came pre-painted. Before the guilt bubbles up, remember that the holidays aren't about the perfect cards or freshly baked treats. They are about having fun -- and not just for the guests. You need to have fun, too.
Sarah on "embracing imperfection":
I work full time and race around trying to get it all done, so when the holidays come, I feel overwhelmed by all of the things I should be doing. You know those movies where the kids are in the back asking: "Are we having fun yet?" That's me at the holidays. So, last year I made a decision to throw together an impromptu Halloween party. It was a potluck and all of the neighbors came. It was fantastic. Because it was last-minute, nobody expected anything over-the-top and everyone was happy to get together for an hour or so before the trick-or-treating. It was the first time I had a great time at my own party, and I learned that it's not about what you're serving or how you decorated, but who is there.
Alicia on "a guilt-free holiday":
I love Halloween. There are no turkeys to cook, no trees to trim and no expectations (other than a stomachache from all that candy). As someone who loves to entertain but hates to cook, Halloween is tailor-made for me. So I make it my holiday when I invite everyone over. Halloween is all about dessert, so it's a perfect way for me to entertain without feeling like I should have made the gravy, baked the bread or whipped the mashed potatoes.
Here are three low-cost and low-skill ways to throw a fun Halloween party:
1. Use the 80/20 Rule. We love this rule and use it often. If you're not familiar with it, it boils down to picking the most important things and forgetting the rest. Whether you apply it to decorations, treats or party favors, employ it when planning your party. What are the two or three things that you can do to make your Halloween gathering fun? Focus on those tasks.
2. Let Others Help. Never say "nothing" when somebody asks you what they can bring. Most people want to feel like they are contributing, so pick something ahead of time for each person to bring. Decide what you will make and then divvy up the rest among your guests. It's a fun way to get them involved and share recipes while also ensuring that you're not slaving in the kitchen the whole time.
3. The Bill Doesn't Have to Be the Scary Part. It's easy to run up a huge bill decorating the house or buying up every ingredient for 10 different side dishes -- don't. Plan -- and use what you already have. Make it more old-fashioned and opt for spooky instead of scary. Throw some spaghetti in a pot to look like worms or put grapes in a bowl to look like eyeballs. The kids will love it (and they won't be running away) and the adults will appreciate the old-time cheer.
The writers are co-founders of Buttoned Up, a company dedicated to helping stressed women get organized. Send ideas and questions to yourlife(at)getbuttonedup.com. For more columns, go to scrippsnews.com .
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