#4 - How (& why) to ask for help with hosting Christmas

Dec 15, 2021

 I really enjoy hosting gatherings. I especially enjoy Christmas parties or dinners/drinks,  they remind me of drinks events my parents used to hold for all the neighbours when I was young.

And I love making Christmas Day lunch for family.  It fulfils my personal desire to please, look after, feed, and entertain everyone.

I'm also one of those people that likes to control the process, do it all myself, and as a result probably spends most of my time in the kitchen rather than actually connecting.

But asking for, and accepting, help can feel really hard, especially when we are already in the thick of it and feeling stressed or under pressure to get everything done.

Controlling the process may seem like the easiest way to ensure things go smoothly, but in reality it's not the most stress or brain friendly approach.

Firstly, holing myself away in the preparation means the "perfect" output  - food, decoration, wine/drinks, are they having enough fun? - tends to become the dominant thought & focus, rather than actually being present, noticing what is going well and taking part. 

Secondly, I realised that this stresses some people out because it goes against the principles of tribe... they aren't given space to do anything, have a role,...

Thirdly, it really can be a lot of work, especially when some of these things just aren't my forte, but I feel I need to do them anyway.

Lastly, having people in the kitchen "buzzing around", at a loose end, getting in the way really irritates me as much as having someone install themselves in the corner chair for the day.


What am I missing by trying to do it all myself?

  • Generally speaking people like to feel that they contribute to the tribe rather than being a burden on it ... nothing like feeling at risk of being too much trouble to put the brain on high alert.

  • Feeling totally responsible for the success of the day (and the complete happiness of the tribe) will likely trigger an equally high state of awareness.

  • Completing even small tasks or group efforts will trigger their reward system and bring greater feelings of togetherness (watching people help releases oxytocin... watching people act as unpaid slave does not, and nor does feeling like one!)

  • One persons vision or priorities for a "good" Christmas might not be the same as everyone else's. Any frustration they feel at not being considered comes from a place of stress, of not feeling important, but can seem ungrateful... and it spirals from there. 

What can you let the tribe to handle? How can you help them help themselves?


8 Tips When Enlisting Help 

There are various ways of asking for help or accepting help when it is offered without loosing control

  1. Before you ask for help, identify what you really need. Knowing this can determine who you ask and what you need them to do. It also helps you make the request clear. What do you find most stressful or annoying or unnecessary?  What outcome or end result should the help bring (be clear on the outcome not how to do it unless they ask!)
  2. Ask (or practice asking) in advance. If you aren't used to asking or you dont think they help enough, plan what you are going to say rather than dreading it.  You can get the wording right so it doesn't sound like an instruction or demand, is clear why you value their help...
  3. ...and if you know what you would like them to do, tell them in advance so they can plan or bring what they need to do it their way.
  4. If someone offers to contribute, unless there is something specific you want, ask what they would like to bring (it might be something that they particularly associate with Christmas)
  5. What are you fairly agnostic about? Is there a job someone else really enjoys? Canapes are too much hassle for my liking... my brother loves them .. over to you bro! I dont really care about table decorations but someone else is really good at them. 
  6. Once you have asked for help let them be responsible for it ... no micro-managing or interfering unless there is a question or disaster! If you make someone responsible for drinks, dont start filling glasses or making tea ... they might assume you dont trust them or that you are happy to keep doing it!
  7. If you want people to help themselves to basics - coffee, water, games,... - spell it out by showing them where the stuff is when they arrive (a friend moves it all for the day to one spot so there isn't the frantic cupboard opening!)
  8. Don't forget to thank people for their help.  You may still be going the bulk of the work, but gratitude, generosity, and acknowledgement are part of the process in both directions.


This may seem like a very specific situation - help with Christmas entertaining - but the fundamental ideas and the structure for enlisting help apply well beyond this into day-2-day home life, and work. 

It also shows how the key pillars from The Stress Reset - RECOGNISE, RESTORE, REFRAME, REALIGN, RELATE, RENEW, REFRESH AND RESET are applied in really practical ways to real life situations.


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