A fire extinguisher wrapped in garland and holiday decorations is in front of an ugly holiday sweater pattern.

How I Host the Holidays Without Flaring

It's that time of year again: stockings hung over a crackling fireplace, mistletoe decorating the doorways, and carols sounding over the loudspeakers in every store. But the winter holidays are much more than tree ornaments and twinkling lights. The holidays are a time to reconnect with friends and family and celebrate your time together. However, hosting out-of-town guests or even just Thanksgiving dinner isn't as easy as the Hallmark channel makes it look. As a lupus patient, I have to be extra careful not to let the extra work of the holiday season cause a lupus flare. Here are some tips I use to keep the holidays as stress-free and flare-free as possible:

I clean my house in advance of the holidays

I hosted a Halloween party for my friends recently. Instead of wearing myself out by cleaning my house a few days before, I spread my cleaning over a few weeks. I dusted 3 weeks before the party. I cleaned the bathrooms the week before. I vacuumed and mopped the week of the party, then cleaned the kitchen the day before. When cleaning, I always clean in the reverse order of what tends to get dirty first so that the house stays clean for the longest possible time.

I hire a housekeeper or ask for help

If I'm not feeling up to cleaning, I'll try to set some money aside to hire a 1-time housekeeper. If not, I ask an understanding friend or family member to help, then buy them dinner to thank them after.

I buy presents throughout the year

I don't rush out to buy presents in the weeks after Thanksgiving. By then, I've usually bought most of the presents I plan on giving. Throughout the year, I buy gifts for friends and family spontaneously rather than making a list and buying them all at once. If I'm out shopping and see a scarf that my mother might like or a bottle of my friend's favorite perfume, I buy it then. I keep gifts I buy in a box on a shelf in my closet. A week or 2 before Christmas, I take the gifts out of the box, then wrap and label them.

I don't decorate all at once

In the same way that I don't clean all at once, I also don't decorate all at once. I usually put up my tree first. Then over the next week, I add the other decorations. I don't want to be too exhausted from decorating to actually enjoy the decor.

I bake and freeze my cookies

In the month before a dinner I'm hosting or contributing to, I'll find a day when I'm not too tired and do my baking then. Sugar cookies freeze well and taste just as good as if they were fresh when they're thawed. I've also made pie crusts in advance, then taken them out of the freezer the day before I add the filling and bake the pie.

I use a slow cooker and cook breakfast in advance

Out-of-town guests that stay with me know that I have lupus and that my fatigue is at its worst in the morning. Because of this, my houseguests always wake up a few hours before I do. However, I can still treat them to a home-cooked breakfast by putting ingredients in my slow cooker and cooking them overnight. The last time I had houseguests, I baked a quiche the day before for them to pop in the microwave and enjoy the next morning.

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