Putting together a holiday dinner party can be stressful from the second the invite is sent out to the moment the last guest leaves your home on the night of the party (when you still have to deal with cleanup). It’s a small wonder anxiety-prone people tend to avoid hosting parties at all.

However, throwing a holiday party is good for your well-being and is simply the polite thing to do when you’ve been invited to other people’s homes during the holidays. The key is recognizing that the roots of holiday party-hosting anxiety comes from self-consciousness. In your mind, you compare your home to those of your friends or family and wonder if your home can “match” the stateliness and cleanliness of a certain home you’ve recently visited. This stems from insecurity.

Don’t fall for this trap of comparing your home to others. Instead, focus on how you can make your guests feel cozy and welcome.

Here are some additional anxiety-minimizing tips for when it’s your turn to host a holiday dinner party.

Anxiety Obstacles to Overcome

When planning a holiday dinner party, we strive to make sure everything is perfect—from table settings to home cleanliness to delicious food—but the stress of making sure everything is in tip-top shape can be too much. Take some time in between preparing everything to sit down and meditate, even listening to some New Age music, so that you can focus on pulling off an authentic, true-to-your-family-style event rather than an impossibly perfect holiday dinner.

When in the hustle and the bustle of getting the dinner party prepared for the holiday, some people might set up unrealistic expectations as to how the house should be when entertaining. This stirs up anxiety, as some people internally feel they have to polish the floors, clean all surfaces, and wash the walls to have the home look impeccable. A good idea to minimize anxiety when cleaning is to make up two lists: one list of essential cleaning chores and a second not-so-essential cleaning chores list. The lists will help you organize your home cleaning time better and not make you feel so bad when you can’t complete all the items on the not-so-essential list.

Guidelines for Success

You Can Keep It Small and Simple
When you’re throwing your first holiday dinner party, you don’t have to go all out and host a major event. Know what you can manage. If an intimate, small dinner party sounds better to you and is simpler to put together because it lowers your anxiety, then do it. It’s perfectly acceptable to host a small, quality holiday-dinner gathering that you and your guests can revel in. Just make sure you have taken guest dietary restrictions into account, placed enough place settings, and looked to sites like Pinterest for tasty food recipe ideas and table-decor tips.

Be a Connector
Match up your friends and invite similar-minded guests you think would mingle well together before, during, and after the dinner party. Not certain whether Guest X will match up well with Guest Y? Turn to your most socially wise friend for advice. He or she may be able to help you make a solid decision on who exactly to invite to your holiday party.

Tone Down the Self-Critique
Keep in mind that your guests are looking forward to spending time with you and your family, not to see if your dinnerware glasses are spotless or to judge whether your floors are clean. They want to enjoy and contribute to the conversation and are likely feeling lucky they get to partake in such a terrific party on a cherished holiday.

The Takeaway

Count your blessings that you are able to throw a hearty holiday bash for your friends and family, and that they are happy to attend, despite all the other invites they received for the holiday. Certainly, you will be somewhat stressed preparing for the get-together, but by following the tips above, your anxiety will be tempered as you prepare for what is certain to be a good time.

Jennifer Scott has experienced anxiety and depression since she was a teenager. She shares stories about the ups and downs of her anxiety and depression at SpiritFinder.