Don’t make everything from scratch – cheat a little with quality premade delicious treats and sides.
If you decide to cook everything get most of your side dishes and desserts done ahead of time.
You don’t need 6 side dishes - pick 2 or 3.
Put out a bar so people can make their own drinks.
Say yes to help in the kitchen!
Ship gifts ahead of time.
At the airport pack your food and toiletries in their own separate zip lock bags so you clear security easily.
Pack fun toys or candy for the kids.
Load up your iPhone or tablet with lots of games, music and books.
Day of the party -
If politics are too much to talk about - plan an activity. Make ornaments, decorate cookies, play a game or grab the old photo books and go through them. Create something to do to avoid the discourse.
Set the table ahead of time and set out the serving dishes too.
If the standard gift exchange is getting old – go with a theme – white elephant, flip flop exchange (I’d say socks but we are here in SoCal and we are in flip flops more than socks!), cooking spice exchange, snack/cookie exchange, favorite Christmas movie or favorite candy! There are lots of fun possibilities – get creative.
Again, if people ask to help clean up just say YES!