In many cultures, going to grandma's house for the holidays has always been the thing to do. But as we get older, things change. We move to new cities, start our own families, and our grandparents may no longer be around, so our homes may now be the holiday destination for extended family. However, playing host can be a hassle, especially during the holidays when your home becomes your family and friends’ home for a short period. And if this is your first year hosting the holidays at your place, you can be in for a rude awakening if you don’t make the necessary preparations beforehand.
We spoke to NYC-based experience curator and owner of POP! by Yaz, Yasmin “Yaz” Quiles to help guide first-timers. According to Yasmin, an experience curator is “someone who not only focuses on an actual event but the entire experience and that can mean anything from the first point of contact, things from an invitation, a website, all the way to the end and after effects.”
If you are hosting the holidays in your home, it is important to touch on all of these points so that way your guests can have an experience to remember. Here are the steps to successfully host family and friends for the holidays.
1.Plan and Organize:
Before people start showing up to your house, you must plan out what you need and for how many people. It's also a great time to be creative. “The first part is the dream part because it’s the fun part. What do I envision my event to look like? What do I want my people to feel when they come to my space? Ask all of the questions for the first point of contact,” says Yasmin. “What kind of invitation [am I using?] Who am I inviting? What kind of music are we listening to? The food. So, you start thinking about what the vision is, and then after the dreaming, you organize your thoughts.”
That includes putting together a budget. “See what you have access to, what you need help with, and what you may need to outsource,” she advises. Meaning, this is the time to decide if you and your family will be cooking or if everyone will chip in to get dinner catered.
2.Repurpose Your Items:
Photo courtesy of Yasmin Quiles
As you continue to plan and organize, it's important to take stock of what you already have at home. This can also help you stay within budget. If you have a limited budget then start thinking about how to utilize what you already have in a innovative way.
“I also like to start with inventory. What [are] items in your house that you can use? That way you can determine what it is that you have to get,” she suggests. “I feel like a lot of people always put together a list and it's always 'buy, buy, buy, buy,' versus ‘oh, wait a minute, I actually do have some things that I can utilize and I can just use it in a different way.’”
For example, “Utilizing a console as a small bar area or creating fake fireplaces. I think there are ways to use items in your space so that you don’t have to continue to fill it up with new things.”
3.Make Your Guests Feel Like They Are at Home:
Ever heard the saying, "mi casa es su casa?" You want your space to make guests feel like a home away from home and having a cozy place to sleep plays a major part in that. Be realistic about how many people you can fit comfortably in your home. “Figure out how much space you have in your house and how many people you can truly accommodate,” she says. “What that means is even if you have a two-bedroom apartment, what are some creative ways you can create some space for them? Is it an air mattress or is it getting a hotel that is close to you; Airbnb's?”
You also want to provide your guests with the necessary accouterments and the gift of convenience. If you have certain rituals in your home, you want to make sure your guests can also participate in them. “What I love to do with my guests, I always love to make them feel like they're at home even when they are not, so I like to replicate the things I love in a hotel room. In our house we take off our shoes so we always have disposable slippers here that people can slide on or brand new socks in a basket,” she explains. “That way they can feel immediately comfortable the moment they pass the threshold in your house."
"And in the bathroom or if there’s a powder room, I like to put together a little welcome basket and it can be something as simple as here’s your towel, here’s your washcloth, all the little toiletries you may need," she adds. "I give them their own little stash, that way they don’t feel like they’re burdening me by asking, 'oh, do you have q-tips' or whatever it is. It’s all already set up there for them and it makes them feel so welcome and thought of.”
4.Food and Entertainment:
Photo courtesy of Yasmin Quiles
Along with welcome baskets, the Afro-Latina entrepreneur also enjoys putting lists together with a few of her recommendations. Think, welcome lists you receive at hotels and Airbnb. “I’ll put together a short list of my favorite restaurants, my favorite channels or shows to watch that way they can be entertained while I’m doing other things,” she says.
The holidays involve a lot of cooking and so going out to eat may not be an option. But neither is eating mac and cheese, collard greens, and ham all day, every day. So, it's best to provide options for your guests. “When people go to other people’s homes, they really want the house experience so eating out is great, it’s fine, but I think it really makes people happy when immediately there at home at your house," explains Yasmin.
"What I like to do is immediately have an assortment of snacks available and that means everything from the folks that are on a diet to folks who want to indulge and have a little bit of everything. That way we have a good selection. And [I like to have] things that can be left out for a couple of days as well so I’m thinking pre-packaged items that way [they can] 'grab and go.'”
When having guests stay over for a few days, you should want to do more than just stay in and look at each other the whole time. Similarly to the way Yasmin advises providing a list of recommendations for eating out and indoor entertainment for guests, she suggests providing guests with a list of favorite stores or favorite markets with recommendations of what to buy.
This can also be a great time to show your guests where you live by going on walks or a scenic drive. "A lot of times these holiday celebrations happen when we are in the midst of planning and doing things and doing all the last-minute errands. Another thing I like to do is photo albums, people love photo albums.”
Yasmin recommends having a physical photo album that you and your guests can look through or a digital frame such as Aura Frames that holds photos online that you can continue to add to.
What’s left is providing the ambiance. One of the many ways that people do this is by having a playlist. Creating a playlist is fun but can also be time-consuming. Not only do you have to add your auntie's favorite Christmas song to the playlist but you may also want to take a trip down memory lane with your siblings and jam to a throwback from your childhood. Yasmin reveals a solution, which she refers to as an “elevated” experience.
“You can hire a DJ. They can do a set on Twitch,” Yasmin says. “There’s a chatroom function so you can put it on your TV, so all the guests who are there can listen to the music live but if there are guests who can’t make it for whatever reason, they can tune in and participate via the chat.”
The experience curator also suggests having a quiet space for those who are more introverted or need a break from the loud music and crowd.
Whether you and your family decide to cook together or hire a caterer, cleaning up after a big event is always a buzz kill. Yasmin recommends outsourcing help as a way to enjoy yourself and not worry about the aftermath. “Clean up can be a big hassle. It is okay to get a cleaning team. It is okay to hire a bartender. It is okay to hire anybody who can make your job easier,” she assures.
“The point of these events really is to connect and I feel we get so caught up in the doing that we forget that and the party ends and we’re like ‘dang, I didn’t get to have a conversation with my best girlfriend who I haven’t seen in six months.’ Give yourself permission to outsource so that you can have a good time.”
For more information about Yasmin, you can visit her website at yazquiles.com and follow her on Instagram @popbyyaz.
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Feature image courtesy of Yasmin Quiles
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London Alexaundria is the contributing editor for xoNecole. She is an alum of Clark Atlanta University, where she majored in Mass Media Arts and has worked in journalism for over ten years. You can follow her on Instagram and TikTok @theselfcarewriter
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(Some of y’all) can hate on the Tubi app if you want to, but if there’s one thing that it’s gonna do (for free, I might add), it's bring up some memories of shows that you haven’t thought about for a hot minute. Take the Black indie seriesSexless and its spin-off,Chef Julian, for example. The realness of the writing, along with the way the shows overlap, is truly a — pardon the pun — chef’s kiss.
So much, in fact, that the character Wendy had me triggered all over again as I binge-watched both shows recently. I mean, c’mon — who dates best friends and then tries to play victim while doing so? Yeah, accountability is a lost art in both reality and fiction, in art and in life. SMDH.
As again, I watched her try and navigate through both relationships as she strived to figure out which man would truly be the best fit for her, I thought about a question that I get emailed on a semi-regular basis. When you’ve been with someone for a while, when you have deep and profound feelings for them, and when you’re not sure if you’re just being “extra” or something really is “off” in the relational dynamic — how do you know if it’s time to stay vs. when it’s time to go?
Before we get all up into this, let me just say that I’m addressing this particular topic from the angle of NOT being married. Because I personally think that the covenant of marriage is way more sacred and serious than a dating situation, I would be giving some different advice for husbands and wives. Also, I’m not including the topic of abuse (neglect included) because I’m hoping it goes without saying that if any type or level of that is transpiring, you definitely need to bring things to a swift and permanent end.
With all of that out of the way, today, we’re going to explore seven questions that you should ask yourself in the instance that you just can’t seem to “scratch the itch” on whether you should remain with your bae…because while nothing is actually “bad,” things are not as good as they used to be either. And since time is precious and you don’t want to waste it, you want to make sure that you’re right where you’re supposed to be.
Are you ready to (hopefully) gain more clarity than you had before clicking on this article? Let’s do this.
1. Do I Get That Even Relationships Have “Seasons”?Giphy
Ecclesiastes 3 starts out talking about the fact that there are times and seasons for everything. And you know what? Relationships are not exempt. The reason why I’ve written articles for the site like “The ‘Seasons Of Sex’ That Married People Go Through” is because everything in this life has seasons — you know, periods when things shift. When it comes to the weather, whether we like the season that we’re in or not, we simply adjust because…what choice do we have?
Oh, but when it comes to relationships, so many of us have been conditioned to think that things are supposed to remain one way (usually the way we want it to be), without fluctuating, the entire time, that when there is a season of distance, disconnect or misunderstanding, we automatically believe it’s our cue to bounce instead of taking some time to process if it’s simply a period for communicating, maturing and learning more about our partner.
Listen, there is no way that people can grow without it affecting those around them, especially the ones whom they are closest to. So, before you decide to end things with your significant other, talk to them about what’s going on so that both of you can figure out if you’re going through an unfamiliar or uncomfortable season or if things are transitioning in a way where the relational dynamic no longer serves one or both of you.
Because I’ll tell you what — the people who have mastered longevity in relationships know that just like the weather, sometimes there are things that you have to learn to be flexible about…because even if you’re not thrilled with how certain things are at the moment, just like the weather, oftentimes, those things will change. Just like summer isn’t forever and fall comes in due time.
Plus, if you’re someone who can adapt well, there are pros and cons with different seasons, too. For instance, if this is a season when your partner is working more hours or traveling more than usual, if the goal is to get promoted or stack bread, the extra time that you have for yourself could help you to create some more long-term or short-term goals, pick up a hobby or do some self-work. Then, by the time things level back out, you’ll both be better people because of the “season.” See what I mean?
2. Did I Go into This with Unrealistic or Unfair Expectations?Giphy
I’m gonna tell you, right out the gate, what an unrealistic or unfair expectation is: If you thought that things were always gonna go your way or you were gonna get what you want right when you want it. I can’t tell you how many people have pretty much worn me out in counseling sessions, and it’s all because they thought a relationship was a catering service — that them being happy all of the time was to be the top priority and non-negotiable goal.
Something that wisdom, maturing, and self-reflection will teach you is that one of the main purposes of a relationship is to be with someone you love, respect, enjoy, trust, and can rely on to help you become a better person as you do the same for them. And no, that is not always going to be a fairy tale. In fact, I have said on many occasions that I loathe fairy tales (for adults) because I know what they mean: a story told to children and/or an incredible and misleading account. And don’t even get me started on the women who profess that they are waiting on their Prince Charming. After all, the Bible tells us that “charm is deceitful” (Proverbs 31:30).
Does this mean that you shouldn’t expect to have your needs — and even some of your wants — met? Of course, you should. Yet your needs need to make (reachable) sense. And honestly, a lot of folks could stand to ask themselves if they are able to give their partner all of the things that they expect from them (because many cannot).
So, what are some examples of unrealistic/unfair expectations?
- Expecting your partner to think just like you do
- Expecting your partner to read your mind
- Expecting love to mean that you won’t have to compromise
- Expecting your partner to give above their means
- Expecting your partner to be the sole source of your happiness
- Expecting your partner to love you more or better than you love yourself
- Expecting your partner to put their own needs in jeopardy just to meet yours
- Expecting your partner to always agree with or concede to you
- Expecting your relationship to always have good times and no challenges
- Expecting your partner to be the only one to make sacrifices
- Expecting every expectation to be met
I really was on a roll while writing these out, yet I’m sure you get the gist. Being in a relationship with another human being means that they have their own opinions, perspectives, and expectations — and they aren’t always going to match yours. And so, if you think that the sign of a healthy relationship is that they should, you really should be alone instead of trying to be with someone else. Because that way of thinking is the most unrealistic of them all.
3. Are We Incompatible or Am I Just Impatient?Giphy
When you get a chance, please read, “If He's Right For You, He Will COMPLEMENT Your Life.” In another article, I’ll be addressing why love is not enough in relationships. For now, one of the reasons why that is the case is because you can LOVE a lot of people who you simply cannot DO LIFE with. That’s why it really is important to seriously ponder if you and he are compatible or not.
To be compatible means that you share similar values, have like-minded relational goals, want the same long-term things out of life, have at least some of the same interests, and complement each other well when it comes to things like communication and meeting each other’s needs.
Listen, I’ve loved a few men in my life where these boxes did not check off, and because of our feelings for each other, we stayed together far longer than we ever should’ve.
At the same time, what if you are compatible with someone, but you’re just impatient as hell? I’ve been watching the current season ofReady to Love, and there are some women on there who are mad pushy when it comes to the clock. Personally, I don’t even know how you can hop on a show where you just met some dudes and roll up on them talking about how you want to be married by the end of the year. Yeah, it’s another message for another time, the amount of people who are tied to a goal more than a person.
Anyway, sometimes your partner can be in the same chapter as you (love story-wise) yet still not necessarily on the same page. Meaning, say that you want to be married this year, and he wants to wait until this time next year — are you contemplating ending things without considering his frame of mind? Maybe he wants to save money. Maybe he’s trying to secure some things professionally first. Maybe he wants to give you the kind of wedding (and ring) you want without relying on credit to get it.
It's one thing to end a relationship because you both want different things out of life. Oh, but it’s completely different to bounce because you’re used to folks giving into your pressure, ultimatum, or time frames. I’m not the one who thinks that a good man is hard to come by; I know many. I do think finding YOUR FIT isn’t as easy as you might believe, though.
A Canadian writer by the name of Janette Oke once said, “Impatience can cause wise people to do foolish things,” and, to that, the Good Book says that “Loveis patient” (I Corinthians 13:4). If you’re gonna end something, make sure it’s because the puzzle pieces don’t fit; not because you’re too impatient to see how the pieces will create a beautiful picture…when the time is right.
4. Do I Still Love, Like and Respect Him?Giphy
The married couples whom I work with know that I live by a certain, I guess you can call it a motto: “If you still like each other, you can get back to love.” Liking someone is about enjoying their personality, wanting to spend time with them, and having feelings that are rooted in friendship, acceptance, and appreciation. When those things are present and accounted for, all of the butterflies, googly eyes, and sheer lust that the feelings of love may provide — they can usually get you through the seasons when those feelings seem to be missing.
And respect? Listen, a lot of women get triggered by the fact that the Bible instructs husbands to love their wives while telling wives to respect — respect, not love — their husbands (Ephesians 5:33), yet you know what? If you’re gonna be real with yourself, you know that it’s hard to love a man who you don’t respect — who you don’t esteem. We’re simply not wired to trust a man who we don’t think will be a good provider, protector, and leader on some level.
Confession time: I stayed in a relationship with someone who I really liked, kind of loved, and absolutely did not respect (as a man) for quite some time, once upon a time. And all it did was make me resentful and him insecure — and that was a form of mental and emotional torture for both of us.
You’re not doing a man any favors by staying with him if you don’t respect him. And it doesn’t make sense to try and build a future with someone who you don’t like a ton. As far as love goes, love is a beautiful thing — very. All I’m saying is, like, love and respect are a package deal when it comes to how we see a man. If one of those things is missing, ask yourself why and then be honest about if anything can be done to change how you’re feeling or…not.
5. What Would Improve About My Life If I Leave?Giphy
This right here. Although this article is for people who are dating and not married, I do think it would be beneficial to put on record that, on average, somewhere between 30-40 percent of people regret getting a divorce. I think one of the main reasons is because the person you were when going into a marriage isn’t the person you are leaving it. You’re older. Dating dynamics in society have changed (and are ever-changing). You probably have a different set of life circumstances that may make dating more challenging (for instance, you may have kids now, and it takes a very special person to be a good potential stepparent).
Unfortunately, a lot of people will leave a relationship without considering this, only to have the ice-cold water of reality hit them smack dab in the face.
Now listen, I will be the first person to say that one of the major perks of dating is you don’t have to try and put the same effort into your relationship as married folks do. In fact, all of these non-engaged folks who spend months and years in couples therapy to try and make things work? Unless you’re someone who is in a long-term relationship with no desire to ever get married (check out “12 Couples Reveal Why They're Happy With A Long-Term Commitment Instead Of Marriage”), I don’t even get why you’re going through all of the trouble (or is it drama?). Some people have acted married before marriage so often, they don’t take marriage seriously enough when it finally does happen for them. SMDH.
This is where this particular question comes in. When you’re just dating, you really don’t have to hold on for dear life. You’re not “failing” if you realize that someone really is awesome — just not the right or best fit for you. And the reason why you know this is because you can actually name more than three ways that your life would get better if you left them alone.
Maybe you’d feel less stressed out. Maybe you’d have more time to focus on some personal ambitions. Maybe you’re compromising some core values that you want to get back to. Maybe they have you questioning some things about yourself that you know you shouldn’t be. Sometimes it’s as simple as maybe you’re feeling like something/one is better for you, and you know you won’t find them while you’re still…where you’re at.
This particular question really is underrated on a lot of levels because, while a lot of people are out here ending relationships on an emotional impulse, when you know that you’re leaving because you have a literal list of how your life would improve if you did dip out, that makes grieving the relationship less painful and finding closure, on some levels, less necessary (as far as dragging things out are concerned).
6. What Would Be Beneficial If I Stay?Giphy
If something (or one) isn’t making you better, it’s either keeping you stagnant or making you worse, and you know what? Neither of those are good. So yeah, it’s also wise to ask yourself how you would benefit — mind, body, and spirit — to stay where you’re at. And honestly, one of the best ways to figure out the answer to this question is to fully take in a relationship-based quote that I have shared on the platform before:
“As soon as the love relationship does not lead me to me, as soon as I in a love relationship do not lead another person to himself, this love, even if it seems to be the most secure and ecstatic attachment I have ever experienced, is not true love. For real love is dedicated to continual becoming.” (Leo Buscaglia)
When something (or someone) benefits you, they are helpful, they are useful, they are constructive. No, this does not speak to transactional dating (which is oftentimes very self-centered and mercenary); what this means is they are improving your quality of life — prayerfully, on several levels. And no, this does not mean that everything is easy all of the time, either.
Sometimes, what helps you is constructive criticism. Sometimes what’s useful for you is being challenged in ways you’ve never been before. Sometimes what’s constructive is learning how to be more flexible, understanding, and forgiving (umm, like you would want your partner to be towards you…right?).
So, just like you should ask yourself how you would get better if you left, be real about how you are becoming better by staying. This is where a good old-fashioned pros and cons list comes in super handy. If the “improve” outweighs the “beneficial,” if you know that you are not becoming more of who you need to be thanks, in part, to the influence of the relationship…well…I’m sure you get what I’m about to say…about that.
7. Have I Been Here Before?Giphy
A wise person once said, “Everywhere you go, there you are” and boy, can it be a hard pill to swallow sometimes. Something else that I’m a firm believer in is that the universe will keep you in the same “life class” for decades if needed, until you learn whatever it is that a particular lesson is trying to teach you. So, one more question: Before you decide to call it quits, how many times have you been in this same spot — the same kind of relationship? The same type of guy? The same kind of issues? The same type of break-up?
Because there is absolutely no point in abruptly chalking it up to, “It was all his fault…again,” just so you can find another man to say this about in another six months or a year. If you’ve been here before, take some time out to do some serious self-pondering as to why.
Every action has a reaction; I’m pretty sure that you’ve heard that saying at least once before — and when it comes to ending a relationship, it is most definitely true. If you’re wondering if you should, honestly, that’s already a feeling that is trying to tell you something. However, now that you’ve read all of this, hopefully, you can take some actions that you will feel at peace about…and won’t regret.
Because if you’re gonna end something, it’s a good idea to know why, so you can feel truly at peace about doing it — and yes, I’m speaking from very up close and personal experience here. Get your internal answers. Move wisely from there, sis.
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Featured image by Lyndon Stratford/Getty Images