When I asked myself what were the most stressful things about the holidays, they were invariably related to getting my house ready for guests, and cooking. So I just decided to make peace with a little mess (except for the bathrooms and keeping the dishwasher and trash bins emptied).
I started cooking a day or two before the event, limiting the number of dishes I made to one protein, one starch, one vegetable, and one dessert (which I’m fine with buying from Trader Joe’s, but I can usually rely on my 13-year-old to make something delectable). Usually the protein would be something slow cooked or slow roasted, so I didn’t have to worry too much about timing, and the veg could be steam-in-the-bag, which takes about 5 minutes. With the dishwasher and trash bins empty, clean-up can happen along the way, and having a sink full of hot soapy water can hold things that can’t fit into the dishwasher.
So the day of the holiday, I’d stick all the food in crockpots to keep warm, sit back and just stay present with my kids and guests. It’s lovely to just enjoy their happiness, the conversation, games, and good food that I’m not stressed over. 10/10 would recommend simplifying everything about every holiday.