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“Losing Martha Stewart and Finding Yourself”

When I aim for Pinterest-board perfection, my dinner parties and holidays end up miserable. I stress out, forget to eat, and miss out on conversations. So this year I’m doing things differently. Care to join me?

Since my family has a nice, centrally-located home, we often host holidays, reunions, and other friendly invasions. Good times. Yet, when I think about entertaining — and especially feeding — a pile of people, I sigh a very deep sigh thanks to the great, big gulf between “let me take your coat” and “drive safely.”

Like some of you, I get overstimulated during the holidays, and completely neglect my own needs.

[Free Download: Managing Your Time During the Holidays]

My inattentive ADHD diagnosis came well past college, and I stayed in denial well past that. This was a great way to beat myself up; shame as a product of bubbly, but industrious female social norms. Living in the suburbs and raising children taught me that I’m definitely not the open-door, more-the-merrier type. This poor brain is fielding enough stimuli, thank you, and it hates surprises.

So, having company can deplete folks like me, but it doesn’t have to. The key is in shooting for less magazine perfection, and more detached awareness. That prescription can be surprisingly simple. For example, I’ve begun to consciously plate and eat my own portion of food when I entertain. (I used to forget, and wonder why I emerged starving from my own parties.)

Here are some other starter ways to jettison my brand of ADHD while buzzy friends and family (and more sensory-seeking ADHD guests) relax together for hours on end:

1. Embrace mediocrity.

Everything will be fine, provided the host(s) are. Resist that ocean of stress-inducing sticky notes to “help” you organize and perfect your plans. They’ll only end up adhered to your elbows as you go to hug a relative, or a pet.

[The Goof-Proof Guide to Holiday Entertaining]

2. Lean on your cupboard and skip that “one last” shopping trip.

Work with availability, especially if time is tight. Yes, boxes of rice pilaf that you could assemble blindfolded are legit for a buffet. So is any fruit whatsoever, including canned/fished out of a child’s lunchbox.

3. Call attention to people, not to the half-baked menu/setting.

Good guests aren’t food critics. So why be so hyper-vigilant? Why struggle to balance interruptions with a tray of sauce-on-its-way-to-the-floor appetizers? Go for self-service and one or two focused conversations. Perch outside on the front steps with a guest. It’s okay if you immolate the artichoke dip. Studies show that people primarily remember how you made them feel, which — if you truly were present with them — is good.

[Hosting a Dinner Party When You Have ADHD — What Could Go Wrong?]

Adult ADHD keeps us humble. But rather than be a flight risk in my own home, I am learning to settle in for the occasional bumpy ride. Care to join me?

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