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Is Mom Too Old to Be Hosting for the Holidays?



"My mother has hosted Christmas at her home for as long as I can remember. She has a very large house, and out-of-town family members fly in and stay there. It’s a wonderful time each year. We decorate the tree, sing, and play games. We also sled, and have an absolutely beautiful Christmas.

My mother is now 80 years old, and my father is gone. Guests keep coming, and Mom keeps serving as the host. She never complains about the work, but I’m starting to see the toll it takes on her. She works herself so very hard, preparing rooms, cleaning, and cooking. It is a lot of work.

I’m not saying the guests don’t help out, because they do. Still, the work of having so many people in your home for a few days is a heavy load. Just imagine 10 overnight guests for three days or so. Some of my family members have wondered if this tradition needs adaptation.

I love the holidays, and I want my mother to continue the tradition. I just wonder how to make it enjoyable for her and not too taxing."



Oh, the holidays! So much fun, and so much work. I know it never occurred to me as a child how much work it was for my parents. Someone must do the work to make the event happen, and it falls to the host.

As we age, hosting only gets more taxing, as you have come to realize. The older someone gets, the harder it is to complete the tasks necessary to prepare the house and feed the crowd.

My suggestions for your mother are as follows:

  • If Mom wants things to remain the same –
    • Arrange for a trusted son or daughter to prepare meals. 
    • Arrange for another son or daughter to do meal clean up.
    • Assign someone to bathroom and laundry duty. 
    • Assign all guests to strip their beds upon departure and remake with fresh sheets.
    • Have a child or grandchild help with decorations: put up, take down, and storage.
    • In other words: plan to parcel the work amongst the family.
  • If Mom wants a change, here are a few suggestions –
    • Seek a new tradition. Have some guests stay with other family members. 
    • Have the locals each host a meal.
    • Consider a destination Christmas where each family unit rents a space for their family.
  • If Mom is resistant to any change, but clearly needs help –
    • It’s time for truth telling. Let Mom know that you see how tired she is before, during and after the holidays. Tell her you intend to assist her, or she needs to hire out the help. 
    • Food can be catered.  (One of my most enjoyable parties was when I catered the meal. I actually enjoyed it myself.)
    • Servers can be hired.
    • A cleaning service can be called in after the guests leave.

Another thing to consider is that life rolls along and we all age. What we can and want to do will change. We all must and will adapt. Talk your mother through adaptation. Keep the traditions that are really important, and make some new ones in place of those that can be dropped. 

The holidays are about connecting with each other. Keep that in mind and the spirit will be present.


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