The Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Kathy Wakile knows a thing or two about handling unwanted drama and situations that usually stir up during family gatherings (surely you’ve seen the show). But while the newest Jersey housewife member knows how to keep her cool during these types of situations, unfortunately not everyone else can, and that is why she is offering her tips on how to handle these types of issues when they arise.
Kathy recently spoke to Babble to share her tips on how to keep the peace during family gatherings while also sharing her own family traditions and plans for this holiday season.
On Dec. 3 Kathy will also be offering two NJ communities her tried and true tips on family holiday etiquette at two Design Spree stores (Lawrenceville and Maywood, NJ).
Babble: This holiday season, what are your tips for hosts that want to keep a holiday dinner cool, classy and coordinated… despite family chaos and little toddlers running around everywhere?
Kathy: Holidays are always so much fun with family and friends but can be very stressful if you are hosting a holiday party or gathering at your home.
Relationships seem to always get tested because of the extra stress of planning, or unresolved disagreements or just trying to do too much. Try to remember that it’s a special and magical time, a time to celebrate one another and focus on positive memories.
Look through your photos from the past that bring back happy memories that include your guests and set up a gallery of happy memories. DesignSpree (www.designspree.com) has a wide range of decorative picture frames.
Make the gallery eclectic, go a step further by making a copy of each of the photos, before you display them in the new frames and offer them to your guests as a party favor and keepsake of the holiday.
Also, toddlers and young children can get restless waiting around for dinner or anticipating holiday gift giving. Try to set up an area where the kids can play games, gather holiday movies for them to watch & if possible settle them down in their pj’s – make them feel like they’re having a slumber party.
Babble: What should mothers do about babies screaming at the Christmas table? Is it bad etiquette to leave the table?
Kathy: As far as proper etiquette with leaving the dinner table when babies are screaming, I’m not sure what “the perfect “etiquette is but I’m sure if you excuse yourself from the table when you try to pacify your child, none of the other guests will call the etiquette police on you. In fact I’m sure they will be quite relieved that you had enough courtesy to spare them the screaming.
Don’t subject everyone else to a child’s tantrum or bad behavior, because you don’t feel like interrupting your meal or dinner conversation.
Babble: What are some of your favorite Christmas dishes?
Kathy: Christmas always a culinary delight for my family. I always enjoy holiday baking and planning out my menu. For me an important part of planning my menu is making my families favorite things and planning my menu based on what is seasonally the best and most fresh.
If you don’t like to cook, don’t make yourself crazy, instead, use this time to make your home look extra special and inviting, indulge in a new piece of furniture or some very creative decorative accent pieces. If anyone offers to bring something, accept the help and instead pick up some beautiful serving pieces so the table looks really pretty and inviting.
It also shows your guests that even though you didn’t prepare the food you appreciate their help and are proud to make it part of the holiday experience.
Babble: Do you have any particular Italian Christmas traditions you celebrate with your family?
Kathy: Since my husband and I have different cultural backgrounds we always incorporate traditional dishes from both of our heritages. On Christmas Eve, Italians traditionally serve “The feast of the 7 fishes,” when we cook up at least seven different types of fish or seafood, it is very traditional and has a lot of meaning behind it . For the Lebanese side we always make the traditional family favorites.
Start your holiday season by doing something different and keep an open mind about starting new traditions. Try to get out and meet new people, hear their story and share yours with others. You never know what others are going through unless you ask. You may be surprised that your story can help inspire others or someone else’s story may touch you in an unexpected way.
This year my family and I are starting the holiday season by doing just that very thing. We are stopping in to Design Spree (www.designspree.com) to meet & greet some of the wonderful viewers that have been getting a glimpse of our life on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of New Jersey. It’s very special for us to have an opportunity to chat with the viewers & get to know them as well.
Babble: Who will you be spending the Christmas holidays with? Do you have any after-Christmas vacation plans?
Kathy: We are looking forward to spending the holidays with our family & friends this year, sometimes we go away for the holidays and sometimes we are home. But wherever we are or whatever we do we always have fun and count our blessings happy to be healthy and together.
Photo courtesy Forma Photography
Don’t forget to check out Babble’s Holiday Guide 2011!