How We Enjoy (a Stress-free) Christmas at Run of the River

People often ask how we manage having a full inn while entertaining 10-20 people in our home during the holidays. It can be difficult to find time to kick your feet up and enjoy the true spirit of the holiday season, but remember, YOU are (mostly) in control of how hectic or magical the day feels!

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On Christmas Day, we want to make sure all our ROTR staff members have the day off to revel in the joys of the season with their families. This means we gather up the Bollinger family and use all-hands-on-deck to run business as usual for breakfast at the inn (with an extra touch of Christmas cheer, of course!). Since we do spend time working at the inn on Christmas Day, we like to make sure that things are ready to run smoothly once we get back home to continue the celebration.

Working on Christmas Day still feels jolly when family is together!

Here are some of our favorite ways to relax and weather the storm:

Our decorating at home typically comes in waves throughout the holiday season. We try to have the house decorated throughout December, not only to enjoy the décor for as long as possible, but also to make sure there is not a mad dash to decorate before guests arrive! If you don’t already have a holiday tablescape or centerpiece, don’t fret! Phone your local florist and they will be happy to create something sized to your table and a bit more personal than the offerings on the floral websites. Have it delivered a day or two before Christmas. Even grocery store chains are creating beautiful florals nowadays, which can serve as a perfect last-minute touch!

Check out our tablescape blog post if you need some inspiration!

We have a Sonos sound system at the house that allows us to play our favorite Christmas tunes throughout the house while cooking, baking, decorating, and hanging with loved ones. (Sometimes we even battle for control of the music and jump in to change each other’s songs via WiFi…ah, the joys of modern technology and a little healthy competition!) You can make a holiday playlist of your own, find one on Spotify (the “Folksy Christmas” is beautifully mellow, while “Pop Christmas” features lots of favorites with a new twist). If you like to go old school, pull your albums and CDs ahead of time and have them ready for holiday grooving. Be sure to consider your guests when selecting. When we have young ones around, we make sure to play some classics so everyone can sing along – a rousing rendition of “Frosty the Snowman” is always a good time! This also applies to holiday movies. We are big movie-buffs in the Bollinger household and make sure to enjoy all of our favorites during the holiday season – kicking off with Christmas Vacation on Thanksgiving evening! But not all “holiday” movies are fit for every audience, so have a few on hand that can be enjoyed by all your guests (from grandparents to grandchildren). Some favorites at our home are “White Christmas,” “The Santa Clause,” and “Arthur Christmas.”

For ongoing entertainment, we have a holiday jigsaw puzzle out on a coffee or side table. If you have never done this, you will be surprised how much interaction it generates for young and old! We find that a 300-piece puzzle is the perfect size. Have two or three stacked up so when one is finished, puzzle hounds can just keep going.

We like to host our big family dinner on Christmas Eve. We serve prime rib for two reasons: it is easier than you may think and doesn’t take long to cook, and we can use the leftovers for mini prime rib dips on Christmas Day!

Who doesn't want to spend less time cooking and more time enjoying this Winter Wonderland?!

Having a plan for breakfast on Christmas morning helps us keep the busy day moving. French toast with cranberry maple syrup, and a black forest ham and greens frittata are easy to make and will satisfy a hungry group. Ramp it up by using eggnog in your French toast batter (check out the recipe at the bottom of the page!).

After a big breakfast and opening gifts, we have found that people prefer to “nosh” during the day, so we serve appetizers and hors d’oeuvres. There are many recipes that can be made ahead of time, and we like to give an opportunity for friends dropping-in for the day to bring their holiday favorite to share. This easy meal plan means we can relax and enjoy more time with our family and friends!

A cozy and matchy-matchy onesie Christmas afternoon at the Bollinger house!

We like to keep Christmas cozy and want our loved ones from near and far to feel like they’re at home. While our Christmas Eve dinner tends to get us spiffed-up, we encourage Christmas sweaters and even fun onesies for lounging around and enjoying the big day in comfort! Taking off some of the pressure of hosting a formal gathering really allows us to focus on the people instead of the production. When we have a large group, we love doing a gift exchange or even getting silly with a round of white elephant gifts (you wouldn’t believe the battle that ensued over a unicorn fannypack!). As the day progresses, our family loves to get out the card and board games. It’s a great opportunity to sit around a table and soak up the pleasure of others’ company.

Card games can entertain your guests until late in the evening...if you don't mind them staying that long!

…and don’t forget the practical things, like strategically placed garbage bags for crumpled gift wrap, paper plates and other disposable items. Kiddos love to be “garbage monitors” and like to hand out presents and clean up all the fun goodies left behind!

We hope to be a part of your holiday tradition some day soon!

Holiday traditions are incredibly unique and special to each family. We so appreciate the chance to give you a peek at ours, which have certainly evolved over our past eight Christmases at Run of the River! We are so looking forward to another beautiful holiday.

We wish you the best and brightest this holiday season and in the New Year! Come see us soon!

Kick your feet up and surround yourself with the beauty and peace of the holidays!

Here are a couple recipes to get you started:

One of our favorite Prime Rib recipes from the folks at Fine Cooking.

We like this Frittata from Better Homes and Gardens.

This Eggnog French Toast can be prepped the night before and popped in the oven on Christmas morning.

For the cranberry maple syrup boil 1- pound fresh cranberries and 2 cups maple syrup for 10-15 minutes. Cool to warm and serve.

Tips given here are things we do in our personal household and are not necessarily implemented at the inn. They can be modified for any day or celebration.

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