After years of watching my mother and mother-in-law spend a huge chunk of time in the kitchen when everyone visited with their families, I was determined to try to avoid some of that stress.
I prepare as much in advance as I can - preparing fresh vegetables for soups, salads, or stews; making chili or casseroles and freezing them; making pumpkin biscuits and freezing before cooking; making orange cream fruit salad to freeze. Of course, this requires making a menu for the week everyone will be home, but it saves so much time and stress in the long run.
When I taught my children to cook and assigned them a meal per week to plan and prepare, I did not foresee the benefit for family vacations and holidays.
Last Christmas I came up with the brilliant idea (at least I think so) to ask each of my visiting adult children to plan and prepare a dinner while they were home for the holidays. I made sure I had the ingredients available, then all they had to do was cook.
This freed me from the stress of feeling like I was constantly cooking, plus we got to experience some new recipes.
I still planned and prepared most of the Christmas dinner as well as lunches. My husband is the breakfast chef most days, so I didn't have that meal to prepare either.
Most of my children are much better at 'clean as you go' cooking than I am, but everyone still took turns with kitchen clean up duty, too. Spreading the work around seemed to work well for everyone.
Sometimes, as moms, we think we have to do everything. This is one area I am willing to share and you should, too. This plan could work for other extended family gatherings. I believe most people are willing to help, if they know what you want them to do.
Just ask. It will make your holiday cooking chores much less stressful and you will enjoy your family more.