Holiday Hosting: A Survival Guide for the Host with Vision Loss

December 14, 2018 | Leave a Comment

by Polly Abbott, CVRT

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When walking through a crowded room with your cane in one hand and a plate of holiday goodies in the other, use this technique to avoid accidents. Be sure to hold the plate with your arm curved around the edge and your hand grasping it on the part furthest from your body. The back of your hand will be facing out away from you. It’s better to bump others with the back of your hand rather than the edge of your plate.
When walking through a crowded room with your cane in one hand and a plate of holiday goodies in the other, use this technique to avoid accidents. Be sure to hold the plate with your arm curved around the edge and your hand grasping it on the part furthest from your body. The back of your hand will be facing out away from you. It’s better to bump others with the back of your hand rather than the edge of your plate.

 

Thinking of Hosting for the Holidays?

Think about the joy of seeing family and friends for the holidays when you have them all over for a meal. Are you feeling anything but joy at the thought?

Lots of people become overwhelmed at the thought of planning, shopping, preparing and trying to find room to seat everyone. Then there is the last minute house-cleaning before guests arrive and the mountain of dishes afterwards. Now add vision loss into the mix. Are you facing some challenges even before everyone walks through your door?

  • Are you stressing about everything you want to do — planning, shopping, cooking and cleaning — because of the extra time it takes? Worried you are not doing it up to your usual standards and that people will notice?
  • Are you sensing resistance from family members when you talk about hosting? Perhaps your feelings are hurt because their comments seem to communicate they think you can’t do it with your vision loss. Is their brand of “helping” involve them doing it for you, sending you to the sidelines in your own kitchen?
  • Are you wondering how working with others in the kitchen could work smoothly or safely? People moving hot pots and pans where you don’t expect and without telling you is a scary thought!
  • Are you now thinking you can’t take it all on and are feeling blue because you have added another item to the “I can’t do” list that vision loss has created for you?

Hosting a family gathering is possible but careful preparation is essential. Think about the following steps you can take when planning your gathering:

 

Consider Your Space

Change as little as possible about the floor plan. If you are bringing in extra chairs or moving furniture to accommodate more people, be sure to keep them out of your usual travel paths.

 

Move More Cautiously

Be prepared to move more cautiously than usual. A crowd of people will change how the rooms sounds when you move from room to room. Guests may move furniture or set food or drinks down in unexpected places. Young children may be toddling around who, unlike your cat, have not learned to move out of the way.

 

Use Your Cane

Consider using your cane to remind people you don’t see well. It’s easy for distant relatives to forget. Your cane can also provide added protection. Better to contact someone’s ankle with your cane tip than spill down their body with your drink or plate of food.

 

Planning the Menu

Include make-ahead dishes such as dessert and salads. Crock pots or rice cookers can be used to keep food warm. Use serving dishes that are bigger than what you need to minimize spills.

 

Making Effective Use of Helpers

Consider picking your helpers ahead of time to limit the number of people in the kitchen or dining area and say “no thank you” to everyone else.

 

Communicating with Your Helpers

Gather your helpers to talk over how best to work together. Decide what you need people to tell you. Are they opening the oven? Moving the wooden spoon? Carrying a knife to the sink? Be clear on what you would like help with and what you would prefer to do all on your own. Good communication is key for everyone’s safety.

In the end, holidays are about enjoying time with those nearest and dearest — no matter who does the cooking. Focus on what is meaningful and enjoyable for you. What holiday hosting are you planning this year? We’d love to have you share any tips you use to keep it manageable, safe and fun.

Polly is the Director of Rehabilitation Services at Second Sense

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