AKA Why I do not host as much as I would like.
I will first start out saying that for many years we lived about 1200-1500 miles from our families, but we have recently moved back to the area with all family members being in about a 2 hour drive, which we don't consider too much for a holiday(nor do most of our family members)
I will start with the first time that I tried to host our families after moving back. It was for one of our boys birthdays, which is at the end of September. I called around to all our family members, checked football schedules etc. to make sure that everyone could come to the party, as this was also the first time that we would host people with the house set up as we had moved about a month previous. I arranged the party for the afternoon, like 1-3 and told family that they could come early and we would have lunch. My brother said that he had a work commitment earlier in the day, and his gf was out of town, but he would be there as soon as he could and for the party, so don't hold lunch for him. A few days before we get a call from SIL saying that they (sil, bil and 3 kids) had been invited to another party at the same time as ours so they would be leaving just as our guests were showing up. I was mildly upset as they had never attended a single party for our kids, but whatever, they could come for lunch and leave. Then we were asked to move the party up so her kids wouldn't miss it, even though I had already invited kids from school for the later time. I repeately said that it wasn't possible to move it as there were other kids coming, but they could do the bouncer before because that would be set up. I also set out the craft that I had for the party and let them do it early, as it wasn't a set thing, kids could do it when they wanted a break from other activities. There was much debate between us (DH and I) and MIL and SIL as to what should be done. It was finally decided that sil, bil and 2 kids would leave for the other party and MIL would take home the third child when our party was over. A few minutes after our non-family guests arrived, SIL decided to leave. Rather than quietly say good bye and shuttle the kids out, it was a major announcement that they were leaving for another party. When her youngest child figured out that she was supposed to go now before doing all the other stuff that was set out for the party, she had a major meltdown. Think laying on the ground, screaming and crying, shouting about how the other party wasn't going to be any fun and she wanted to stay. SIL just yelled at her that she needed to get up as they were leaving now. MIL was dying of humiliation at this (at SIL or the child I am not sure as to which) The child was eventually appeased with several goodie bags and taking some of the craft supplies with her, to which MIL kept asking if it was ok. I responded that these things had been purchased for the kids and it was fine for her to take them. A few minutes after they left, everything was fine and it was a great party otherwise.
Next time we hosted was about a month later for another child's party. We had a make your own pizza party and the kids played pool out in the barn. Everyone walked into the kitchen, saw the bowl of dough rising and pointed and said "what is that?" I responded that it was lunch, to which they made blah faces until I explained that it was pizza dough. Also SIL came with 4 children only two of which were hers and the other two were her neighbors.
Thanksgiving was the next holiday coming up and we asked to host. Initially most of the family agreed to come (I think FIL was going to one of his stepkids) and we prepared a menu for 18-20 people and bought food for that many and started preparing food for that many. Less than a week before Thanksgiving SIL decided that she wanted to host instead, except that she doesn't know how to cook a turkey, so MIL would have to make one and bring it to her house so that MIL couldn't come to our house. MIL explained that SIL is jealous of our house as we paid only $10K more that she did and we have a pretty big house, with a nice garage and beautiful trees (I love my trees, they are one of my favorite things about this house) and nice landscaping (as the previous owner was into gardening). Her house is much smaller, the garage is falling down, and most of their land is swampy. So MIL when along with SIL's plan and made the turkey and brought it over. Then most of my family decided that they didn't want to come either as it was too long to drive for "just a meal" so instead of 18-20 people, we had 8 (five being my immediate family plus my mother, father and brother.) We ate turkey, stuffing and pie until Christmas.
Next came the Christmas marathon, we celebrated Christmas eve with my family as we always have (we are italian) Christmas day, no one on DH's side had time to see us, so we stayed over at my parents and planned to see everyone the following day which is also DH"s birthday. The morning of DH's birthday, the weather predicted terrible snow in the afternoon. We had invited everyone for the afternoon about 3 so we would have time to get things ready. I had already made most of the food for the party before Christmas and just had to run out for a few fresh ingredients and finish up preparing and make the cake. At 8 in the morning, we get a call from SIL saying that they had seen the weather and decided to come up early, they were already on their way and the kids were hungry so be sure to have some breakfast for them. We were still in bed! I jumped up and threw on clothes and went down to the kitchen where breakfast was going to be cold cereal and milk, which aside from dinner, was about all that was in the fridge, and there wasn't enough for five more people. So I went to the store while DH and DS1 tidied up. Somehow we managed to put out breakfast and get the house enough in order before they arrived. The rest of DH's family simply cancelled and we saw them much later in the week. The reason that I think that SIL insisted on coming up 6 hours early. We had managed to find the hot toy that Christmas that one of her children really wanted. I offered to give SIL the toy so that it would be under the tree on Christmas morning, but SIL didn't want to do that for some reason. They ate, opened presents, and promptly left.
There have been plenty of other headaches with hosting our families, but I am going to stop here. I can generally laugh about most of it, some of it still makes me grumble though. We backed off on hosting a bit, but we really like to have people over and cook, and bought a house that was set up for entertaining. (It actually disturbs me a bit when people around town tell me how great our house is for parties, as they had been to parties with the previous owners) SO it is a give and take with it all, we try to roll with things as much as possible and we realize that we may not be either the perfects hosts or the perfect guest either.
Thanks for reading.