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Megan Hempel, Daily Sun Assistant Editor

A few years ago I took over hosting the family Christmas party. New to hosting, it's fair to say that preparing for my first party was a struggle. With do-it-yourself renovations constantly ongoing, I decided the day of the party was a good time to pull up the carpet in our bedroom. Small job, huge mistake.

It's no secret that I'm not the handiest person, and without my much-more-capable husband to supervise me, I often get myself into trouble. That being said, while he was outside busy with his own work, I pulled up the carpet as instructed. Almost finished, I heard a loud hissing sound and realized I tripped the old gas valve on the floor, releasing a continuous blast of natural gas into my bedroom.

What did I do? I freaked out, yelled at my son to evacuate, scooped up my little dog, and ran outside. I continued yelling for my very confused husband, who came running toward the sound of my voice but couldn't find me as I continued to run away, circling the house with my equally confused child and dog in tow, still screaming for him to save us.

After running around and through the house looking for us, my poor husband finally figured out what was happening, quickly shut off the gas and came to find me. While we waited outside for the house to air out, I called my guests to ask if they would mind coming an hour later than planned to avoid being poisoned. Needless to say, everyone had a good laugh at my expense.

Despite that mini-emergency, my first Christmas Eve party was a huge success and something we now look forward to each year. Preparing for that party taught me to take my time, prioritize and enjoy the party planning process.

I love the holidays, but often find myself lacking the Christmas spirit. The commercialization of the holiday and emphasis on gift-giving over family time tends to turn me off. Hosting the annual Christmas Eve party really increases my enjoyment of the holiday and gives me the opportunity to give a gift that actually matters to my family and friends – a fun time together to make lasting memories. Since that first year, party planning has become much easier for me, and every Christmas Eve is a little more entertaining and less stressful as I learn to be a better party planner, and avoid the gas valves.

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