Do you dread the hustle and bustle of another holiday season? Between shopping, wrapping, baking, holiday cards, parties, and other obligations, surviving the season can be a feat.
This year, why not make a pact to make this holiday season easier by following these tips?
First, close your eyes and think about what percentage of holiday activities and tasks you would need to eliminate to make the season truly enjoyable and relatively stress-free.
Next, make a list of everything you need to do during the holiday season. This includes parties you’ll need to attend and how much money you’ll need to spend. Now cross off the least important, least necessary, and least popular events and tasks.
Now review the list and calculate how much time and expense you’ve shaved off. If you haven’t reached your predetermined reduction, go through your list again.
Once you’ve decided which commitments you’ll make, plan how you’ll say ‘no’ to all the others, so you’re not caught off guard.
Share in the preparation
Enlist your family to help prepare for the holidays by divvying up the tasks. This is a way to lessen expectations of perfection from yourself or your family.
Sharing in preparation can include planning a potluck gathering so that all the heavy lifting doesn’t fall on one person. You can either suggest what each person should bring or, to avoid duplicates, ask guests to let you know what they’ll bring.
Remember, you probably don’t notice or mind the imperfections in others’ holiday gatherings. They’re just as unlikely to see any in yours.
Holiday time-and-energy savers
- Save time in gift-wrapping by setting up a station in a spare room or the basement. Stock a large box or basket with wrapping paper, ribbon, bows, tags, tape, scissors, and pens, so everything is stored in one place. Have extras of everything on hand.
- Keep cleaning to a minimum. Dismiss unused areas guests won’t see or use, and clean only the obvious in rooms that will be seen.
- Make everyday meals quick and easy throughout the season. Some examples are soups, sandwiches, fresh fruit and vegetables, cottage cheese, pre-cut veggies, dips, and other prepared or semi-prepared healthy foods.
- If possible, do your holiday shopping early in the day on weekdays while your energy is high, and crowds are small.
- Shop online or by catalog. If an item lacks details, search for a manufacturer’s website to get the information you need.
- Give gift cards. Hard-to-shop-for recipients will appreciate something practical. Gift cards to restaurants, department stores, sporting good outlets, specialty shops, or a massage, pedicure, or a round of golf make great gifts.
Decide with whom it’s essential to exchange gifts. Then talk to extended family, friends, coworkers, and others about forgoing gift exchanges, putting a cap on the price, or drawing instead. You’ll likely learn many feel the same as you do.
Holidays with children
Plan family get-togethers either on Christmas Eve or on the weekends before or after the holiday. If that’s not feasible, have an early celebration with your kids the day or weekend before the holiday.
Traveling and holiday visiting are also stressful for young children. Have your kids help with packing, even if it’s only for the day, to make sure their favorite toys aren’t left behind. A security blanket or stuffed animal can also reduce stress for your young child in strange surroundings. Don’t forget to leave yourself plenty of time for rest stops as well.
Care for yourself
Enjoy holiday treats in moderation. High fat and sugary foods can lead to tiredness and stress. Keep goodies stored in the freezer where they’ll be less of a temptation. Have plenty of convenient, healthy snacks such as raw vegetables and nuts on hand.
Prepare low-fat meals that won’t bog you down and pace yourself, don’t try to do everything in one day. Finally, give yourself a break. Get plenty of exercise such as a brisk walk in the fresh air, and set aside time for relaxation, like a long bubble bath.
Things to do for next year
Start your shopping early. Create a new tradition with a friend or family member and set a monthly shopping date for the upcoming year. By making a scheduled commitment, you’ll be more likely to follow through. Keep the early holiday shopping fun and choose a different town or shopping center for each trip, focusing on unique malls or trendy cities.
Also, get a label printing software program or app early in the year and enter all the addresses on your holiday card list. When the holidays roll around, you can print the labels and eliminate the most time-consuming aspect of sending out holiday greetings.
Remember the holiday season should be a joyful time for everyone, including yourself, to join in the good cheer with family and friends. Maximize ways to ease your stress to keep the ‘happy’ in your holidays!