Well, Thanksgiving will be here before we know it and before we’ve had a chance to digest our turkey and stuffing, we will be inundated with a cacophony of holiday shopping commercials that act as the gunshot that unleashes the race of the holiday season.
There’s so much to do in just a few short weeks; shopping, cleaning, baking, cooking and decorating. It’s enough to drive anyone to madness. But before you have a chance to get caught up in the frenzy, take a few minutes to go over these five tips that might just help you keep the "happy" in "Happy Holidays."
Christmas season is no time to “wing it.” Get out your calendar before you put that turkey in the oven and come up with a plan. Before you set aside time for parties and shopping, set aside a few days on the calendar for nothing but relaxation. Mark those days off with a big “X” on your calendar and then stick to it. Hold those days sacred and do not under any circumstances schedule anything on those days, no matter how tempted you are. Trust me, having even a few days filled with nothing but relaxation will do wonders.
Also, take some advice from the big guy in the red and white suit and make a few lists. Make a shopping list for everyone in the family, make a list of what needs done around the house, make a list of what you want to cook. All of this will help keep you organized. Don't get lazy but don't get so overwhelmed that you're out of breath. Pace yourself. Remember, slow and steady wins the race. If you keep checking those lists and marking stuff off, you’ll be able to see your progress and you'll stay motivated.
Let’s face it ladies, we’re notorious for trying to do everything ourselves. And sure, the men in our lives might not be as quick with a glue gun, but they’re certainly capable of helping out. The key here is to tell them how much you will appreciate their help, how happy it will make you and here’s the big one, remind them that you won’t turn into “crazy holiday lady” if he lends a helping hand. That is enough to motivate almost any man!
Children are also great helpers. The holidays are a perfect time for them to pitch in. They can decorate the tree, string lights, even address Christmas cards. Who wouldn’t love to get an adorable card addressed by a 7 year old? If you can’t get past the bad handwriting, print out labels and have them stick them on. It will save you time and make them feel both useful and included.
Other ideas are using store bought cookie dough and letting them “make” the cookies by putting them on the cookie sheet, letting them vacuum or fold laundry. They can even go through their toy boxes and rid them of toys that aren’t used. This will help with de-cluttering and make space for the new toys to come.
If you aren’t married and don’t have kids, have some friends over and do a decorating or baking party. Doing some of these “chores” together, can be fun with a little holiday music and some eggnog. You'll get a lot done but it wont' feel like work!
Toss Out The Expectations With The Fruitcake
Fruitcake is something that is associated with the holiday season but we all know that it’s gross. So are expectations. Most of the stress we put on ourselves; having the perfectly decorated house, making sure the gifts are just right, getting those cards out on time, are simply expectations. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make the season perfect but we’re so busy tending to that perfection that we rarely get a chance to enjoy any of the perfection.
Take a moment to really think about your priorities. What’s the most important thing about this time of year? If it’s making sure there are no empty spaces on your tree, making sure your house is spotless for when the relatives arrive or serving a 5 star meal, then by all means, knock yourself out…literally. But if your priorities are spending time with family, enjoying some good food and making memories, then consider allowing yourself a reprieve from some expectations.
Chances are, if you can give up your expectations, you can gain some sanity in your season.
Think Outside The Box
There are certain things we all feel that we “have” to do during the holidays. We “have” to cook and bake, we “have” to send out Christmas cards, we “have” to have gifts overflowing from under the Christmas tree.
But who says we have to follow all of the rules? One year when my kids were really small, I struggled to get our cards out on time. Finally, I forgot the whole idea and ended up sending “Happy New Year” cards instead. Everyone still got a greeting and it was a treat for them to get them after the hoopla of the holidays had died down.
A friend of mine and his parents once decided to take a trip to Aruba during Christmas. They each brought one gift and spent the rest of their money on the trip where they relaxed and enjoyed each other’s company for a full week. They put the "holiday" back in "holidays" and had a vacation where people waited on them. It was pure genius. This was perfect for them. It right not work for you but the idea is to re-think what you want out of this special time.
There’s lots of ways to do the season. If we’re willing to think outside of the box, we may end up with an idea that not only reduces stress but can be a new tradition and something our family will always remember!
Don’t Forget To Enjoy Yourself
There have been years when I woke up after the late night of New Years and thought, “thank goodness this is all over.” That shouldn’t be how the holidays feel. If it’s a time of stress and exhaustion, something is wrong. If we have to over-eat and over-drink just to get through it, we might have to re-think how we’re doing it.
There are so many things about this time of year that are wonderful; the crackle of a fire, the twinkling lights, the warm cookies, the familiar faces. We have so much for which to be grateful and the holidays are a perfect time to reflect on all of that. It’s important to remember to stop and smell the poinsettias.
Don’t forget to sing a few carols, cuddle in front of the fireplace and soak in the sights, smells and sounds of the season. After all, it's pretty hard to be overwhelmed when you're relaxed and having a great time.