As much as I love this glorious season (and I do), every year it ends with me trying to come up with ways to make the holidays less stressful. Between the decorating and the shopping and the parties and the family time, we all have a tendency to get a little run down this time of year. But why do we do it to ourselves? Here are some ways to make the holidays less stressful that I’ve come up with, so we can all get back to enjoying the most wonderful time of the year.
1. Preparation is Key
Let’s face it: regardless of which holiday you celebrate, there’s a whole lot to do in the weeks that lead up. You can’t just stick decorations up around your house without cleaning it first. You can’t assume a photographer will just be available for last minute holiday cards. There are a million things that you need to get done, and starting out with the prep work will save you a lot of time and stress as the holidays loom closer. Preparation is the key of all the ways to make the holidays less stressful, so don’t slack on your prep work, people!
2. Procrastination is Catastrophic
Procrastination is a HUGE fault of mine, and it gets in the way during every holiday season. But really, who can actually get all that shopping done on Christmas Eve? Trust me here, I’ve tried it, and it is near to impossible, and very expensive. The longer you wait, the more pressure you end up under, so why not get done whatever you need to do in advance, before crunch time takes the joy out of this joyous season? Deck them halls, and deck ‘em early, y’all!
3. Lists Are Your Friend
I love lists. They just lay everything you need to do out so nicely, and it’s extremely satisfying to check things off, one at a time. At Christmastime, I make gift lists, to do lists, recipe lists… you get the picture. If you want to cut a little stress out, write down what needs to be done. It may look daunting at first, but you won’t forget anything, and you’ll be glad you did it after crossing off that last item, I promise.
4. Try for Fun, Not Perfection
This one is really important, people. No one cares if your tree ornaments are perfectly in balance with each other. It doesn’t matter if your presents are wrapped to perfection, or if your house is a masterpiece of twinkle lights. The holiday season is a time to spend having fun and making memories. So instead of decorating to perfection all by your lonesome, pour some eggnog and make it a party! The house may not end up looking perfect, but your memories will be perfectly happy.
5. Don’t over-do It on Gifts
The holiday season is not about presents. Even if you’re not a religious person, you should know, in your heart, that Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and all of the other winter holidays, are about more than what you will be given, wrapped in pretty paper and bows. So don’t break your bank trying to buy impressive, expensive gifts. A little thought goes a long way, and a gift that warms the heart is far better than anything else. "Maybe Christmas, he thought... doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps... means a little bit more." See? Even the Grinch knew that.
6. Learn to Say No
Holidays are about spending time with your loved ones; because of this, all of your loved ones will want to see you. But if you’re like me, with multiple families, seeing all of the important people in your life is near to impossible (or at least very tiring). So instead of trying to please everyone, learn to say no. Sit them all down, and explain that you can switch off holidays, and change it year to year, but that travelling to three to four houses in one day is not going to happen. You deserve to enjoy your holiday, too!
7. Remember What the Season is All about
Between the to do lists and the cleaning and the wrapping and the parties, it’s easy to get caught up, and stressed out, in it all. But I challenge you to take back your holiday joy. Spend a little time this season with those you hold dear, or even with a good book and a warm fire, remembering what the holidays mean to you. Relax, and enjoy your surroundings. You only get so many holidays to savor, so don’t forget to celebrate.
The holiday season is my favorite time of year, and I’m determined to remember to enjoy it this year. And as for all of you, "May your days be merry, and bright… and may all your Christmases (and Hanukkahs, and Kwanzaas) be white!" How will you be celebrating this year?