Our heart is to make the holidays meaningful and magical. Yet, with our lists being long and our time being short, pressure looms like the Grinch around every corner. Here are some stress busters that have helped me keep the joy, and be a joy, during the busy holiday season.
1. Creating nostalgic traditions at the holidays is important. Try to Scale Down and be Satisfied with Good Enough. We all set expectations on ourselves that could use some serious reevaluating and downsizing. We can get carried away from lighting one tree to lighting the porch, yard, deck, windows, and the 2nd and 3rd trees. It’s beautiful, but, takes so much time! If I loved stringing lights, I’d cut corners elsewhere, but, this year I’m being selective and decorating just one tree and my entryway.
2. Delegate. If my guests offer to help, I accept. I’ve found especially at parties, giving friends tasks like answering the door, serving beverages, and setting out food diminishes social discomfort and turns casual neighbors into good friends. Teen girls are fun to include as I work through holiday responsibilities like shopping, wrapping,
cleaning and making specialty dishes. I love their company and get to invest in them as well. I teach them a new skill and offer a listening ear. They leave with some spending money or a special treat from me. We both benefit!
3. Like in any other event in our lives we think ahead, so for the holidays, Plan Ahead. The biggest stressor for me is a time crunch. I look at my social calendar a week or more ahead of time and anticipate what I can do now to make life easier later. I think about needed hostess gifts, the outfit I want to complete, or the food I’m going to make. Then I tackle these to dos before I’m pressed for time later. When hosting events, I lay out my serving dishes labeled with sticky notes reminding me of what dish goes inside. As for shopping, I rely on the internet. It’s not only easier; it causes me to shop early since I must allow extra time for processing and shipping. With all this planning ahead, I’m less likely to respond like the Abominable snowman when the unexpected pops up… and it always does!
4. You do so much to make the holidays special. Have you ever thought to Stop Doing things motivated by obligation or high expectations? I love to cook, but, making everything from scratch takes a lot of time, so I balance out my choices of convenient premade foods with some of my own specialties. Depending on our values and talents we’ll have different ‘Stop Doing’ tasks. This year I’m going to stop: wrapping stocking stuffers individually, writing personalized messages on my family holiday pictures, and accepting every party invitation that comes my way. I’m already feeling free thinking about it! How about you, what’s on your Stop Doing list?
5. We all have aspects of the holidays that we consider fun and other parts drudgery. Our lists may be exactly the opposite from each other too! You can Turn the Tasks you Must Do, but Dread, into Fun. For me everything’s better with people so I invite friends to accompany me on my holiday errands. I also love to walk, so I use that time with my daughter to plan our holiday menu and determine gifts we want to get our family.
6. You’re probably generous and thoughtful when buying gifts. But, have you noticed that we can go a little over-the-top sometime? It’s time for me to Stop Buying so Much and Simplify. We can substitute presents with presence. Make experiences into gifts: organize a gingerbread house making party and let them take one home as their gift, go to a musical or play, take a tour of Christmas lights and have a special meal out. You can even let your family vacation be the present. The trick will be to resist shopping, but, you might like it! After all, enjoying friends and family is what it’s all about.
7. We are so lucky in our day to have so many pre-made foods and convenience items. This year, I’m going to Take Advantage of Time Savers. I’m going to use gift bags instead of wrap (they’re so much faster) and of course I’m using Dream Dinners for my meals.
8. You have your cherished group of friends and family members; wouldn’t it be great to keep them a priority? This Christmas, I’m choosing to Focus on People and Friendship instead of dusting my chandelier. Tasks over people are a relationship buster. Instead, I plan to close my laundry room door, forget the piles and have some peppermint tea with my neighbor.
9. During the holidays, we spend a lot of time thinking about other people and ideas for showing them our love. It’s easy to neglect our own well-being. This year, I will Take Care of Myself and Continue my Healthy Habits. I’ll keep jogging, walking, praying, getting a good night’s sleep, and avoiding over commitments of late nights and early mornings. When we’re refreshed, we’ll be refreshing to others. That’s the kind of person I want to be!
10. My last stress buster is to Watch my Attitude. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, annoyed at traffic, and over loaded by too many people. I’m going to be humorous, gracious, and delightful despite my circumstances. We don’t get to control the conflicts that arise, but, we can choose how we think and respond to them. A little humor goes a long way! Yes, this year, I’m choosing joy!
Stephanie Allen is Co-founder and President of Dream Dinners and a New York Times best-selling co-author of The Hour that Matters Most. Naturally a visionary and optimist, Stephanie hopes to inspire America through her nurturing voice of encouragement, assuring families…
“You’re doing a great job!”