There are so many opportunities to do festive and extravagant things during the holiday season: shows, concerts, sporting events, parties, fairs, and on and on.
How can you add all of that on top of the planning, shopping, wrapping, and merry-making that is already piled on top of your overly-busy everyday life with kids?
Newsflash: you can’t.
The year I lost a whole week with jury duty in early December was the year I started saying no.
#1) Just say no.
There are still only 24 hours in any given day.
It’s not like you can put the rest of your life on hold while you attend the shows, concerts, sporting events, parties, fairs, and so on.
Turn FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) into JOMO (Joy of Missing Out). Nothing bad will happen if you don’t go to every party you’re invited to, don’t participate in the cookie swap this year, and skip the Nutcracker performance this year.
Need some help with how to R.S.V.P.? Very simple: “We have a conflict and are unable to attend. Thank you for the invitation!” (Never mind if the conflict is you’d rather sit at home in your jammies drinking hot cocoa while watching The Polar Express.)
#2) Stop trying to be perfect.
The jury duty year it was already the second week in December and I hadn't yet put any ornaments on the tree. I had hoped to get together with friends to make gingerbread houses as we had done in past years, but our schedules didn't mesh. I didn't have any Christmas pictures for our greeting cards. I decided not to write a Christmas letter – I’m not sure anyone reads them anyway. Ultimately, I decided to send New Year’s greetings instead of Christmas cards. That bought be time and I could include a calendar design and be sure I sent cards to everyone who had sent me one.
Oh, well. The earth obviously kept turning, and I can still enjoy the holidays and appreciate the tabletop tree in my office that does have a few ornaments on it (since I put it away like that last year). Keep it simple!
#3) Don't overspend: be grateful for what you already have
No one in my family believes in the Santa Claus that travels the world in one day in a sleigh pulled through the sky with flying reindeer, landing on people's roofs to deliver gifts, never mind keeps track of a naughty or nice list. I can't believe how anyone over six even believes in this fairy tale, now that I type that. Of course, we all still enjoy the magic and anticipation of Christmas but I don't have to keep up the Santa charade.
So I remind everyone about how fortunate they already are and how they have all their needs/wants met throughout the year. They drive cars, they take vacations, they play sports So many of their Christmas gifts will be related to these things, e.g., car accessories and sports equipment. One boy needs a laptop because he’ll be going to college next year. In the past, I have made them year-in-review photo albums titled, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
That's it -- just three suggestions, instead of five, seven, or a "top 10 list," because I want to keep it simple!
A version of this post appears on the author’s blog.