Tis’ the season to be jolly, right? At least that is what the song says. Don’t get me wrong, I love the holiday season. I usually start counting down the days ‘til Christmas in September. I love the decorating. I love the shopping. I love the traditions and spending time with family and friends. I want to do all the special things with my kids while they are still young and want to do them with me. I strive to make each year magical and create memories that my family will cherish forever.
When I imagine the holidays, I imagine myself looking and feeling fabulous from head to mistletoe. My home is filled with the aroma of the cookies that are baking in my perfectly clean kitchen. Every room in the house is decorated like something out of a Pottery Barn catalog. And, “Elf” has just returned for the season with the best North Pole breakfast ever.
My ideal calendar is filled with Christmas train rides, caroling with friends, ice skating under the twinkle lights, and anything else that would make this season unforgettable. Yep, this is what I imagine and anticipate when we are still early into November, but that all changes right about Thanksgiving when reality starts to set in.
Each year this is what actually happens: I get stressed out. I get tired. My house ends up only three quarters of the way decorated and is so cluttered that it all just drives me crazy. Let’s face it, every year I am a mess. I fill up the calendars, but I do so to the point where it turns my family and me into walking zombies. I have become obsessed and worried about trying to make the holidays so perfect and memorable that I end up missing so much of the season. I know I am not the only one who feels this way. The holidays can be stressful, but I am starting to think that I am bringing much of it on myself. I want to some how get through the season without turning into the Grinch.
This year I have decided that I am going to do things different. I am going to try a new approach to the holiday season. I am hoping that a little extra planning and organizing will help my whole family have a merry little Christmas. I am modifying my strategy, and here are four changes I am going to try to help cut down on the chaos and stress.
- Planning ahead: This year I will be making my holiday to-do list well before Thanksgiving. I am actually going to start planning and shopping early in November. When I see something on sale, I will purchase it and store it. I figure, if it goes on sale later on, I can always take it back and exchange it at the lower price. If not, it feels good knowing things are already bought and waiting to be wrapped. I also plan on booking all our activities way in advance. This includes outings like; visits with Santa, a Disneyland trip, seeing holiday lights in the park, and a Polar Express Train Ride. I have found that I can get much better deals and lock a lower price when I book things in advance. I even realized that if I get our Christmas cards ordered before Thanksgiving, I get a much better price with free shipping included!
- Making a schedule: I am writing a list of everything I need to do, and then putting it into my calendar. And I mean everything! I am scheduling all my baking, Christmas card writing, school events, etc. When I see all the things I need to do on paper it’s less overwhelming than trying to remember it all in my head.
- Being realistic: I love having traditions, but I am finding that picking one or two is much more manageable and special than having too many. Both the pre-planning and schedule making have helped me see when too much is too much. This will help me see and decide what is really special to us. When we do too much, nothing is as special or memorable since it gets lost in the chaos.
- Saving time for myself: This is the one I will probably forget to do even though it is so important. The season is too long to be on the go without taking care of myself. If I don’t take time to relax, I will end up becoming run down and inevitably sick. This year I vow to not feel guilty when I decide to take that extra long bubble bath or schedule that day at the salon, because after all, a happy holiday is a healthy holiday.
Well that’s it. I plan on leveraging these four simple ideas this year to hopefully keep me happy and sane throughout the holidays. Wish me luck! I will let you know in the new year if they actually worked or not. Do you do anything special to help alleviate the holiday stress? I would love to hear from you!