Do you love Christmas but hate the stress and exhaustion that comes with it? I used believe planning ahead and shopping throughout the year was the best way to tackle the holiday season. I’ve since learned a stress-free holiday is more about dispensing with the unimportant and foregoing the need to organize it all.
You see, getting organized for the holidays is all well and good provided it doesn’t create more work and consume excess time and energy.
Have you ever shopped year round for Christmas gifts but then forgot where you’ve put them? You’re also not any further ahead if you have to rush out at the last minute to buy a gift because the one you had tucked away earlier in the year doesn’t seem appropriate.
And what about all the holiday baking you do and freeze weeks in advance so you don’t have to cram it all in during the days leading up to Christmas? Unless you really love to bake, does spreading the same load over a longer period of time make it any easier?
Sometimes when we try to organize and simplify the holidays, we miss the boat. Instead of making things easier, we are simply reshuffling the same heavy load. Instead what we need to do is eliminate the parts of the holiday that are less important.
Over the years, I’ve cut back on the decorations, the baking, and the excess activities; and have found I enjoy the holidays a lot more.
Changing the way I prepare, plan and execute the holiday season has been a gradual process. Maybe it’s because my kids are now teens that there isn’t the same stress surrounding the baking and decorating gingerbread houses, spending days baking dozens of goodies, or doing a ton of Christmas crafts. Today the things we used to do have been replaced by other more enjoyable activities e.g. watching a favorite Christmas movie or decorating the Christmas tree together.
Christmas for our family involves enjoying Christmas goodies purchased via church bake sales (I still make a batch or two of my favorites but that’s where I draw the line), giving family gifts of perishable items; and if we do opt to a craft, it’s usually just one like decorative bookmarks to go with the selection of books we are buying everyone that year.
Deciding on a theme gift for everyone on your gift list is also a great way to simplify the holidays e.g. books and gift certificates.
Shopping online via a reputable online marketplace like Amazon.com is also a fabulous way to get all your shopping done within a short amount of time. If you arm yourself with a list, chances are good you could have all your gifts bought during a single lunch hour.
If you love shopping, go for it! I’m all for shopping locally. Just do yourself a favor – don’t go without a list and avoid peak times.
The holidays have become more joyful since we’ve stopped overbooking ourselves and have cut back on the activities we don’t really enjoy doing.
Don’t try to do it all. Instead find personal ways to reduce the stress and recapture the joy of the holidays. If you make good choices about what to do and what not to do, and keep those choices to a minimum, you’ll find you can have your Christmas and enjoy it too.
FURTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER:
Remember what you once loved about the holiday season
Make the things you cherish, the most important aspects of your celebration.
Decide what you like and don’t about the holidays
Dispense with the unimportant – the things you do just because you’ve always done them e.g. like sending Christmas cards or dragging the entire family out to the Christmas tree farm.
Don’t get sidetracked by the commercialism of the season
You don’t need to be in the mall listening to the Christmas music to feel overwhelmed by the message to spend your way through the holidays and decorate to perfection. Even though the Christmas hype is everywhere like on the magazine covers staring at you wait in line at the groceries and on the car radio while you’re running your kids here and there, keep those blinders on and try not to let it sidetrack you. I know, easier said than done.
Monitor your stress level by not multi-tasking your way through the holidays
Just like you shouldn’t drive and use your cell, eating lunch while driving just because you’re trying to fit in some more Christmas shopping during your lunch hour is unwise.
Focus on quality not quantity
In other words, make it a quality Christmas that comes from the heart and focuses on what’s important, instead of a quantity of unimportant things including buying overly expensive gifts that will find you stressed, tired and in debt after the holidays.
By doing less, you’ll actually enjoy the holidays more.