No matter how many lists you make, cards you send, gifts you buy, or packages you wrap, there will be things you intended to do this holiday season that won’t get completed. If you manage to do everything, but are too tired to enjoy the season, everyone suffers.
Consider these tips to minimize your stress and maximize meaning this holiday season:
1. Manipulate tradition. Going through the “we’ve always done it” rituals when they’ve lost their meaning and you’ve lost your energy doesn’t contribute to holiday cheer.
2. Start the season by making a list, but don’t stop there. Pick the most important item, second and down the list. Remember, a creative mind always has more ideas than the body can carry out.
3. Use your calendar, not only for appointments with other people, but also with yourself. If you plan to send cards, estimate how long it will take to write and address them, and write that time on your calendar.
4. Ask your family what is important. Prepared food instead of homemade means more time to share new sports equipment and relax with friends.
5. Avoid perfectionism when giving gifts. It is the intention that counts. Pick one or two gifts that can be used for multiple people. A laid-back parent or hostess is a bigger gift than anything money can buy.
6. Focus your energy. If your family isn’t as excited as you are about decorating your entire home, invest your efforts in what means the most to you.
7. If the holidays cause you grief due to death, divorce, or a distant family, be kind to yourself. Recognize that grief is healthy and that next year will be better, even if you can’t believe it today. Focus on making other people’s vacations more joyous.
8. Take a total bonding time. Let your child call a friend and take a nap. Give your siblings the car keys and a map. The idea is that everyone enjoy the occasion.
9. Be clear about expectations. If you never tell your family what you want them to do, it is unfair to expect them to know.
10. Go through your list, put aside what you can live without and enjoy the real reason for the season.