Oh geez, where has this year gone?
Today is November 1st and we will quickly be in the thick of holiday commitments: decorating, sending holiday cards, shopping, gift wrapping, parties . . . the list goes on and on.
What can you do to help maintain your sanity? Prioritize and Plan.
Prioritizing your efforts throughout the holiday season will reduce stress. Here are some great places to start.
Be realistic about holiday expectations. Try not to hold yourself to Norman Rockwell and Martha Stewart standards (don’t even get me started on Pinterest). As much as I love images for inspiration, it is almost impossible to have our homes and meals live up to the standards presented by professional stylists and photographers.
Edit your schedule. Do you really need to accept every invitation that comes your way? No. Some events may be non-negotiable, there may be others you can edit out. For example, do you really need to attend the Book Club mixer on Thursday, when you already are committed to the company party on Friday and your child’s holiday recital on Saturday? Probably not.
Abandon what’s not important. For many, the holidays are all about tradition. Well, sometimes our traditions just don’t make sense for the way we currently live our lives. Does taking the day to press cider and cut down a tree in the forest still bring you joy? If so, go for it. If not, let it go. Are the time, energy, and money spent on gathering items for Santa stockings important to you and your 17, 21, and 24-year old children? If so, do it. If not, let it go.
Analyze gift-giving. Is it still important to get a gift for Aunt Betty? Do we still need to make hand-made treats for all ten of the neighbors? Just because we’ve always given a gift doesn’t mean we still need to. If you want to give lots of individual gifts and you have the time and financial resources to do so, go for it. If not, is there an alternative to giving gifts? Coffee date? Post-holiday gathering? Scheduling a walk in a park? How else could you honor the person without the stress and expense of gift-giving?
Planning and scheduling our efforts can make all the difference in reducing stress. And by planning and scheduling, I mean actually looking at deadlines, working backward and placing task on your calendar to ensure things get done by when they need to get done. For example:
Holiday cards: If you mail holiday cards, decide on the day you want those cards in the mail. Work backward from that date ensuring that you schedule whatever needs to be done to accomplish that goal. Personally, I like to mail holiday cards the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and we traditionally put a family photo on our cards. That means I need to schedule a photo shoot for the first or second week of November to ensure I can get the photo, order the cards, address the cards and get them in the mail the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. (I’m stressed already.)
Decorating: If we use Christmas as our example, most people I know like to decorate after Thanksgiving, have the decorations up for at least two to three weeks before Christmas and decorating generally needs to be done over a weekend. So, decide when you want to have your home decorated by and work backward depending on how long it takes and when you have time to do it.
Purchasing gifts: Although purchasing gifts has become easier-and-easier over the years if you are comfortable with purchasing on-line, that still doesn’t mean it happens without planning. Settle on your gift-giving strategy early (people, budget, etc.). Starting early (before Thanksgiving) will ensure that those hard-to-get, popular items may still be available and you will do less last-minute (impulsive, expensive) shopping.
Prioritizing and planning your holiday strategy will be the best gift you could give yourself. Enjoy!
Cindy Jobs, COC, ACC
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Level I Certificates earned in Chronic Disorganization; ADD; Client Administration; Time Management; Mental Health; and Hoarding.
Level II Specialist Certificates earned in Chronic Disorganization and ADD