The holidays are a harried time of year and we tend to let ourselves get overwhelmed with holiday shopping, office functions and dashing around town getting together with people we don’t generally see during the year. I asked the ladies at Best Kept Self what they would suggest this holiday season to keep things cheery, merry and bright during the holidays. Here are their holiday etiquette tips:
I love soulful giving and receiving but for me, gift giving was the most stressful part of the holiday season. It felt hurried, stressed and rarely from the heart. This year my boyfriend and I decided that we would put money aside to go on a trip together and create memories rather than collecting things. For the people closest to me, this is my preferred holiday strategy and we set time aside to spend together and do something out of the ordinary. I also recommend JustGive.org, which allows you to personalize a charitable donation in someone else’s name to suit their interests and charitable inclinations.
While the holidays are about giving, it’s also the most important time of year to give yourself some extra love and pampering. A few things that I do to help ease the stress include keeping a special notes area on my phone of gift ideas for friends and family as I stumble across them throughout the year. That way, when the time to give is here, I’ve already got a list going of possible ideas. The second thing is to set very clear boundaries for work projects and people around me. Time is already crunched but even more so during this time of year, so being okay with saying “no” to taking on new things or setting meetings is key. Third, when things get super harried, the first thing I do each morning is the practice of “Morning Pages”. This exercise of stream of consciousness writing is incredible for de-stressing, prioritizing, clarifying, and starting your day right. I highly recommend it!
It is important to stay your Best Kept Self during the hectic holiday season. You are cramming a million extra things on your plate and it can go south very quickly. This year, let’s try focusing a little more on staying sane. If it going to cause you stress, try to figure out a new way to do it. If you need to delegate tasks to others or order dinner for a family get together instead of cooking, just do it! You will be more present during the time that counts. Maybe you feel obligated to volunteer your time to certain events or programs each year…try taking one off your plate. Don’t feel guilty about it, the world will not end and you will have time to make your life a little easier in other areas. Focus your efforts on creating a stress free holiday plan. Form a list of things YOU and your family care about and if something you typically do doesn’t make the list, it’s okay.
I have a few techniques that I use for holding it all together for Christmas. As much as I love traditions, I do not let traditions drive my family’s behavior. We do what feels right and what works for that year. Sometimes that means we go see Christmas lights three times in one year and sometimes not at all, we just go with the flow, so we can find the right balance every year. One rule I do have is all presents are to be opened on Christmas day. Now that we have kids it is really nice that everyone wants to see them and many people want to buy them gifts, but it starts to get excessive when every person they see or place we go for two weeks they get gifts. Reserving gift opening for Christmas Day means we can celebrate the day, and explain it as a very special occasion that only happens once a year. We also do not get our kids a lot of gifts; in fact sometimes we don’t get them any. They have so many gifts from their Grandparents, that it can all be too much. I am sure that will change as our children get older but for now we can get away with it. Next year we might have a new tradition!
Many years ago when the holidays came around, I would feel a rush of excitement. I’d take a few minutes to write up a gift giving list and found so much joy in buying presents, wrapping them in cute little packages and writing out thoughtful notes. Fast forward a few years later, and somehow, something changed. This past year my husband and I made a deal with one another to be more in-the-moment and to really be present as much as we can, in all that we do. For me, this means no more multi-tasking and truly stopping to smell the roses. I take time to relax more, and more importantly, I do not feel guilty about that. I’ve started to live by some basic holiday rules, to keep me sane and mostly to remind me what the season is really all about. First, think, don’t react. If invited to multiple parties, really think about what you are capable of doing and how much energy you have the time for. Second, plan. Give yourself time to breathe and actually pencil in time for yourself to take care of you. Do something that makes you feel those holiday butterflies…ice skating with family, baking and decorating cookies. Next, remember the 2 F’s! Every single gift should be fun and fulfilling to give.