Many of us feel flustered when we see stores decked out in full Christmas splendor long before Thanksgiving dinner is served. But what if we looked at this not-so-subtle message as a reminder to plan and prepare for the upcoming holiday season? Here are seven ways to enjoy the merriment without feeling the holiday crunch:
- Set realistic goals. Unless you have a staff of 20 at your disposal, holding yourself to the impossible standards seen in glossy magazines is impractical. It takes dozens of people to pull together an elaborate winter wonderland. Instead, select a few simple projects and get your friends and family involved. Host a cookie recipe exchange or bake and freeze sweets with your friends. Order your cards early and tackle a few each day.
- Tame your shopping list. Jot down the names of people on your gift list, along with ideas for each of them. Take advantage of sales and free shipping offers. If a trip to the mall is not your idea of fun, shop online in your pajamas with a cup of cocoa and holiday music playing in the background. Amazon Prime is at your service and ready to help.
- Get creative. Instead of another candle or bottle of perfume, consider surprising someone with a unique experience. Tickets to a concert, sports event or Broadway show are a few good options. For a parent, friend or foodie, a memorable evening at a cooking class or wine tasting is ideal. If you are not sure what to get, offer a redeemable gift certificate of the recipient’s choice.
- Embrace practicality.
Stock up on ingredients early to ensure you have what you need when you are ready to roast the turkey and marinate the prime rib. Look for other opportunities you can handle now to make it easier on yourself later.
- Self-care is a holiday priority. An over-scheduled calendar is not an excuse to abandon exercise, rest and healthy eating. Your season will be brighter when you are feeling your best and not laden down with exhaustion and sleep deprivation.
- Evaluate your expectations. We become so fixated on annual routines that we forget the reason behind the tradition. Christmas Eve may have been the largest entertaining event of the year when your kids were younger, and everyone congregated at your home. Now, the kids are grown with families of their own and relatives have relocated. It may be time to start a fresh tradition. No less special, just updated.
- Give yourself a break. Seasonal celebrations can unintentionally result in an additional burden to already-busy schedules. The perfect holiday consists of family, close friends, celebration and good cheer. The presents will soon be forgotten, but the memories shared will last a lifetime.
For more of Diane’s holiday tips, visit Holiday Etiquette Tips for a Festive Gathering via the Huffington Post.