Making A List, Checking It Twice

List2By Susan Brown

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, many of us may find ourselves becoming exceedingly stressed with trying to have a perfect holiday.  Along with the good tidings and cheer comes the stress of planning, shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, hosting etc., etc., etc.  Setting priorities and taking a more realistic approach may just allow you more time to enjoy the true meaning of the holidays, spending not money, but time with friends and loved ones.  Perhaps it’s time to break with routine and cross perfectionism off your list.  These tips may help you to reassess and take some of the pressure off.

Simplify.  You will still need to make a list, but perhaps you can cut that list down to a reasonable size.  Concentrate on the holiday tasks that you really enjoy and eliminate others.  You don’t have to accept every invite or every request to volunteer.  Remember, it’s okay to politely decline. 

Delegate.  Santa has helpers, why shouldn’t you?  Enlist family members or hire extra help if that is within your budget.  You don’t have to do it all yourself and getting the kids involved can lead to enjoyable time spending.  Be specific with what you would like everyone to do and remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. 

Give and receive.  Instead of buying a friend or relative a gift they don’t need or may return, consider buying event tickets or a restaurant certificate and then attend together.  That sweater you bought will be long forgotten before the memory of an evening out together fades. 

A gift of time is timeless.  Think in terms of what your gift receiver will really appreciate.  Offer to take an elderly person out to lunch.  Go for lunch or manicures with your best friends.  Give an evening of babysitting so your friend or neighbor can have a night out. 

Start a new tradition.  If your children are getting older or no longer live at home and if it’s within your budget, consider taking a family trip in lieu of presents and material gifts.  It doesn’t necessarily need to happen at holiday time.  Book and travel off season to get the best deals. 

Keep moving.  Even when time crunched, you can still find time for some exercise stress reduction.  Taking a family walk after dinner to view lights and decorations is one way to enjoy the holidays, stay healthy and burn off extra calories. 

Maintain your perspective.   How much money you spend is not as important as the  thoughtfulness of the gift.  If you have a talent, use it.  Knit a scarf, frame a picture, bake something special.  These are the gifts that are appreciated and not soon forgotten. 

Focus. – Decide what is most important to you and concentrate your energy meeting those goals.  You create your own expectations.  If it’s more work than fun, it’s time to reassess.  You’re the one who gets to choose how much pressure you put on yourself.  With awareness, you can turn that down a notch or two. 

Enjoy!  Embrace the season and be grateful for the time you spend with family and friends.  And give yourself a big pat on the back for creating the Holiday you really want whether you pull out all the stops, have an intimate family gathering, or revel in a quiet holiday watching the sunset on a beach. 

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