December is just around the corner, and for many of us, the holidays can quickly become one of the busiest, most expensive, and most draining times of the year. Between the gifts, the buying, the overspending, the never ending to-do list, the parties, the baking, and the overall busyness, it can take the fun and meaning right out of the holidays. They begin to feel like an obligation and a chore, something you “have to do”. And who wants to be seen as The Grinch in the midst of all this merry making? Instead, this should be a special time of the year spent with the people you love most. But by being intentional and simplifying the holidays, you can add a lot more enjoyment back into the season.
Prioritize your priorities. When it comes to information and opportunities during the holidays, we get more thrown at us than ever before. If we aren’t careful, we can find ourselves darting around chasing after every potential purchase, idea, or event that flies onto our radar. So this month, recognize that good is the enemy of great. Choose what matters to you and relentlessly stick to it. Delete and decline what doesn’t fit. The holidays are busy times full of parties, concerts, events, and other commitments. It can quickly become busy and overwhelming trying to attend everything. As a family, decide which holiday events and activities are important to you. Then, include those in your holiday schedule and politely decline the rest. Also, decide how many holiday activities are enough for you and your family. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, there are more parties available than any other time of year. Office parties and family events can be fun, but overwhelming. If you choose to simplify, but still want to support the host, make a mini appearance and only stay for a half hour instead of the entire evening.
Adjust your expectations. Stop aiming for Pinterest-perfect, magazine worthy parties and decorations. Fancy is fun to attend, but sometimes the time and extravagance outweigh the benefits. Don’t work yourself into exhaustion and make the holidays so stressful trying to achieve some picture-perfect vision of the holidays in your mind. A “perfect” holiday season isn’t what’s important, especially if it means you’re a burnt-out, cranky, exhausted mess and don’t enjoy a moment of the magic you’re trying so hard to create. Your friends and family won’t remember, or care, if you had five different kinds of homemade, picturesque cookies. But they will remember spending a fun night laughing, talking, and enjoying your company while eating cookies, even if they’re from a store.
Simplify Traditions. Sit down with your family and list the holiday traditions you love, then make those traditions your top priority. If there are any that you don’t love or care about as much, maybe let some of them go. It’s important to remind yourself that you get to choose how you spend your time and what holiday traditions you continue. If you’re dreading taking your kids to the busy mall, standing in line for an hour, just to have them cry when they finally see Santa, don’t do it. If you don’t enjoy having an elf on the shelf, don’t do it. If sending holiday cards is overwhelming , either don’t send cards this year or simplify it by sending a simple photo card instead of a personalized card to every person. The world will go on if you don’t continue every tradition you’ve started. You shouldn’t feel obligated to do something that no longer fits well into your lifestyle.. The one thing you and your family are going to remember is the emotional undercurrent of the season, so protect it. If something is causing stress, consider saying NO to it. Instead, embrace rituals and traditions that work for you and give you a sense of joy and peace.
Give yourself grace. There is no doubt that the holidays require a shift in schedule. With school breaks, holidays events, and family gatherings, you might stop exercising, eat more sweets, or stop making time for yourself. Don’t be hard on yourself. This season is all about love and grace, so show it to yourself as well.
For more help during the holidays, you can use the Occasions Forms Pack to track ideas and plan out events. Be sure to keep your holiday gift lists (downloads can be found here) easily accessible in your planner and jot down ideas that come to you.