Every year we imagine that the holidays will be a swirl of joyful parties, decorations, surprising loved ones with the perfect gift, cooking flawless meals, indulging in family vacations, and generally spending blissful time against a magical winter backdrop. We long for the magic and excitement of our youth and imagination, while dreading the worry, spending, stress, and chaos of our experience. Amid all of this, you’re going to need some coping strategies to take control of your holiday season.
Schedule Time For Relaxation. If you’re the type who relentlessly plows through a to-do list, make sure you schedule some time for your own self care. Put it near the top of your list so you’ll really do it. If you like to read for half an hour before bed, or have worked hard this year to start a habit of daily exercise, don’t give it up in favor of yet another holiday chore. Our everyday practices help calm and center us, which will help you achieve peace throughout the chaos of the holidays.
Enforce Boundaries. When holiday tension becomes too much, remember you don’t have to do it all or see everyone. If you’re not excited about a social event, cut these extraneous obligations loose. If your kids are complaining, if some activity feels too overbearing, or if an experience doesn’t fit in your budget this year, drop the ritual in favor of something simple and universally appealing. If you can’t say “no” outright, keep your gatherings small and intimate so they feel less overwhelming.
Create a Holiday Budget. Make a list of all the gifts and items you need to buy and assign how much you plan to spend. Consider doing Secret Santas within your larger or extended family so you can buy for one or two people instead of ten. Or consider putting price limits on gift exchanges to keep you from going over budget. A thoughtful gift goes a long way, and feeling financially responsible creates less stress and guilt.
Be Satisfied With “Good Enough”. Trying to make everything perfect is undoubtedly going to make you more stressed and pressured throughout your daily life. Let’s face it, perfection isn’t possible. Instead of feeling obligated to make something homemade for your family dinner, order it from a local deli or food catalog. Instead of buying all new decorations to fit a new trendy theme, mix and match old ones to create something unique. This will save you time and money, and ease your stress.
Overall, remember to have fun and focus on creating moments with the ones you love most, whatever that may look like for you. It’s often the simplest memories and fun-but-imperfect moments together that we recall with joy. For more help organizing your thoughts, budgeting, and tracking important information, check out these useful tools: