The holidays can be a stressful time of year for many different reasons. Here are seven considerations that could alleviate the pressure.
1. If money is tight, set a realistic budget. If you know in your gut that you can’t afford a gift, don’t buy it! Take steps to manage expectations in advance. Let people know if you prefer not to exchange gifts with every co-worker, relative, and person you know. Now is a great time to have that “let’s not exchange gifts” conversation.
2. Don’t entertain in a way that is more work than fun. Overdoing a hosted event can turn the fun into work. Don’t be afraid to ask people to bring a side dish or dessert — or even a main course. And as for the clean-up, learn to say “yes” when your guests offer to help.
3. Don’t have inflated family expectations. Someone else will ask if you’ve put on some weight or want to know why you are still in “that job.” Take deep breaths and remember most of them mean well.
4. Don’t say “yes” to everyone. This is the season when people tend to throw more parties, arrange more events, make more demands on your time. Not every “group” in your life — carpool moms, soccer team moms, bridge club, book club, golfing buds — needs to have a special holiday party. If you see half these people on a regular basis, consider just saying “happy holidays” at your next gathering and skip the additional holiday obligations.
5. Put dates in your calendar as far in advance as possible. Beginning in October, our calendars fill up with dates right through the new year. We know that it’s difficult to get the children’s schedules early, but you can start with your calendar and go from there. Pour a cup of coffee and sit down with your calendar and edit it. That’s right — separate the “have-to” events and obligations from the “want-tos.” There are obligations that you must fulfill, but be honest about what you really have to do.
6. Don’t stay up past your bedtime if doing so leaves you a wreck the next day. If the idea of staying out until 11 p.m. on a Tuesday night when you have work the next day means you’ll be a basket case, then leave by 9:30 p.m. The older we get, the more we appreciate early week nights. Be happy to put on your dancing shoes on weekends, but be selective on week nights.
7. Don’t follow the crowds. Fighting for parking spots, waiting in long lines, feeling suffocated by the in-a-hurry masses — none of that is good. It raises your stress level, wastes your time, and in general zaps your soul. Don’t hit the mall at peak shopping hours. Shop online or patronize small local merchants, especially those who gift wrap for free!