For all practical purposes the time of year that is commonly referred to as “the holidays”, lasts from Halloween to New Year’s Day, and when you consider all of the decorations that are probably dotting the shelves of your neighborhood store right now, the “holiday season” can be quite lengthy.
If this time of year is a major source of stress for you because you’ve created a vision of the “perfect” holiday, maybe it’s time to let that vision go and opt for a new one.
Start with the basics; taking care of yourself, your family and your home. Then, once you’ve got your house in order, you can make time for baking those cookies, volunteering to help make costumes for the kids’ Christmas play and serving hot soup and sandwiches at the local shelter.
Use the following strategies to get yourself and your home prepared to sail through the holiday season filled with love and joy. And don’t forget to be easy on yourself…this time of year doesn’t need to be “perfect”…it simply needs to be enjoyed.
1. Create a Holiday To-Do List
Do a “brain dump” of all those ideas and “have to dos” for yourself and your home.
Once they’re out on paper you can weed through your list and only focus on those things that really need to be done. For example, creating a holiday menu and shopping list.
Look for things that you can delegate to others and do just that…there’s no reason you have to do it all. Giving others a chance to help is not only good for your mental health, but it’s also good for the person you’ve challenged with helping.
2. Use your calendar
Whether it’s a smartphone app, a file on your computer or good old pen and paper, use your calendar to stay on top of your to-do list.
Assign deadlines for every task that needs to be done.
For example, if you send out holiday cards you can schedule a time to write a personalized note in each of them and to mail them so they’ll be received in good time by each recipient.
3. Do a quick inventory
Go through your pantry to see what you’ve already got that can be used for your holiday meals and make a list of what you’ll need to purchase.
Next, go through your holiday decorations and do a quick inventory of what you already have on hand. If you notice something is in poor condition you can choose to replace it or forgo it to simplify your decorating.
If you’re the kind of shopper who buys gifts year round, it can be easy to forget not only the fact that you’ve already purchased something but where you put it!
Create an inventory of what you’ve already purchased and where you’ve hidden it so when it comes time to place it under the tree you won’t be scrambling to remember where everything is at.
If you’re a last minute shopper, make a list of who you want to buy for, set a budget for each purchase and stick to the list.
Don’t let yourself get swayed by the glittery displays that greet you everywhere…just get in, make your purchases, then get out of the store.
Your budget will thank you!
4. Sort through toys
Whether you enlist your kids’ help for this, or do it while they’re at school, go through all of their toys and get rid of those things they no longer play with or no longer want.
If they’re still in good condition, drop them off at a local thrift store or charity shop so they can bring joy to others.
5. De-clutter the rest of your home
Set aside as little as 15 minutes a day working room by room to go through all of your things.
By getting rid of those things you no longer need or use you’ll make post holiday cleaning and organizing easier because you’ll have cleared up space for new things.
Finally, to keep your expectations in check and to dial down the stress you place on yourself about the holiday season, focus on why we celebrate and you’ll find yourself enjoying this time of year again…just like you did as a kid.