Making lasting memories for you and your family around the holidays can be a tall order, never mind taking the stress out of them. Can it really be done? Yes! With each decision you make as the holidays approach, be mindful and deliberate; think about what you are doing. Do you want your family and friends to see you as harried, rushing around, stressed and overwhelmed? What message does this send when you struggle to be in the moment? What can you do to take charge?
1. Holiday-Focused To-Do List. Get organized as you approach the holidays. Do your holiday shopping and preparation and stay away from holiday schlepping by dodging the last minute rush. Determine what tasks need to be accomplished. Planning now will make the holiday season less stressful, more relaxing and fun. Some examples:
- Gifts (or deciding to send donations or other alternatives)
what to buy
writing notes & addressing
- Meal preparation
assigning dishes or other tasks that guests can prep or help with
write shopping list
- Decorating the house
- Volunteering to help those in need
2. Have a plan. After you make your list, determine when you will do each task. If necessary break each task down into small, bite-size steps and then put the steps into your calendar or planner. When you go through the holiday season approaching each task feeling in control and with joy, you will create positive lasting memories for you and others.
3. Calendar your time with others. Spending time with your kids, family or friends is an easy way to create enduring holiday memories without scrambling. Have time blocked for you and your kids, family and friends. Have specific activities that you can do together that don't cause stress. Look at your holiday to-do list and choose an age-appropriate activity that can involve your kids. Or plan that pre-holiday (or post-holiday) dinner with friends. Make sure to get these activities in your calendar.
4. Keep your expectations in check. In other words, when going out shopping, if you choose to shop in a mall or shopping center, expect to have difficulty parking, that the lines to pay will be long, that people will be rushing and not paying attention to what they're doing. Anticipate what can happen and try not to act surprised or frustrated by circumstances that you know are common to this time of year. When you have a realistic expectation, you will find it easier to deal with it.
5. Future planning. Create a "template" of activities using a spreadsheet, word doc or app, including menus and gift lists so that you use to make future holidays less stressful.
As the holidays approach, think about ways to simplify. Too often the preparation for holidays can take away from our reasons for celebrating. This year can be less hectic and more enjoyable. Whether you plan or you wing it, the best memories are those that are created when we are present and focused on those around us; allowing laughter and joy to emanate.