As you start to hear Christmas Carols in TV commercials and every store turns into a red and green wonderland, do you think, “Yay! Christmas is coming!” or do you think, “Oh crap, Christmas is coming”?
I confess. I’m a scrooge. I find the holidays to be too expensive, too cold, too tacky, too carb-tastic, too full of dramatic relatives, too materialistic and entirely too much work. Christmas is upon us – like a lion on a gazelle.
Even if you love Christmas (It’s OK, I won’t judge you), this time of year can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be! Here are some tips to make sure that “Joy to the World” includes you!
12 Ways to Demand a Joyful Holiday Season
- Simplify – Can you really work all week and still host dinner for 40? Can you really visit your mom’s house and Aunt Myrna’s house, and stop by your neighbor’s for eggnog all in one day? Can you really make cookies for the 2nd grade holiday party and finish all the wrapping on your lunch break? It’s just too much! Think about what’s most important to you and jettison things that aren’t.
- Don’t Over Spend – Clutter is bad for you. Debt is bad for you. If your kids are anything like mine, the last thing they need is more stuff. We would all do well to scale it back a bit and shift our focus from the material to what’s really important.
- Don’t Over Eat – Eat what you like and enjoy every bite. Just don’t set yourself up to feel bad physically or emotionally later.
- Pay Less Attention to the Calendar – Does everything have to happen on the actual day? How about a nice family gathering on the 21st? Spreading things out may ease the pressure of the holiday itself.
- Forget Perfectionism – Not even Martha Stewart is Martha Stewart. It’s easy to get lost in all the details when you’re trying to put together the perfect holiday. Don’t beat the joy out of the day trying to make it perfect. Repeat after me, “Good enough is good enough.”
- Plan Ahead – The more you can do ahead of time, the less stress you’ll have later.
- Delegate – Can someone else take the kids while you cook? Then can someone else cook? How about the rest of the family gets the house ready for company? Ask for help!
- Keep Your Expectations Realistic – Drunk Uncle Harold is going to get drunk. Your shrew of a sister-in-law in going to be a shrew. Late-comers will show up late and people who don’t get along are still not going to get along even though it’s Christmas. They may all deserve to be smacked upside the head with a holly wreath, but if you accept the reality of the situation, at least you won’t have to suffer disappointment on top of it all.
- Say No – Traditions are wonderful! Except for the ones you hate. Think about which parts of the holiday you least enjoy. Can you stop doing them?
- Remember the Less Fortunate – Make a donation. Volunteer your time. Give toys to kids who would otherwise get none. Giving to others is a great lesson for kids and a great way to put your own troubles in perspective.
- Don’t Forget Yourself! – Amidst all the hustle and bustle, find some time to take a deep breath and nurture yourself. Take a walk, read a book, schedule a massage. Give yourself a gift.
- Remember Gratitude – On Christmas, and every other day of the year, it’s vital to focus your energy on the positive things in your life. So what parts of Christmas do you love? They way the moon makes the snow sparkle? Fires in the fireplace? Spiced wine? Little faces on Christmas morning? When you stop to think about your blessings, you can’t help but feel happier.
Whether you prefer to say “fa la la la la” or “bah humbug”, I wish you a blissfully joyful holiday season.