Tis the season to be merry and enjoy your loved ones.
Uh…yeah. More like tis the season to get super stressed out, chastise yourself for not doing all the things you think you should be doing, fight with your spouse and max out your credit cards.
Here are a few tips from me to you to minimize stress during the holiday season:
Realize there’s no such thing as a stress-free Christmas
First rule of fight club is to understand Christmas and stress go with the territory. If you accept up front that stress is going to make an appearance then you’re better prepped to receive it.
Don’t let social media dictate your holidays
Pinterest and Facebook don’t govern what Christmas should be for your family. Your newsfeed might lure you into to thinking you need to make an entire gingerbread village or six zillion batches of “super easy” DIY sugar scrub but…just no. I love Facebook and Pinterest as much as the next girl but don’t let social media decide what your holiday should look like.
If someone asks “what can I do” or “what can I bring” the answer is never “nothing.” There is always something. Can someone do your table arrangements? Bake pies? Buy pies from the bakery? Send their teen to help you get decorations out of your attic or watch your small humans while you bake, decorate, or just sit in a chair with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and zone?
Say it with me: “Yes, please.” Accept help when it’s offered or ask for it when it’s not.
Simplify gift giving
Pare down your list. Are you giving gifts because you feel obligated or because “everyone else is?” Do you really have to get something for all of your kids’ teachers or every one of their friends? Are you expected to buy a present for every one of your nieces and nephews?
Family traditions dictate some of your gift buying but there’s nothing wrong with shaking things up a little bit, evaluating what you’re doing and making changes. YOU control YOUR budget and YOUR time.
We buy very conservatively for our kids and we don’t give many gifts outside of our immediate family. We give a lot of gift cards or use Amazon delivery…no lines, crowds or gifts to wrap. I’m a terrible wrapper by the way. If I do have to wrap something, I’m team gift bag all the way.
You don’t need to do all the things
Santa at the mall? At school? Your church? Your mom’s church? Your friend’s church? At your community center? Your gym?
The point I’m trying to make is that there are a lot of parties this time of year…and lots of Santas. Many RSVPs, entries on the calendar to keep track of and oh-so-many photo ops. Make a plan for which events you’re going to hit and stick to it. You’re not shortchanging your family if you don’t take them to dozens of holiday events. You won’t enjoy your family time if you’re frazzled and bitchy because your schedule is jam-cram packed.
Ditch the notion of the “perfect” family picture
I have two five-year-olds. Getting them to both look at the camera while not fighting or picking their noses is impossible. Well, it probably is possible but I have no patience for that.
Instead trying to get my family to pose for pictures, try to get a lot of candid and fun shots that capture the spirit of how our family celebrates the season.
Don’t neglect yourself
Motherhood means consistently putting yourself last. I know, I do it, too. But, try this – look at yourself in the mirror and say “I’m the most important person.” It’s true! All of the holiday stuff (and probably all of the everyday stuff, too) would fall apart without your touch, so why not do something nice for yourself? Such as:
– Get a manicure or pedicure
– Go shopping. Buy a pretty “go-to” holiday outfit or buy some new lingerie just because. Treat yourself.
– Go to the gym. It will alleviate stress and will make you feel better about those seven cookies you scarfed down.
Do at least one of these things, and don’t say you can’t because you can if you make self-care a priority.
Plan for mess and clutter…
…and there will be mess and clutter. You’ve got extra stuff in your house this time of year. You’ve got presents to wrap and all the clutter that goes along with that. You’ve got extra ingredients for holiday meals and then you’ve got everyday bric-a-brac you’ve had to put aside to make room for holiday bric-a-brac.
Maybe your solution is a staging area for gifts and wrapping materials. Maybe you designate a portion of your kitchen counter for cookie stuff. Maybe you shove everything into one room and try not to think about it.
Mess and clutter send my OCD brain into overdrive and it helps me a lot when I get ahead of it a little bit instead of letting it sneak up on me.
Cooking, baking and crafts
What do you HAVE to do? What do you LIKE to do? If you get sincere enjoyment out of spending hours in the kitchen, then do it. You may have to sacrifice some sleep or shave something else off your to-do list but we tend to happily make time for what we love, right?
If you don’t love it, consider saying no. Buy ready-made goodies and look into made-ahead holiday dinners – there are tons out there. Let go of the “it must be made from scratch” guilt and redefine “have to.” Remember, you are the most important person.
I’m a big believer in holiday shortcuts. I mix a cup of sausage crumbles and diced onion into my box of stuffing mix that I prepare in the microwave. I smile, nod and feign modesty when people compliment my efforts in the kitchen. I’ve been known to buy Christmas bakery cupcakes, take a knife to the icing, making them look “imperfectly mine.” No one will ever notices…if they do? I totally deny it. And if they don't believe it? I really don't care.
Here’s wishing you an (almost) stress-free Christmas!
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And, if after reading this, you still want to look at all the things on Pinterest, you can check out some of my favorite ideas here:
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