If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed during the holidays, you might want to consder these simple but effective ways to give yourself a break and relax a bit more this year. Even if you only try one thing on this list, you will create a more peaceful and joyous holiday for yourself and for your loved ones.
Holiday Decor – Do not feel obliged to hang every decoration every year. Take time off from your treasures, maybe this year go minimalist and see how it feels. It can be a huge relief!
- Store your treasures in special plastic tubs with seasonal colors. This makes finding all of your items easy even when they get lost behind the camping gear on the top shelf.
- Purge the old, dusty and musty decor – Take time to purge your old decorations and keep only the items that you enjoy seeing every year. Downsize and make decorating easier in the years ahead.
Create a Gift Closet – Designate one place to store gifts, paper and cards through the year. Stock up as you see gifts on sale throughout the year. A running list posted on inside of the door makes it easy to keep track of what you have on hand and also to grab a quick hostess gift on your way out to a party.
Time – Just say no. You do not have to attend every party and gathering that you are invited to. If the day arrives and you would rather sit at home and decompress, call and excuse yourself from the gathering.
Gift Giving – Start your holiday thinking before you start your holiday buying. Make a list of everyone you will buy for this year. Leave a space next to their name and as you purchase, check their name off. Also, if they mention what they want through the year, you can make a note beside their name. Keep this list in your wallet and when you are out and about, you might find that perfect gift before the holidays arrive!
- Gift Cards – Consider gift cards this year. These wonderful little ditties save you time, stress and wrapping paper. The real plus it that your recipient has the opportunity to get what they really want!
- Plan a Gift Exchange – Secret Santa gift exchanges provide the perfect opportunity for family members to get the big gift they really want and would never buy for themselves. Draw papers from a bag with each persons name and their big gift request. This saves time and the stress of finding the perfect gift while ensuring that everyone gets what they really want. Make a pact to buy only one gift with no surprise small gifts allowed or this exercise could turn into a real gift extravaganza.
- Give Magazine Subscriptions-Support your friends hobbies with this thoughtful gift. They will think of you every month as they read your gift.
- Shop Online – Be an armchair shopper and save time and money on sites like eBay. For the best deals, log on very early or late in the day to hit auctions as they close.
Parties – If cooking for the masses is not your forte, go easy on yourself and host a 'bring a dish' party. Friends and family rarely reent bringing one dish to a party and your job will become considerally easier. Provide the main course and you are done.
- Gather Your Family Off-Site – Have your family gathering at a nice restaurant with desert and coffee afterwards at your place.
- Rent Divorce for Your Fancy Dinner – There is no better feeling than placing all of the dirty dishes in a rack and sending them away to be cleaned and disposed of. The price is nominal when you wake up to a clean house in the morning.
- Hire a Caterrer – or buy premade feasts at your local grocery. Add a few special ingredients to each pre-made dish and it will taste home.
- Plan an Open House – friends and family can drop in through the day and the expectations are lower. Guests do not expect a gourmet meal and the mood will stay light and festively casual. No expectations except to catch up with your favorite people.
- Host a Holiday Craft Party – Give Homemade Gifts This Year. Schedule the entire day for friends and family to stop by and make gifts. Set up work stations for each craft and ask that people bring ingredients for the designated crafts. Great ideas include; Mix in a jar recipes like soups, cakes and cookie mixes. Other ideas are wreaths, small decorated trees, pillow cases, gift tags. Use your imagination and have fun!
Create Ritual – Formulate a plan that resonates with your hearts desire: This can mean spending a specified evening by yourself for pampering or getting everyone you love together at the same time every year, even if it is on a conference call. Create an annual habit that makes you feel like this time of the year is special and sacred, whatever this means to you.
Spend the Holidays Solo – You are not obliged to go home for the holidays. If you really need to take a time out – do it, take a trip or curl up with your favorite book or watch a movie by yourself. Its all good if it is what you need. Jump on a plane and go somewhere where others do not celebrate the holidays and decompress. You can create a your own personal holiday interlude and start the New Year revitalized, relaxed and sometimes even smug.
Nourish Yourself – Take time to be alone and contemplate your blessings in life. Spend the day in nature and enjoy the sunshine. This day can be the fuel to keep you going during the busiest part of the holidays.
Hire a Cleaning Service – Treat yourself to a clean house without the hassle. Set up an appointment in November for your home to get cleaned the week of Christmas or Hanukkah and remove that task from your list so you can focus on other more important details. If you do not have the luxury of a regularly scheduled cleaning service, make it your gift to yourself.
Dress to Celebrate – Take the time to create an outfit that makes you feel festive. GO through your closet and decide what you will wear in advance. Add a new piece to your existing holiday attire or splurge this year and get the perfect black dress that you can wear all year. Dress it up with a pair of sparkly party shoes. A cashmere sport coat can take any man from day to fancy evening events looking fabulous even while wearing blue jeans!
Bake With Friends and Swap Cookies – Set a date to have your girlfriends over to bake all day. Have everyone bring ingredients and baking dishes for their favorite cookies and desserts. This is a great way to spend quality time with your friends and get your pantry loaded for the holidays. If spending a day together will not work this year, have everyone make triple recipes and schedule a swap during a morning or afternoon coffee break.
Keep Your Figure – Do not let the holidays negate the weight loss you have achieved this year. Cut yourself some slack, strive for weight maintenance, not loss during the festive season. Use the secrets below to maintain your weight:
- Drink a large glass of water and a protein bar before you attend a party. This way you will arrive satiated and less likely to eat everything on the buffet.
- Offer to bring a vegetable platter to the party. Stock it with goodies that you love to snack on. Splurge and make a fabulous nonfat dip so it tastes as good as possible. Remember that alcohol is very high on calories. Offer to be the designated driver to your company party. You will probably fair better in the long run with less embarrassing reasons to relive with your office mates.
- Shop on a full stomach to avoid the lure of the food court at the mall. Take snack bars with you in case you have to shop longer than expected.
Volunteer – Show up at the pedestrian ward of a local hospital to deliver small presents.
- Call your local senior center to see if there are people who will be alone during the holidays. Ask if you can visit and bring a picnic lunch, cookies or light snack to share.
- Contact Habitat for Humanity (habitat.org) and help build a home. Many trips are organized abroad during the holidays and may provide a good reason why you are not able to go home and visit the relatives.
Find Ways to De-emphasize Commercialism – Prepare your kids for the upcoming gifts or lack. Make a pact with your friends to not exchange gifts this year. Instead exchange cards that represent a service like babysitting, a home-cooked catered meal, popcorn and movie rental delivery etc. Spend time collecting blankets and food for the needy and help the less fortunate by sharing your time, energy and love.