After the solemnity of Remembrance Day, it's time to turn our minds (and our organizing skills!) to the holidays. There is always excitement and anticipation in this time of year, whether you are marking Chanukah, Kwanza, Christmas or you simply plan to enjoy the season. Along with all the festive store fronts and decorations galore, there are also plenty of reasons to dread the season: expectations, anxiety and being pressed for time. Have you started to feel the pressures of the season? If so, then hopefully these tips for a more relaxed holiday will be of benefit to you.
Focus on what matters - to you: The pressure to be "perfect" at the holidays may seem overwhelming so take a moment to consider what really matters to you. Bigger and more expensive isn't always better. What are the traditions that really matter to you and which ones might you be able to modify or skip in an effort to enjoy more and stress less? Instead of writing fifty cards, for example, pick the ten that matter most and enjoy writing each one with a personal message.
Cut yourself some slack: Hang onto little rituals during the day that bring you pleasure or put you into a more relaxed frame of mind. Do you relish the 30 minutes of reading you do before bed? How about sipping a second cup of tea that you don't really need, but want? Perhaps most importantly, protect your gym or yoga time to help you stay healthy and strong. Keep the little things knowing that they will help you to be your best as you tackle what the season brings.
Ask for help: Between free gift wrapping, delivery services and gourmet ready-to-eat meals, there are many options available that are both time-saving and inexpensive. Take advantage of them! Enlist the help of friends and family members to pick up a few extra items while they're shopping - why do you all have to hit the same stores? Turn a family meal into a potluck event or turn a formal dinner party into an open house or dessert exchange...anything helps.
Make a plan: Shopping lists, a map of the mall and a gift list are all easy-to-use ways of staying relaxed. Sure, getting organized might get your heart rate up at first as you realize the work ahead of you, but once you have a plan you'll be able to prepare for the holidays with confidence. No last minute rushing around for the forgotten gift or the missing ingredient.
Have fun & take breaks: Keep the fun in the season by making a mindful effort to recognize and appreciate the moments that make the season memorable. Take a few deep breaths and give yourself permission to unplug for a while. Taking a few extra minutes to relax will refresh you and allow you to see even the most traditional holiday rituals in a new and inspired light.
I'd love to hear from you with tips, success stories or questions about meal planning. Feel free to use the Comments section to connect with me and the Smart.Organized.Simple community.