Halloween is in the rearview mirror and the Christmas music has been playing since August at Costco. There’s so much noise around the holidays, unless you have a solid plan it’s easy to get overwhelmed with choices and to feel rushed into decorating and preparing too early. Alternatively, you might feel so stressed that you opt out on holiday festivities altogether, which can be cause for later regrets.
Tune Out: If it bothers you, try to tune out and avoid places that push you into the next holiday too fast. Focus on the holiday right in front of you. Enjoy Independence Day and long summer days before letting Target tempt you with this year’s Christmas nutcracker decorations.
Finish putting one holiday to bed before untucking the next: Make sure all your Halloween decorations and costumes are neatly put away before you drag out the Thanksgiving gear. I too often see a jumble of decorations piled in the garages of clients who felt rushed to get on to the next holiday without putting away the first. What happens is that things end up broken and dusty or worse, so keep the empty containers handy and empty to make the put-away a breeze.
Get out the Journal: Take a few minutes to think about the who, what, where, how and especially the why of what you do for the holidays. Why do you decorate or bake or host a big meal? For your own enjoyment and satisfaction or because others expect you to? Often, we think others expect us to do something but they actually don’t—it’s just one of those old “should” tapes in our heads (thank you Martha Stewart). “I should own a themed cake pedestal for every holiday,” “I should light every tree on my property,” “I should kill and cook my own wild turkey for Thanksgiving.” It’s not our family talking, it’s advertisers working on our psyches.
Who do you want to be with at the holidays and what do you have to do to make that happen? Where do you like to be on each holiday? Snugly at home, out braving the snowy slopes or sipping a daiquiri on a faraway sunny beach? What do you need to do to make that happen?
How do you want to feel on each holiday—and how do you NOT want to feel? If you don’t want to feel bloated after Thanksgiving, plan now to have a meal that won’t devastate your diet and look for recipes that are delicious, nutritious and not going to bust your calorie budget just by reading them.
Work backward: Once you’ve journaled and visualized the scene, work backwards to create an action plan. Engage friends and family to take on some of the tasks and help out. If you tend to do the same things every holiday, that can be terrific—there’s nothing quite like the cheer and comfort of a wonderful tradition or a beloved family recipe. But if there are grooves that you’d like to get out of, think about it now and take a family survey if needed to see if anyone else feels the same way or balks at the thought of not doing an annual family photo or not making cranberry sauce or whatever.
When you do your journaling, you might want to start with a fresh journal that can be used by your kids and grandkids as a guide to some of the family traditions. Include your recipes, your shopping routines, your decorating timelines, your favorite holiday playlists, the contact information for the person that hangs your outdoor tree lights and anything else you think will make keeping holiday traditions easier and more enjoyable.