BY JENNIFER HUBBARD
Tips for a stress-free holiday
Why is it that life’s most wonderful moments often land you somewhere between a spot on your therapist’s couch and a spot on the six o’clock news?
Your highly anticipated wedding day should have been perfection, right? And it was—if you don’t count the competing bridesmaids, the missing groomsman, and the family drama that was scripted straight out of the season finale of Grandma’s favorite soap opera.
And the everyday rearing those sweet babies and toddlers? The cherub cheeks, tickles of laughter, pitter-patter of feet in the hallway . . . you hiding in your closet with a soup spoon and a container of chocolate icing.
Ready for the therapist yet? If not, there’s always the December holidays—somewhere between refereeing competing family get-togethers, checking off gift-lists, and bringing festive side-dishes to eleven different holiday parties, you might lose the true spirit of Christmas and find yourself hyperventilating into a glittered reindeer gift-bag.
If you’ve ever found yourself with a shortage of holiday joy, you’re not alone. Many of us fail to ‘chill out’ despite the cold weather. Thankfully, there are ways to tame the seasonal stress and truly enjoy this wonderful time of year.
Avoid Some Yuletide Yelling . . . by letting someone else do the work!
And why not? Why not let someone else check-off some of your to-do list? This year, open your mind to a holiday season where your precious time is spent enjoying the moments rather than working toward completing the projects. You may spend a portion of your holiday budget delegating tasks to others, but the rewards will greatly exceed the cost—rewards such as not snapping at your nearest and dearest because you’re worked harder than a Christmas elf.
A few ideas for possible tasks to delegate:
- Take advantage of free gift wrapping—or even not-so-free gift wrapping. Many stores offer a free or small-cost giftwrapping service, or perhaps there’s a teenager or widow in your life who could benefit from a little extra cash this season.
- Hire someone to deliver and set-up your tree. Skipping the “bumpy” ride from the tree lot to your living room can save time. It can even save couples “peace on earth,” according to client reports to Beech Tree Supply. Beech Tree has years of experience of delivering and setting up Christmas trees in Central Georgia.
- DDIY – That’s short for Don’t Do It Yourself. The trend of homemade gifts is wonderful if you really have the time to enjoy it. But if it means a hot mess on your living room floor, surrounded by six grocery store bags full of homemade Christmas ornament supplies, and a hot glue gun that’s already burned you three times—then not so much.
Avoid the Christmas cringes . . . by staying on budget!
Forget the lump of coal in your stocking! The real danger of the holidays is the lump of financial stress in your gut! Is sticking to your holiday budget as impossible as it may seem? At this time, the prosecution would like to call the gifts of Christmas past to the stand. You know, the toys that were retired after the batteries ran out or the scarves your sisters never wore. What if Santa decided to only spend money on things that were truly worth the expense?
Some budget-friendly gift ideas to consider:
- Espresso can “express-o” lot of love when you take time for a friend. This year, you and your friend(s) could exchange funny stories at a coffee shop instead of exchanging gifts. Snap a photo of your outing if your gang wants a tangible memento.
- Handwritten letters make great gifts for family members. Not only are your family members likely to keep the notes longer than traditional gifts, but thinking of nice things to say about each one of them is good mental preparation for Christmas dinner.
- A few thoughtful gifts under the tree are more fulfilling in the long run than a large pile of “filler” presents. When you shop, force yourself to think past Christmas morning. Will the gift recipient still be enjoying the item come Valentine’s Day? If not, put it back on the shelf.
Avoid a Not-So-Merry Meltdown . . . simply by enjoying yourself!
Remember the year that you didn’t sit down and enjoy a cup of hot cider on the couch until January 4th? (And that was only because the cider was in the 40% off basket at the checkout line.) Our stress levels fly higher than Santa’s sleigh when we allow all the holiday “stuff” to get in the way of enjoying the season.
Simple ways to enjoy the holidays:
- Enjoy your city. Take a long breath of crisp, apple-cinnamon air as you explore holiday markets and local festivities. Georgia Family Magazine posts weekly, family-friendly events listings for the Middle Georgia area. Sign up for the email newsletter, or visit the website to find a holiday inspired adventure! Additionally, don’t miss the Spotlight on Holiday Performing Arts in this issue for whole-family pleasure.
- Enjoy giving back. Don’t be guilty of being a scrooge. Donate some of your Christmas budget to a local charity, adopt a family in need, or volunteer time at a church or shelter. (See sidebar at left for tips on how to perform due diligence before donating to a charity.) These expressions of love toward our community remove the “bah-humbug” out of our own hearts and fill us with the ever-desired joy of Christmas.
- Enjoy your family. Whether you plan a family game night or resolve in your heart to laugh at your uncle’s jokes during Christmas dinner, make the decision to express love to your family in the coming months.
Rediscover why this time of year has the potential to hold its place among your life’s most wonderful moments—without the stress. #