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As the year winds down, you might find yourself feeling all wound up about the approaching holiday season. However, developing the ability to enjoy peace during the holidays is absolutely possible. You can successfully survive Christmas this year without having to deal with an overload of stress.
First, consider continuing traditions that are meaningful to you and your family. Then, be flexible enough to start some of your own traditions. Learn to simplify your holidays. Use imagination when it comes to gift-giving to enhance the experience for everyone.
Do what’s necessary to avoid overspending. Find ways to decrease family tension among extended family members. Finally, take advantage of holiday travel tips to help you enjoy stress-less travel. Your holidays can be beautiful and fulfilling. Survive Christmas with far less stress and anxiety by utilizing these tips to keep yourself grounded and peaceful this season.
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Survive Christmas While Upholding Holiday Traditions
Reflect on your own family’s holiday traditions and all the ways your family celebrates together. Consider these examples of holiday traditions that occur every year in the same way for many families:
- Preparing ham or turkey, tons of sides and pies for a special holiday meal.
- Baking tons of cookies in various flavors and shapes.
- Opening presents early in the morning on Christmas Day.
- Watching a Christmas movie together as a family on Christmas Eve.
- Going out to see Christmas Lights.
- Leaving a tray with cookies and milk for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve before bed.
Many people, perhaps yourself included, find themselves repeating the exact same traditions they took part in as children to celebrate the holidays. You might think that carrying on your family’s holiday traditions is important to instill cherished memories for your own kids. Plus, you may look forward to and enjoy upholding and carrying out all those same activities and events each year as the holiday season rolls around. After all, it’s tradition.
As you recall your traditional ways of celebrating the holidays, consider which traditions you found to be the most special and enjoyable for you. For example, you might have had great fun as a child and even as a teen getting the tray of cookies and milk ready to leave for Santa the night before Christmas. You want your own children to take part in that activity, too. So, you make this event part of your own family’s holiday celebrations. You likely even feel nostalgia about what your holidays were like as a child. Maybe Christmas mornings were some of the best times of your life growing up and you want to try to replicate those same wonderful feelings for your own children.
Whatever the case, repeating your mom and dad’s holiday traditions in your own home is pretty common. However, don’t be surprised if you find yourself tweaking your own celebrations here and there to make them your own. That’s okay, too! The holidays are about enjoyment and a sense of specialness. But what if you find yourself wanting to “go rogue” and create your own traditions? In order to survive Christmas and maintain your own sanity, it’s often necessary to make changes!
Survive Christmas & Make New Traditions
With the holidays come so many feelings, activities, and things we must do. Maybe you find some of your parents’ traditions to be time-consuming or even a little silly. Have you considered that you can still have wonderful end-of-the-year celebrations, even if you don’t do things exactly the same way Mom and Dad did?
If it seems like each year you feel more stressed out, overbooked with festivities, and overloaded with tasks, you might be ready to establish some of your own holiday traditions.
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The following strategies will help you create new holiday traditions to fit your family:
1. Give yourself permission to let go of old traditions. Tell yourself that, although you remain loyal to your family, you don’t have to remain loyal to traditions during the holidays that you actually don’t enjoy. It really is okay to not carry out every single tradition your family did.
2. Ask yourself what you really want to do. Embrace the freedom of being an adult and having choices in life. You can do anything you want to do for the holidays. Instead of having people over for dinner, maybe you’d really prefer to do a brunch in a private room at your favorite restaurant. If that’s what you want, then plan it and do it.
3. Look at it this way: you’ll have your own tradition and you and your loved ones will really look forward to it. After all, it’s a bit different for this time of year. People will likely find new traditions you establish to be refreshing and a nice change.
4. Talk with your spouse and kids. Ask them what parts of the holiday celebrations they really like. Maybe they have their own ideas for what they’d like to do. Creating a new wonderful way of sharing the holidays together will deepen your family relationships.
5. Make it interesting. Rather than getting together at your parents’ home on the morning of a holiday, why not invite your parents out for dinner the night before? No one has to cook and everyone’s holiday is freed up the next day if you get together at a restaurant the evening before.
-Or maybe you get together on the holiday but break traditional meals. Instead of the traditional dinner of ham and sweet potatoes, you’ll cook up an ethnic meal, like Italian, German, or Mexican this holiday. Why not?
6. Call your friends who have skills. Let’s say your friend, Sally just loves to go shopping and wants to be a personal shopper. Talk to her about how she might assist you in completing holiday shopping duties. Or maybe your neighbor, Francine, makes the most delicious pound cake ever. Tell her you’ll pay her to bake two of them for you.
Embrace the concept of forming new holiday traditions to fit your lifestyle, budget, and family’s needs. Allow yourself to let go of old ways of celebrating in order to survive Christmas with a happier outlook. Figure out how you want to celebrate and get your family’s input. Ask others about their holiday traditions and vow to make yours interesting to all. Finally, tap into the skills of others to help you form new, enduring traditions.
Survive Christmas By Simplifying
You’re probably like everyone else at holiday season: you have a long “things to do” list and a clock that seems to speed up faster and faster as the holidays approach. How will you get everything done? The answer is both easy and complex: simplify. When you take steps to simplify your holiday demands, you’ll discover how much you really do love the season.
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These strategies will provide you with plenty of inspiration on how you can avoid a hectic schedule, serve easy, delicious meals, and throw some lovely get-togethers:
1. Let go of your vision of the perfect holiday. We all see on TV how every holiday is picture-perfect. The reality, however, tells a much different story. Make it a goal to no longer seek perfection in your holiday preparations. Celebrating holidays doesn’t require a perfect house or faultless appearance.
2. Plan ahead. Everything goes better with some planning. Keep a short list of what you would like to do for an event. It might have things like, “Clean living room, kitchen, and downstairs bathroom, order sandwiches, get chips, soda, and paper plates at the store.
3. Set limits. Maybe it’s just too chaotic to have friends over for a party on Thursday evening, then work all day Friday, do grocery-shopping on Friday night, cook on Saturday morning and early afternoon, and have your family’s get-together on Saturday night. Decide to schedule celebrations so you have at least 3-4 days between them.
4. Consider pre-made meals. Instead of preparing the turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, rolls, and pumpkin pies from scratch, contact your local deli or grocer. It’s common for delis in larger grocery stores to provide complete, cooked Thanksgiving or other delicious holiday dinners for very affordable prices. Place the pre-made foods in your favorite serving dishes. Everyone will enjoy the meal.
5. Consider having a potluck. Ask guests to prepare a single dish to bring to complete the dinner. Make your list of foods (or categories of foods) you want to serve. Then, contact each guest and let them know you’ll be making the main dish and would like everyone to bring a side or dessert!
6. Take advantage of shortcuts available to you. Perhaps you really want to keep the tradition of serving the holiday-shaped cookies but you don’t want to make them this year. Check out local independent bakeries to see what they’ve got. Also, you can see what the bakery in your grocery store has in the way of cut-out sugar cookies.
7. Don’t let the Pre-Holiday clutter overwhelm you. The Organized Home Course by Hilary of Pulling Curls is completely life changing and will make clutter a thing of the past. This is the one and only tool I needed to completely change the way I view and handle the messes in my home.
Making efforts to simplify your holiday celebrations can enhance your feelings of joy, peace, and love toward others. Practice these simple suggestions to simplify your holiday festivities and ultimately strengthen your family’s holiday traditions.
Survive Christmas Gift-Giving
One of the most joyous aspects of the holidays is exchanging gifts with the people you love, admire, and work with. Yet shopping for gifts can be frustrating and even anxiety-provoking during a season that’s packed with jobs to complete. We all want to get special gifts for our loved ones and see the excitement they feel whenever they open the package. With just a few adjustments to your gift-giving tradition, you can make the experiences of shopping and giving more rewarding and fun.
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Consider these suggestions:
1. Make a list of who you plan to give a gift to. It’s just easier to have a quick list to refer to, whether it’s on your phone, tablet, or written in a notebook you carry with you. The earlier you make your list, the better.
2. Consider your budget. How much will you spend on holiday gifts? And how much will you spend per gift or person? Set these amounts in advance to ensure you don’t break the bank due to holiday spending. In ideal circumstances, set aside money all year that will be available to you when you’re ready to start shopping.
3. Start shopping early. The earlier you start shopping, the less you’ll be stressed about last-minute holiday issues. Plus, you’ll have more time to get packages wrapped and labeled.
4. Keep notes. If you see an ad about a toy you’d like to get for your niece, jot it down on your list. If your co-worker tells you about a cost-saving jewelry store, ask her for the location and jot it down to shop at reduced prices.
5. Ask those on your gift list to give you 2-3 ideas for gifts they want. Then, copy and paste their lists and names onto one sheet to print before you go shopping. Set a limit of how much you’ll be spending.
6. If money’s an issue, give gifts of homemade food items. Nothing is more appreciated during the holiday season than a lovely plate of cookies or a decorative bag filled with homemade peanut brittle, peppermint bark, or caramels.
7. Consider giving gift cards. Although you might not enjoy the experience of buying gift cards as much as you do shopping for hours and ending up with sore feet, nearly everyone appreciates a gift card.
Gift-giving is one of the most cherished holiday traditions. You can better enjoy the process if you have a gift list, take care with your budget, shop early, keep helpful notes, ask for gift ideas, and consider giving gift cards to reduce your gift-shopping stress.
Survive Christmas While Avoiding Overspending
The holidays often bring fear to the hearts of men and women alike. After all, if there’s ever a time of year when you blow your budget, it’s the holidays. But think how much more you’d enjoy the holidays if you could pull the whole thing off without overspending. The sooner you start getting financially prepared for the holidays, the more money you’ll save.
Here are a few tips on how you can avoid overspending:
1. Establish limits on how much you’ll spend. If you’ve got $500 for gifts, then ensure you don’t spend more. Also, set individual limits for gifts. Let’s say you have two kids. Set a limit of $100 each. You’re left with $300 for remaining gift recipients like your parents, a co-worker, 2 friends, and the relative whose name you drew in the family name drawing.
2. Speaking of name-drawing, suggest it to your extended family. Buying for all extended family members can cause financial stress. Talk to your brothers and sisters about instituting a “Secret Santa” name-drawing system.
-This type of system ensures everyone has a package to open at the get-together and that no one is burdened with buying 15-20 presents for extended family members yearly. Draw names at Thanksgiving to allow time to shop for the person whose name was drawn.
3. Whittle your gift list. You no doubt have people on your list you hardly have contact with all year. It’s okay to cross people off your list. If you feel you must keep some people on your gift list even though you don’t see them much, make them some homemade treats to keep your budget in line.
4. Reduce the amount you spend on gifts and aim to only shop sales. If you usually spend $50 per gift, consider reducing your amount spent per person to $40. If you’re vigilant about shopping the sales only, both online and in the stores, you’ll likely still be able to buy an item worth $50 for just $40.
5. Refrain from using credit cards for holiday purchases. If you’ve set aside $500, draw the cash out of your account bank and place it in a special envelope in your purse or wallet. Then use that money only when purchasing gifts. No credit card use equals no debts to pay after the holidays.
6. Give homemade gifts of food. Others will feel your love through a gift of special treats you took the time to make yourself. Plus, you’ll save a good bit of cash by making up a couple of large batches of your best cookies or other snacks for gifts.
7. Shop all year for holiday gifts. Shopping year round means you won’t feel as overwhelmed with budgeting needed dollars in a couple of short months. Stock your gift drawer with items purchased at drastic mark-downs (or at after-holiday sales) for the next holiday. It’ll make life much easier and save a sleigh-load of cash.
Setting spending limits, using name-drawing, cutting the gift list, reducing what you spend, avoiding credit card use, giving homemade gifts, and shopping all year for gifts at sale pricing will help you avoid overspending during the holiday season.
Build strong, loving traditions over the years that reflect the true reasons for the season rather than how much money you spent.
Survive Christmas by Lessening Family Tensions
It’s always a joy to experience fun and positive holidays. Yet, we all have one or two holiday “traditions” that aren’t so much fun, like family members who just can’t seem to get along. Getting family members together means there could be tensions among some members who rarely see one another.
Your family might have one or two long-standing situations involving two people who seem to mix like oil and water. You might even find yourself dreading your extended holiday get-together just because you know what’s going to happen: your brother, Mike, and your cousin, Eddy, will get into it about something.
What can realistically be done to reduce these family tensions so that everyone gets through the holiday unscathed?
Try these strategies to reduce tensions between family members during your festivities:
1. Use decorative place cards to assign seats. If the group is large enough, you might be able to place some distance between the two who don’t get along well.
2. Step in to short-circuit the tension-filled exchange as soon as it begins. Although it’s usually impolite to interrupt, have something on your mind that you could ask one of the people when you notice the two debating. Lightly touch one’s elbow and say something like, “I just thought of something I forgot to ask you. Did your friend, Sam get married?”
-You could also use a group-directed comment like, “Hey everybody! Did you hear that our old neighbor, James, retired? I saw him at the store last week.”
3. Talk to one of the offending family members in advance. For example, if your sister doesn’t get along with another family member, talk to her before the get-together. Say something like, “I’ve noticed that you and Kim don’t get along very well. What can be done to make things easier for you at dinner on Saturday?”
-Even if she doesn’t come up with a suggestion, you’ve at least let your sister know that people notice the exchanges and would like for them to stop occurring.
4. Keep people informed. As families grow larger, sometimes people feel left out of holiday planning. Use technology to let everyone know what’s planned. Emails, text messages and even Facebook can be used to keep everyone updated. If family members feel they are communicated with equally, some tensions may be reduced.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Ignore small or insignificant sniping from one person to another. If the snapping at one another doesn’t stop as quickly as it began, then interrupt them.
Reducing holiday tensions can be skillfully accomplished by using these tactics. Putting space between people who don’t get along, cutting into verbal exchanges, discussing issues in advance, keeping people informed, and ignoring insignificant comments add up to less tension and stress for all who attend. Establish a tradition of reduced holiday tension in your family.
Survive Christmas Travel With These Tips
If you’re going to be traveling during the holiday season, you’ll be subjected to a whole different type of holiday stressors. However, you can take some steps to ensure you have a low-stress trip for the holidays.
1. Plan your travel months in advance. If you’re flying in November or December, book your flights in January or February. This way, you’ll be assured of having your travel venue established and won’t get caught up in the last minutes rush for flights and inflated pricing. Plus, it will help you spread out your holiday spending.
2. Save extra cash all year for travel extras. If you should get snowed in during a layover, you’ll need extra money for meals, cabs, and hotel.
3. Learn to pack light. Develop a short list of what to take on your trip. Think about 1 pair of dress slacks, 1 pair of casual slacks, a pair of jeans, a black sweater, 3 colored tops, and a warm scarf. Take care that you can mix and match every clothing item you take. Most importantly, carry on your bags to prevent your bag being lost or placed on the wrong flight.
4. Consider mailing your gifts in advance. Tell the relatives you’ll be staying with that you’ll be mailing a box of gifts to them and ask them to simply place the box in a corner or under the tree until you arrive. Better yet, if you give gift cards, they’ll be easy to pack and transport to your destination.
5. Allow plenty of time getting to and from the airport or train station. The added stress of worrying you’ll miss your flight or train is unnecessary. Avoid it by giving yourself extra time.
6. Pack healthy snacks. A peanut butter sandwich with an apple and a bag of grapes might come in very handy on a long flight that serves tasteless, refrigerated, expensive foods or worse yet, no food at all. Nutritious granola bars are another option to quell hunger on a trip.
Traveling for the holidays doesn’t have to be terribly stressful. Apply the above strategies to ensure you make it to your destination rested and ready to share in the holiday traditions with your family members and loved ones.
Celebrating the holidays can be a stress-filled season filled with long to-do lists and broken budgets or a lovely time of peace and joy spent with family and loved ones. Spend some time sorting out the traditions you want to continue and forming those that fit for you and your family. Make efforts to simplify festivities and gift-giving. Stick to a budget and do what you can to reduce family tensions. If you must travel, make efforts to reduce your stress. You have the power to create cherished memories of beautiful and fulfilling holidays.
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Are the holidays particularly stressful for you? What are some of the challenges you face this time of year? What are some tips you’d like to see to help you combat holiday stress? Let us know in the comments!