Putting the Happy into your Holidays
Do you have a love-hate relationship with holidays? It’s no wonder people can’t wait for the holidays to help them escape into a time of family, fun, and festivities. While the idea of the holidays is always delightful, the realities can be quite overwhelming. Even though there is great tasting food, beautiful décor, soft fuzzy sweaters, and music that only comes around once per year, Holidays can be STRESSFUL!
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The holidays don’t have to wear you out. There are many things you can do to reduce the stress and streamline your holidays. Believe it or not, you don’t have to recreate a Hallmark Channel version of the holidays for them to be magical. It’s entirely possible to decorate, host family, cook meals, entertain, and still enjoy the season. I know this for a fact. I have hosted big family gatherings for years. Complete with decor, food, and gifts.
This season, and each one after, should be a reflection of your life at the moment. If you’re experiencing abundance with your finances, time, and energy, let the season reflect it. If yours is a lean year, allow yourself to modify your holiday to accommodate the needs you and your family have at the time. There’s no reason to struggle during the holidays. The season should give pause for reflection and celebration with family and friends. Keeping the focus on these things allows for the holidays to remain manageable rather than overwhelming.
“This is my wish for you: peace of mind, prosperity through the year, happiness that multiplies, health for you and yours, fun around every corner, energy to chase your dreams, a joy to fill your holidays!” ~ David Dellinger
3 Thieves that Rob your Holiday Spirit
Everyone starts with a tremendous holiday spirit—the mere idea of the holiday’s sparks joy. Knowing anything is possible during the season creates a sense of wonder and delight right about when the first pumpkin spice latte hits the coffee shop. Sadly, it doesn’t always take long for one or more three thieves to rob your holiday spirit.
The three thieves of holiday spirit are:
Any of these, or all of them, tend to steal the joy you’ve mustered for the season. Sadly, what’s supposed to be a happy time can quickly turn stressful when your money, time, or family are out of whack.
Finances have the potential to steal your holiday spirit
When cash is tight for the holidays, it can feel like a burden. The expectations for spending during the holidays can cause a lot of stress. Décor costs, gifts, meals, and attending extra activities can make a dent in your budget.
There are things you can do to help the budget. You can switch up your holiday plans or forgo some of the typical spendings to help keep your holiday finances under control. To help you prepare, here is a simple Monthly Budget Planner.
Do These for a Stress Less Holiday
DO- Create a holiday budget before the holidays start- Every year is different. Some years there are more resources for the holidays and some years are lean. So, make a budget before the holidays based on your current financial situation. Then keep to your plan to help prevent overspending.
DO- Find fun and unique ways to make some extra cash- Finding fun ways to make more money helps you cover the additional costs you have during the holiday season. Enlist the family and encourage them to earn extra cash to buy gifts or personal items during the season. Here is a source for some unexpected ideas for making extra money.
DO- Cherry-pick your holiday must-haves before spending- There are unlimited ways to spend during the holidays. Everything associated with the holidays is bright and shiny and can make impulse buying hard to avoid. Be decisive about what matters most to you during the season and focus your attention and your dollars on those items and activities and leave the rest for someone else to enjoy.
Don’t Do This
DON’T- Forget the benefits of getting ahead of the game- Procrastination can cause overspending like putting off tasks like food shopping or other errands that strain your budget. The earlier you take care of things, the easier it is to find deals and be more relaxed. An example could be purchasing all of your non-perishable food items for all holiday meals in one early shopping trip. Get this task out of the way and free up time during the rest of the season.
DON’T- Worry about what other people do- It’s an age-old concept but still rings true. You shouldn’t worry about what your neighbors are doing. You don’t need to keep up with anyone else nor be influenced by their spending. Focus on your family and what makes sense for your unique needs during the holidays.
DON’T- Allow guilt to make you overspend- It’s hard to say no when you want to say yes. Financially, it may not be possible to do everything without going into debt or making a poor financial decision. Don’t allow guilt to drive you. The holidays magnify emotional feelings. Set healthy limits that keep your finances under control, and don’t feel guilty for being smart with your money.
Time has the potential to steal your holiday spirit
There are only so many hours in the day. Though you could sleep less, that’s not the best way to try to get everything done. The holidays come with a lot of time commitments. Extra shopping, holiday parties and activities, and time with family and friends can mix with your typical everyday needs. Over-commitment can zap your energy and rob you of your spirit. What should be a fun activity can become an intrusion or cause a headache. Taking control of your time during the holidays might be easier than you think. One book I dearly love on time management is Brian Tracy’s Eat That Frog. Instead of procrastinating, there are things you can do in the months leading up to the holidays that can help you have more time when you need it most.
Family Can Steal Your Holiday Spirit
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart. “~ Helen Keller
Family is one of the main reasons to get excited about the holidays, yet family can also be a chief thief of your holiday spirit. Sadly, dysfunction doesn’t take a break from October through January. Sometimes the people you want to spend time with cause problems that make it hard to enjoy them, and sometimes you’re forced into family time with people you’d rather avoid. It’s possible to set limits and set boundaries that help you and your family have the best holiday possible.
Sadly, some people cause drama that can disrupt the holiday spirit. Strong personalities, addictions, and other issues can affect a gathering’s harmony and make it harder than it should be to have a good time. According to Howard Rainie, Addicted to Pain: Renew Your Mind & Heal Your Spirit. “There are physical, mental, and spiritual characteristics of an emotional pain addict. Some Call it toxic love addiction.”
Boundaries-The Key to a Joyful Season
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” ~ Hamilton Wright Mabie
There’s are Grinches and Scrooges out there during the holidays, and they have the potential to affect you. So, prepare ahead and set some healthy boundaries. People have many reasons why they aren’t at their best during the holidays, but their lousy mood doesn’t need to affect you.
The authors of the book, Boundaries, say “Boundaries define your soul, and they help you to guard it and maintain it.”
Here are the steps you need to set healthy boundaries for a joyful season
Step 1. Be aware- Some people are going to be negative. Be on the alert for people who have bad attitudes. Keep your radar up and recognize them quickly. Recognizing someone is hostile or draining can help you set up your boundaries rapidly.
Step 2. Have a plan- Prevention is worth more than the cure. That means it’s easier to prevent a problem than it is to overcome it once you’re in it. Having a plan for dealing with difficult people ahead of time helps. If you encounter a mean person during the check out in the store, resolve not to take it personally, or match their mood. Have a plan to be kind no matter what. You may even help make their day better with your bright attitude.
Step 3. Work the plan- It’s one thing to have a plan and another to work it. When people test your boundaries, it’s sometimes hard to stay calm. But practice makes perfect. The more intentional you are about setting healthy boundaries, the easier it will be. People will push up against your limits, but don’t allow negative people to affect or infect your holiday spirit.
Here are some simple boundaries that can help have a stress less holiday
Refuse to gossip- Keep your holiday gatherings positive by refusing to gossip about other people or negative situations.
Don’t Feel guilt- Keep your joy this holiday by refusing to feel guilty when you need to decline an invitation or choose not to participate in an activity.
Your reactions- It’s unrealistic to think someone won’t be aggressive or challenge your limits. Keep calm and remember you are not responsible for how someone else reacts to you. You are responsible for your behavior. Staying calm and rational is always the best way.
Pro-tips for Holiday Gatherings that Save your Sanity
Holiday family or social gatherings can be a lot of fun, plus a lot of work! What’s meant for enjoyment can quickly turn into a headache and affect your sanity. Sometimes the idea of a gathering is way more fun than executing a big event. What started as an idea to host a large group of people turns into a laundry list of things that need to get done.
Here are some great tips for hosting stress less holiday gatherings:
Sanity saving tip #1. Hire some help!
If you’re hosting a holiday party, consider hiring help with some or all of the prep and execution. You can easily hire assistance with:
- Cleaning your home before the event
- Party planning and decorating
- Grocery shopping (Most stores offer curbside pickup or delivery)
- Catering (if you prefer not to cook)
- Clean up post-event
If you are short on time but long on holiday spirit, you can easily hire some help to get your gathering in order so you can spend quality time with your guests.
Sanity saving tip #2. Choose your guest list with intention.
Some folks simply don’t mix well. Some activities aren’t great for every type of guest. Save yourself headaches by ensuring the party-goers are perfect for mixing and mingling, so your gatherings are energetic and fun. Choose activities that your specific group of people will enjoy and be eager to participate in.
Sanity saving tip #3. Don’t procrastinate.
One of the biggest drains on a good time is feeling pressure to perform. Failing to plan and take care of tasks early can make it hard to feel relaxed and calm before your gathering. Make lists, execute, and get ready for your party in plenty of time to be able to enjoy your company and the season.
Sanity saving tip #4. Make clean up a breeze.
Creating gatherings that clean up easily can help end the night on a happy note. Have plenty of storage containers ready, use disposable products for a faster clean up, and enlist helpers to make light work. Take the time to clean up before you retire for the night to avoid waking up to a large and overwhelming mess.
For more ideas for great celebrations, check out this creative resource for planning an inspiring event check out Celebrate Everything!
Including Others Can Change a Life
“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that? “~ Bob Hope
Including people, you might not regularly see on your guest list can impact and change a life. There are many reasons why people don’t have any place, in particular, to go during the holidays. As you ramp up for the special day, pay attention to people who could benefit from a special invitation to join you and your friends and family. There are likely people in unexpected situations that would welcome an opportunity to gather rather than be alone.
Find a “FREE Advent Calendar“ here for more ideas on giving back.
Some ideas could include:
Host a college student- who is far from home- College students come from all over. Many are far from home and don’t have the time or the finances to go home for the holidays. If you have college-aged children, encourage them to invite students to come to your home and enjoy a memorable experience at your home.
Host a widow- or someone newly divorced- Life changes don’t get put on hold during the holiday. If you know of someone who is recently widowed, divorced, or somehow finds themselves alone, be sure to include them in your gathering. Your gesture can help them avoid depression or added loneliness that magnifies during the holidays. They may not be in the best of spirits due to their life situation, but you can offer them comfort and joy and help them find gratitude despite what they are going through.
Host someone in the area for medical treatment- Did you know many people travel out of their hometowns for medical treatment. Some families are often displaced for other reasons too. Pay attention to your network of friends and family and be on the lookout for people traveling or staying in your area for unexpected reasons, which would benefit from the social connection. Offer to include them in your celebration and help them feel less alone.
Including others during the holidays can change a life. It’s hard to be alone on days when most people are celebrating. Being aware of those vulnerable, lonely, and needing support makes it possible for you to be a bright spot in their lives and truly make a difference.
Crafting a Mission Statement Helps Reduce Holiday Stress
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas” ~ Calvin Coolidge
The holidays come around every year, and each year brings the promise of magic and wonder. Christmas delights entire families and gets them excited for gifts, celebrations, and time off from regular routines. The excitement generated by Christmas can quickly fade when things start to feel overwhelming.
In the same way, that mission statements serve business, but they can also benefit families. When it comes to Christmas, having a mission statement can help families make decisions that support their mission and reduce stress, spending time on things that don’t suit their mission.
A sample mission statement for Christmas could be: To focus on family and friends making memories that last. Another could be- To use the season as an opportunity to serve others.
Taking the time to define what matters most helps remove any doubt about putting your emphasis on and setting healthy boundaries. If your family mission is to serve others, it makes sense to set aside resources to donate or volunteer during the holidays while giving up other activities. If your mission is to focus on family and friends, it makes sense that you would plan family-oriented activities.
Try these tips for creating your Christmas mission statement:
Tip- Involve the whole family. Make creating your mission statement a family affair. Involve everyone in determining what matters most to them and crafting a mission statement that reflects the season’s goals. It might be something unique like- to experience Christmas as a family on vacation.
Tip- Write out your mission statement and post it. Ensure your mission statement is front and center to remind your whole family what they have agreed is their focus for a holiday.
Tip- Weigh your choices against one another. When faced with decisions about what to do with your spending, time, and obligations, weigh them against your mission. If the opportunity doesn’t support the agreement, it’s an easy no.
For a stress less holiday identify your primary focus for the season and avoid unnecessary stress.
There’s Value in Creating a Holiday Newsletter
There never seems to be enough time during the holidays. Connecting with family and friends is essential all year, but especially during the holidays. One of the easiest ways to connect and engage your friends and family is through a newsletter.
Holiday newsletters tend to:
- Saves costs
- Keeps people connected and informed
- Build a community
Holiday newsletters save time and money- There was a time when sending holiday cards was normal. But the rising cost of postage can make a big dent in your holiday budget. Thankfully, you can send a holiday newsletter by post or electronically. Crafting one letter that everyone can read can save a lot of time too.
Holiday newsletters keep people connected and informed- A well-written newsletter can fill everyone in on the highlights from your year. Sharing the highs and the lows that made the most significant impact on you and your family brings everyone on the same page with how your year went. Everyone’s updated on what’s going on without making a bunch of calls or emails.
Holiday newsletters build community- People come to love and expect your annual updates. It forms a sort of tradition that people look forward to. Have fun with the project and expand on it when you have the time and resources. You can make your newsletter a video or add fun pictures to enhance the experience.
Typical things to include in an annual newsletter:
Your newsletter can include anything you think your friends and family will find interest in. So focus on the highlights from the year.
- Any significant changes that occurred
- Babies born or people who have passed away
- Eventful vacations
- AND MORE!
If you find something interesting about your life, chances are those close to you will as well. Enjoy sharing the events and activities that shaped your life and encourage your friends and family to send you news of their past year too. Getting a newsletter can brighten someone’s holiday season and help keep and maintain healthy friendships.
Gratitude is the Reason for the Season
“Thoughts turn to others just a little more this time of year. Days grow shorter and memories grow longer. Families and friends gather in celebration of hope. Giving is a reflection of our love and caring for each other and those less fortunate. May your thoughts turn to gratitude this holiday season and carry on throughout the new year “~ James A. Murphy III
The holidays are a time set apart to celebrate the bounty and blessings of the year. It is reminding us to be thankful for the abundance and beautiful things that have happened.
There can be added stress if the holiday comes when life’s chaotic. The holidays shouldn’t be burdensome. When you’re struggling to find joy, it’s important to center yourself and get back to the reason for the season.
This season is about gratitude
Being grateful is a positive state of mind. Finding things to be thankful for can be hard when there’s too much pulling at you. You needn’t feel obligated to make the holiday a big show. A small meal shared by immediate friends and family or as extravagant as a full traditional spread shared by everyone on your contacts list. It isn’t about the food. It’s about setting aside time to be grateful for the bounty you’ve experienced this year.
You can show your gratitude in many ways
Being grateful can be an inward or outward experience. Some people use this time to publicly share with the people and things they are thankful for. It is a great time to encourage younger family members to express their gratitude and help them understand the importance of being thankful.
New Year, New You-Reflecting on the Holiday to Make a Plan for Next Year
“New Year’s Day is every man’s birthday.” ~ Charles Lamb
There’s something remarkable about the new year. The promise of change and a clean slate gets everyone excited about the possibilities. There’s no other time when people are more focused and willing to make changes to enhance their lives. Gym memberships and more storage containers are sold at this time of year than any other.
The promise of a new year brings the promise of a new you too. What could be better? Everyone wants to do better, be better, and experience something better than the year before. The thing is it takes intention and effort to make that happen. A new year and a new you are possible through reflection.
In the same way, you can create a new and better version of your holidays by reflecting on your current season and asking yourself some simple questions. Evaluating your holidays and looking for ways to make them better, more fun, and exciting is an excellent use of your time.
What did you enjoy most about your holiday season?
Asking yourself what worked about the holidays helps you determine what you want to continue doing next season. Did anything stand out in your mind as unique? Perhaps something unexpected, like a special moment with your child or another family member. Maybe you tried something new that positively impacted your holiday. Being mindful of what you loved about the holiday can help you incorporate it into your upcoming holidays in the future.
What flopped during your holiday season?
Chances are, something wasn’t ideal during the season. Perhaps you felt overwhelmed, or an activity you thought you’d love ended up being a waste of time. Being honest about what missed the mark can help you modify your next holiday and cut it out of the lineup. Check-in with your family and see what activities and experiences they want to drop as well. You might discover there’s plenty of room for improving your holidays next year.
What was missing from your holiday season?
Asking yourself if you had to do it over, what would you do differently or want to include can help you make different choices. It may be that you’ve outgrown an activity or want to try something new and exciting. Asking yourself and your family what would make the next holiday season better can help you plan and get excited about the next holiday long before it gets here.
Giving back is a beautiful way to express the sentiments for the season. You don’t have to spend a lot of money. A card or a compliment can go a long way towards showing someone you appreciate their hard work. Find ways to show your gratitude and give back to someone’s holiday to make the season merry and bright. Celebrate for what you have and who you are rather than a large extravagant affair. Keep life simple and enjoy the REASON FOR THE SEASON.
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I am Shirley Noah, author and an internationally known stress expert and entrepreneur. I would love to connect further with you to help you improve your health and well-being. If you are interested in learning more about inner peace and calm, please take a look at my popular E-course, Don’t Panic: Find Inner Peace and Calm.