|Stressing out about the holidays already? Many feel that the rest of their year is enough of a juggling act without having to decorate the house with a thousand lights, make special meals, Christmas shop, send out cards, and entertain friends and relatives. Fortunately, there are some ways to ease holiday stress so that you can see this time of year through the eyes of a child once again.
A list written right when the stress is starting to show up (probably in mid-November), can stop a lot of your worries before they turn you into a grump. This list should be a stream of consciousness brainstorm of everything you think you should, or think you want, to do. Write down everything from shopping for Christmas cards to making a gingerbread house. Include people you want to buy presents for on this list. Also, write down recipes you want to make, how much money you want to budget for the holidays, and any potential dates you could entertain. Don't worry about how long the list gets, because a lot of it is going to be crossed out or consolidated. This process might take you a couple of hours on a weeknight, but it will save you hours of time in December.
Your holiday list will reveal right away why you can't seem to enjoy Christmas as much as you used to. There is just too much on it! The good news is that this cluster of somewhat disorganized thoughts is now on paper and out of your head. Instead of carrying all these worries in your mind, you can carry them in your pocket, or leave them at home. You can also relax, because you are going to learn how to simplify your to-do list so much, that you will find yourself ready to sing Christmas carols and go sledding.
The only rule about scaling down your holiday list is that you do it in a way which makes the most sense to you. Grouping items that go together and putting them under a topic could be one way to organize these plans. For example, include a topic titled "shopping." Now, under that listing you could move anything from the original list that requires you to go out and shop. Break down topics into sub-topics, like having things you can buy on the internet, or from certain stores. If you are just happy with your original list, then make sure you make a copy of it and put it somewhere else in case in gets lost in the shuffle. The point is to group items so that you can do them all on a particular day, or in a certain place, and to make sure that you and anyone else who has agreed to help out can understand it.
Having your thoughts organized should take a little of the weight off of your shoulders, but the question may remain, "how will I get everything done?" This is where you get to cross off things without ever having to do them. Narrow items down until you feel comfortable enough that you will be able to get your holiday tasks done. Remember that you don't have to fit everything into one holiday season. If you want to have a cookie decorating party, a cocktail party and a Christmas brunch, try to scratch one of them off your list. Or, if you are sure that you want to do all three, then make two of the parties as simple as possible and save your gourmet energy for one. You don't have to have six different types of cookies at your decorating party, just one or two. Instead of competing for the best lights in the neighborhood, buy a few traditional-style wreaths with red ribbons and set up spotlights to shine on them at night. This looks beautiful and festive, and it will give hours of time back to you for something else that is more important.
Some things, like Christmas cards, are going to stay on your list, but you can even organize this into a manageable form. Your Christmas or holiday card topic should include getting addresses, stamps, cards, and making time to write them out. Set aside a day to do as much of this as possible. Consolidate calling people for addresses with inviting them over for your holiday party. Family newsletters have become popular, because they provide more details about you for people than just writing, "Happy Holidays." Write up a page about things that have happened over the year. Make copies and insert them into the cards, then just sign your name. While writing up the newsletter might take you an hour, it will save you from having to write separate messages into each card, and it will reach out to those whom you haven't been able to catch-up with throughout the year.
Most of all, make sure that spending time with family and friends is set as the highest priority. Decide that you will give out pre-made gift baskets instead of spending hours picking out gifts, or throw a party for friends instead of seeing a Christmas movie. Don't try to do everything, just do what is most important. People get so wrapped up in the process of the holidays, they forget to take one of its most important lessons to heart, which is to have quality time with your loved ones. Although children say that they want a lot of presents, remember that they love to do holiday activities with their parents and family. If the adults are too stressed out about getting everything done, than everyone misses out on the spirit of the holidays.