Yep. It is two weeks before Christmas. If the panic hasn’t set it, it is only a matter of hours. Have you forgotten anyone’s Christmas gifts? How about your neighborhood treats? Will you forget to make the treats for your child’s school party? The list is piling up, and you are going to feel a day late and a dollar short.
Well, not this year.
Are the endless to-do lists and countless parties really the reason you are celebrating the holidays? Whatever your religious affiliation, isn’t there something more? This is the year to simplify and survive the holidays. And here is how.
- Prioritize. Make a list of everything that you need to do. Then put it in three categories: must do, need to do, nice to do. If you are crunched for time and stressed out, get rid of everything on the nice to do list and half of the need to do. Once you do this you will find you have plenty of time to get what is important done and everything else will fall into place.
- Simplify gifts. Are you used to going overboard with gifts? Before you go crazy, think about this: can you name 5 things you received last year as a gift? How about the year before and the year before that? Stop focusing on the quantity of gifts and more on the quality. Your kids don’t need endless amounts of toys. Consider the four gift rule as a basis: something they wear, something they need, something they want and something they read. Build upon that.
- Start early. This is a little tricky for those who are behind this year, but get ahead of the game for next year. Be on the lookout for gifts throughout the year instead of just around the holidays. You are more likely to snag good deals and not fall victim to impulse buys. Aim to have the bulk of your shopping done by the beginning of December and dedicate the last few weeks to filling stocking and making treats.
- Focus on family. What makes the holidays special to you? Is it countless Christmas parties or impromptu movie nights? The holidays are family centered, yet it is easy to lose sight of that. Focus your events around family and your traditions. That is what your kids will remember for years to come.
- Take time out for yourself. You will run yourself ragged if you spend all of your time and energy focusing on everyone else. Take an afternoon to do something you enjoy. Don’t have that much time? Give yourself a completely uninterrupted half hour. Relax, digest and gear up for more.
- Lose yourself in service. It is easy to lose sight of what is important when surrounded by the rampant consumerism around us. Make some real memories by focusing on what matters by giving back. Visit a homeless shelter, food pantry or visit the elderly. After an afternoon of service, the rest of your list will seem trivial.