7 Things to Do Now to Prepare for a Stress-Free and Enjoyable Holiday Season

Start early to make your family's holidays merry and bright while maintaining your sanity.
By Barbara Danza, Epoch Times
November 16, 2015 1:13 pm Last Updated: December 5, 2015 11:25 am

I know. It feels like Halloween only just ended and maybe there’s even still some candy around.

You’ve got Christmas catalogs in the mailbox, holiday promotions in your inbox, and can’t we all just take a break for one blooming minute?!

I hear ya. I’ve got your back.

This is not about the latest gadgets or decking the halls and it’s certainly not about the many surprising ways your elf can pose on Pinterest. (twitch)

This is all about taking a break, an intentional break, for one blooming minute. Maybe 10 blooming minutes. 

Deep breath in. Walk with me through these seven steps and tell me you’re not feeling just a hair calmer and more joyful about the impending holiday season by the end of it. 

Look Back

Pour yourself a cup of coffee, tea, scotch—whatever your jam is. Head to the photos and take a look back at last year’s holiday memories. 

What strikes you most as you look at these photos? What matters most to you? How did you feel last year? How did your family feel? What would you love more of this year? What would you love less of? 

Grab a pen and write down your thoughts or any insights that come to mind as you look back at last year’s holidays

Remember the Reason for the Season

Ok. Pour another beverage.

Step back a bit further. 

Consider why you and your family celebrate this time of year. Is this a deeply spiritual time for you? Are you upholding family traditions? Is it simply fun to join in the celebrating? When was the last time you asked yourself why? Does your family understand what you’re celebrating?

This time of year offers wonderful opportunities to both encourage your family to understand the significance of your own traditions and to explore the many ways in which the holidays are celebrated around the globe within different cultures.

Don’t miss this opportunity to teach your children the why behind the holidays for you and others and to keep your why at the heart of your plans this season.

Schedule Family Priorities

This little lull after Halloween and before Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reconnect with the priorities you have for your family.

It won’t be long before everyone else’s agenda comes knocking on your door, imploring you not to miss out on this and get the latest that. Pressure to keep up and meet external expectations this time of year can be great and the level of busy tends to peak the closer we get to Christmas.

Revisit what matters most to your family. How will you spend your time? Are there activities you want to partake in? Goals you are working toward? Traditions you want to maintain? Get those things that mean the most to you on your calendar, even if that means scheduling regular down time for your family. Commit to your priorities before the world comes knocking.

End Comparison

Between the marketing messages you’re about to be bombarded with and the social media pictures of holiday “perfection” that will come through your many feeds, it can be easy to slip into a mindset of comparison. Don’t do it.

Here’s a simple trick. When you sense that comparison monster rearing his ugly head, shift to a mindset of gratitude instead. Begin to think of all of the things you’re grateful for. The need to compare will slip away quickly.

Get Your House in Order

Spring cleaning is all the rage in the spring, but early November may just be the best time roll up your sleeves and wipe the slate clean at home. Not only will you get the house ready to receive holiday decorations and visitors galore, you’ll get rid of those belongings that no longer provide value to your family. You may also get ideas about things family members may need that would make perfect gifts this time of year. 

As you clean, what may stick out most is what your family does not need. If, as you dive in, you come face to face with the all-too-common problem of clutter, you may want to begin to hint to family and friends that this year you’re going to focus on experiences over stuff. Tickets to a show or a gift card for a pottery class would be preferable to more plastic toys, for example.

Remove Items From Your List

You know the list I’m talking about. That list of things that make the holidays perfect and magical and amazing and wonderful or whatever word you use to make yourself crazy every year. 

Your list is too long. Take another look at it and see if there are some items on there that seem to stress you out each year even though they don’t really bring you and your family all that much joy. Do you insist on seeing a tree lit in every town within a five mile radius to your home? You can probably just do one of those. How many batches of cookies do you have to bake? How many presents do you have to buy? See what you can scratch from your list. You will be surprised at how much joy that will bring!

Take Care of Mama

The combination of cold weather, hectic lifestyle, and a sugar-filled diet can lead to one rundown Mama. Take care of yourself. Is that you, Dad? Take care of you, too. Do what you can to simplify your plans, your expectations, and the demands you’re putting on yourself this time of year. 

Move your body. Eat well. Get outside. Stay centered on what matters most in your life.

As the holidays approach, remember it’s the love we give and the time we spend with our families that matter most and not the way we decorated or the dishes we prepared or the gifts we bought or the Pinterest worthy scene we created with marshmallows, glitter, and that blooming elf!