Holiday Stress Tips: Keep It Simple

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Holiday Stress And Why We Have It

Copyright by Jackie D. Kimball

Norman Rockwell, an Americana artist very popular in that simple post WW ll era, portrayed the picture perfect holiday on canvas.His pictures of jovial families all gathered around a bountiful and delectably cooked table of food graced magazines all over the nation, during holidays. and imposed a need to have the perfect family gathering. Movies Like "It's A Wonderful Life" added the wholesome happy family Christmas idealism.

No doubt our level of stress increases if we impose on ourselves, or let others impose upon us the attempt to make our gathering a cinema worthy holiday. For so many of us, this unreasonable expectation of a Hollywood's version holiday lures us as we see the images flashing on screens,magazines, and billboards. Our desire to please (impress) family and friends with beautifully wrapped gifts,handmade decor, and abundant buffets and heavy laden tables seems attainable when we imagine it all.Our mind envisions the perfect event, and we determine to make it happen, but at what cost to us and even to those around us?

Do we recall the endless lists, shopping, preparing, revisings, assembling,more preparing,last minute shopping, stores crowded with screaming children, grumpy clercks and even grumpier shoppers? Of course not.

In our minds we shop leisurely as the holiday tunes such as "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" waft softly from intercoms. Happy lollipop sucking children are smiling shyly behind their parents as all walk by.We go home with the just so gift for everyone on our list. After a quiet family supper of roast chicken, green beans, and french bread, we curl up on the sofa with hot chocolate checking off our list of "to - do" as the gorgeously decorated tree in the corner twinkles. The rest of the family is in the family room playing a board game, and we sigh contentedly.

Maybe it can be, and is attempted by many who are on the verge of mental and physical collapse by the time the holidays are over.We need to remind ourselves that all of those holiday movies where everything is so utterly perfect is just that. Hollywood hype.

 

Wrapped in Holiday Style. That's okay,but why not bag some gifts in attractive bags? Try pacing and not putting off all the wrapping until the last minute.

Reality

Do we recall the endless lists, shopping, preparing, revisings, assembling,more preparing,last minute shopping, stores crowded with screaming children, grumpy clerks and even grumpier shoppers?  Of course not. At least we try not to.

Reality, for many of us, is a faraway memory snuffed out, or at least shoved back somewhere having been replaced with what we want so badly to be true.We will have the best holiday ever!We must!

The truth is that many secretly dread the holidays if we let ourselves recall the reality of years past. Not that we are scrooges, but the thought that we can't do it all to perfection is so daunting until we won't let ourselves dwell on what happened and did not happen on that last grand occasion.

Thanksgiving Flickr cc-karen horton
Thanksgiving Flickr cc-karen horton
Maybe a bit much? If it is not fun, don't do it!   Flickr cc
Maybe a bit much? If it is not fun, don't do it! Flickr cc

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas ....

We 've all heard the expression "less is more" and many will tell you, that once they liberated themselves from the so -called traditional must do mental list, that they enjoy holidays so much more! Ironic,isn't it, that doing less reaps huge benefits?

Though some men in the household do contribute, it is usually the women that are expected to do the majority of planning holiday events,meals,holiday baking, shopping,gifting, wrapping,decorating,and everything else that is on that six page list! Then there is THE DAY that it all is supposed to go off without a hitch. maybe it will, maybe it won't. Sadly,the die-hard do-it-all will probably be too exhausted to really enjoy the occasion.How can they, when they have had little sleep, little help, and clean-up is yet to come. Paying the bills and repairing the shaky budget also looms ahead.

Consider this; Why? Why must we continue having the elaborate holiday affairs? Why can't we narrow our must do list or even change the list entirely to "might do"? Are you as a reader, ready to entertain that thought? Even considering it is a liberating experience!

Tips for a Calmer Holiday

First of all treat your next holiday as a blank slate. Since I live in the US, I will use Christmas as an example. In your mind, wipe out every must do, every must have,every must attend, every must buy and etc. from your mental list. You can always add back, if you see you have the time, money, and really feel that it adds to the holiday experience.( If you are married or have grown children in the home, it is helpful, but not essential to have them on board with simplifying the holiday.)

Secondly, adknowledge that not everyone will be happy with your plans, and that is okay. Explain to those that are involved that you simply must pare down your activities,then firmly do just as you stated. You can't please everyone,and you must be prepared for this as you say ,"Not this year,I'm sorry."

Most surveys say between sixty and seventy percent of all surveyed name finances as their biggest concern during Christmas. Simplifying holiday events will tame your budget, thus decreasing stress and its accompanying problems such as rising blood pressure and the production of the "fight or flight" hormones adrenaline and cortisol.

Potlucks Are Fun!

So What Do You Really Want?

So let's see what you really want.I'm suggesting you toss,toss, and toss some more! Start your own traditions, not what Mom,Grandma, and Aunt Helena always did.

***Christmas cards - Don't send them, or pare it down to ten or twenty who will truly appreciate your sentiments. Really, just don't send them. I don't, and only a few of my friends do. The world won't stop, and your friends won't be whispering (gasping) that YOU did not send out Christmas cards!

***Gifts- make a gifting budget and stick to it. Cross off some people that you have reluctanlty bought gifts for in the past. You can let them know nicely that you won't be exchanging gifts this year, but you do not owe them an explanation. Suggest drawing names instead of buying every aunt and uncle a gift. This may take a financial burden from some who were hesitant to speak up about it.

***Decorating- Elaborately decorating the lawn, doors, fences, and every room in the house is costly and time consuming. It physically and emotionally drains those responsible for executing the plan. What would it really take to make your home cozy and festive? Not as much as most do. Do you really need more than one tree? A few lights in the window and a holiday wreath on the door make your home look charming, with the cost and work being minimal. In other rooms red and green candles placed strategically can add holiday ambience. A few bowls of fruit and holiday potholders add cheer to the kitchen.

Parties and Events- trim those must attend parties down to one or two. Skip hosting a party or alternate turns within your holiday party circle. Your suggestion will probably be a relief! Potlucks are fun and takes the work off of the hostess.

Food- You can buy slice and bake cookies, and local bakeries are at your disposal for cakes and pies,too.Do you really want to bake and build a gingerbread house? If there are children that want to make something decorative, how about a gumdrop tree instead? You can buy the frame or make one by taking a well shaped branch and putting gum drops on the tips. Time: about twenty minutes of fun and two weeks of pride!

If you are taking a covered dish to a party, choose simple but delicious items such as coated pecans (takes five minutes to prepare) or for a heartier dish, prepare a boxed augratin potato mix , then add chives and pimentoes for a holiday flair.Throw in a can of mushrooms if desired. tastes great and looks appealing. Carry your foods in lovely dishes or trays, and you have nothing to hang your head about.

If you are preparing the holiday meal, delegate! Enlist all the help you can get. Plan a menu that does not involve endless preparation such as chopping,slicing, and special sauces. Make dishes semi-homemade by using store bought items whenever you can.For instance, buy the pie, but add whipped topping before serving.If other offer to bring a favorite dish, graciously accept. (Trust me, this gets easier!)

Family Gatherings- See above for food ideas . Don't try to micro-manage the day. Let family members and friends relax after the big meal. Some may want to watch the game. Others may gather to go for a walk. Set up board games after cleaning the table. Have soft relaxing holiday music playing nearby the game table.Leave out the candy.What do you want to do now?

Do it!

 

Solitude

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Take Time to Think About Other Things

 No matter how much you try to simplify and trim expenses, sometimes all the hurry and scurry leaves you agitated and stressed.

This is when you find quiet time. If you can't find a place in your home, go for a walk or to the library. Think about other things. After the holiday is overwhat would you like to do? Maybe you've been thinking of taking up a new hobby. Think about it. Let your mind go other places.

Find Time to Exercise to Relieve Holiday Stress!

Norman Rockwell,Artist

Simplify Your Holidays

Are you planning to simplify your next holiday?

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Here's to a Relaxing Holiday

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49 comments

Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 6 years ago from United States

Very good article with good tips. It is so easy to get overwhelmed with Christmas activities and responsibilities. You made it sound a little easier. Thanks.


lifegate profile image

lifegate 6 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

Thanks for the practical--and thanks for advance warning. The holidays will soon be upon us.


fred allen profile image

fred allen 6 years ago from Myrtle Beach SC

Like that you wrote this. I may have to do alot of what you mentioned.


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 6 years ago

Bayoulady, Great tips in plenty of time to plan wonderful enjoyable Holiday Celebrations! Thank you for sharing, Peace & Blessigs!


RevLady profile image

RevLady 6 years ago from Lantana, Florida

It is great to be reminded of the benefits of preparing for less stressful holidays. Thank you for sharing.

Forever His,


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

@pamela99....thanks for commenting.I am ejoying simplifying over the past four years. Putting up one tree and really decking out one room is a relief to me, as I used to have four trees. decorate the porch and walkway,etc. Money woes and Stress....snap fingers..gone!

@ lifegate....right, and holidays are way too commercialized, and if there was ever a time when folks try to "keep up with the Jones" it's the holidays,especially Christmas. I have been liberated. The suggestion started with my brother and his wife, and now our whole family is on board. We love the peace and CALM of the season now!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

fred allen< I appreciate you taking time to comment! You have plenty of time to alert those that need to know..."we are cutting out some of the flair in exchange for a calmer ,less expensive holiday season." (I'll bet you will glad you did come Dec. 26th!)


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

DeBorrah, thanks for commenting! I enjoyed doing the hub, because my family has been doing most of this for 4 years, and the winter holidays are not dreaded anymore!More time in December to reflect on WHO was born in Bethlehem, not Who thinks what about why I scaled down! Very liberating!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

RevLady, thanks so much for commenting. You are right, the benefits are the perk of trimming down the hustle,bustle, and budget!


invita profile image

invita 6 years ago from Tampa, FL

I can think of many people who should read this, actually I will forward it. This is excellent.


heart4theword profile image

heart4theword 6 years ago from hub

Great Job! Holidays and Family Gatherings even though fun, can be so stessful:) Loved the ideas you presented:)


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

invita, Yes please forward it,stumble it,facebook it,....let me see...um....yeah,that....:D

I not only wrote it, I do it. SOOOoooooooo liberating to just make a plan to simplify,announce it and stick to it. Some got me gifts anyway, and i made no apologies for not reciprocating. I doubt they will this year, as I followed my plan! It was also nice not to eat leftover for a week!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

heart4theword. thanks for your visit. gotta leave for church, so cuttin' this short!HUGS!!!!!


samiaali profile image

samiaali 6 years ago

Thanks for the advice, and for reminding us that the holidays are closing than we think! There are some good ideas here!


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

Good information from you. You not only share about the fact but you also com up with solution. I like it Good work, my friend. Vote up.

Prasetio


RNMSN profile image

RNMSN 6 years ago from Tucson, Az

fantastic article!! I have been doing this out of necessity for years/poor kids they dreaded hearing the words "I dont have that kind of money" from momma!! But KISS the hlidays and everybody has so much more fun dont you think?


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

samiaali,thanks for commenting.Yes, closer than ever. I hate to wait til the last minute!(one year I was so broke I could not afford to buy and wrap until a few days before Christmas.horrible on the nerves!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Prasetio, thanks for such nice comments! I really do this during the holidays now, and I promise you, I enjoy the holidays more now.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

RNMSN- Thanks for commenting!(But you need to be in bed sleeping since you are working again..) @\OO/@

yes K.I.S.S.! Keep it Simply Simple!


mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 6 years ago

Potlucks are definitely a good idea. With extended family and work groups we draw names so that spending and shopping is curtailed. My mother however was the Queen of it all...she would buy Christmas gifts year round, when Christmas rolled around she was already done! Holidays should be a time to enjoy not a time to become exhausted.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

A relaxing Christmas? Who wants that? Not me! I love the Christmas frenzy and Christmas night is a house full of mess, hollering, laughing, and food. I save by shopping at thrift stores (the whole family does). And I buy Christmas cards at the dollar store. It is the thought that counts.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

mulberry1-....sounds like your mom is ultra organized!I do see a few things at a bargain and buy them all year, but I usally am at my best around October.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Deloresmonet_Thanks for commenting.Love your bargain shopping ideas! IT IS THE THOUGHTS THAT COUNT!

In this hub I wasn't talking about having a relaxing Christmas.My family loud and crazy,too! Like you, I love it!Family time may last for 4 days, depending on when our out-of-state relatives and children can make it in.WE are champion mess makers!

I was speaking of all the prep and expense leading up to THE DAY......Passing on what has worked to make the holiday a bit less stressful.Those that are not watching their budget closely and love the frenzy should do what makes them content. For my family, it turns out that we were tired of so much expense and work.

Basically I am encouraging those that feel caught in a Norman Rockwell time warp to break free. I asked ,"So what do you really want?"

Really,some of us are not healthy enough or financially able to have an elaborate holiday, yet press on for fear of disapproval.(Then we may find out that other family members want off of the merry -go-round too. So I encourage my readers to think about it like this:

quote- "In your mind, wipe out every must do, every must have,every must attend, every must buy and etc. from your mental list. You can always add back, if you see you have the time, money, and really feel that it adds to the holiday experience."

Even I, at the last minute may decide to tackle homemade candies, and etc.But I don't commit myself to it early on. (You can always add back! :>)


TheListLady profile image

TheListLady 6 years ago from New York City

It's always Christmas, isn't it? I mean it was just yesterday...OK, I don't know how that happens - but I do enjoy the festivities and stress is a big issue. So it is not too soon to make a few lists and be creative and relax and have fun...I think it is time to do some deep breathing exercises.

Thanks for a lovely hub!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

ListLady, thanks for your sweet comments!


Wealthmadehealthy profile image

Wealthmadehealthy 6 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

Hi there! These are geat tips...the easiest way I and my friends etc...find to do ANY gathering, no matter what is potluck...Everyone brings a dish, noone is frazzed, and we get to sample "everyone elses wares"!! I personally feel too much time is spent by just one person in each family to make it work..

As far as Norman Rockwell....he was a totally awesome painter...and in my mind, he paints life the way God wants it...happy, peaceful and joyous...He could paint in a style that was just stupendous..(or course, I am an art buff as well LOL)

Great hub!!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Hi wealth, appreciate your comments as always. Norman Rockwell is my absolute favorite artist! My daughter just had to have that big book of all of his paintings.


Wealthmadehealthy profile image

Wealthmadehealthy 6 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

What a lucky daughter!! Norman Rockwell is timeless...have a blessed day!!


prettydarkhorse profile image

prettydarkhorse 6 years ago from US

I rated this awesome, Thanks for a well written and well suggested hub on enjoying Christmas holiday, Maita


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

prettydarkhorse-thanks for reading and commenting.Yes, to not be exhausted to the point of tears (and broke) makes for a fun a festive family centered holiday.


butterfly Tattoo profile image

butterfly Tattoo 6 years ago from Dallas Texas

I found this hub very useful, Holidays are more stressful than anything else,

I always retirn from holidays with the feeling I need a holiday


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

butterfly tatoo..first welcome to hubpages, THE BEST writers community on the web! Thanks for your comments, and here's wishing you a calmer, less stressful holiday season!


Money Glitch profile image

Money Glitch 6 years ago from Texas

Great job bayoulady, we do need to take more time to relax and have stress free holidays. I think at times we forgot about the real reasons for the seasons. Thanks for the tips. :)


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Moneyglitch, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I don't know where you find the time with all you are writing lately ,but I sure appreciate it! REST!


Becky Puetz profile image

Becky Puetz 6 years ago from Oklahoma

Great advice and tips. I plan to simplfy things this year.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Becky, thanks again for reading and commenting. I have been talking to a good many people about scaling back a little so that the holidays can become more intimate and fun again!


stars439 profile image

stars439 6 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

Wonderful hub. God Bless You.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

stars439- thanks for reading . I'm glad you liked it!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 6 years ago from East Coast, United States

Hi bayoulady, I'm back. Thinking of the stress of shopping. My husband is out of work and I only work part time. Home made Christmas gifts are wonderful too, everybody loves that. And you can whip up a batch of cookies to give as gifts. Who doesn't love cookies?


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Hi Delores, you bet I like homemade gifts! My sister-in-law once made me some handmade BEAUTIFUL all occasion cards. I hated to use them because they were so pretty. Of course the cookie mixes in a mason jar are great ,too. I used to make wide mouth pint jars of my homemade instant spiced tea.(or was it 2 pint...??Oh,well...)one of my favorite gifts was a pillow case that someone embroidered a scallop design the hem for a pretty embellish ment. A quicker way would be sew braid on a pillow case......

thanks again!


Giselle Maine 6 years ago

Cool hub! I like the idea of keeping Christmas simple, but adding back if want to at the last minute. That way it keeps it fun for the host! By the way - the dialog in your comments is great, especially about how to have all the family chaos and noise on the day (which I too, enjoy), just with easier planning.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Thank you GISELLE,

Yes, I enjoyed all the thoughtful comments, and good to know that people are really wanting to step back in time to an old fashioned Christmas.Less about hype and keeping up with the Jones, and more about family and friends.

By all means, we gotta crank it up on THE DAY, and if we have scaled back, we won't be tired, broke, and nervous!Should be a great day for even the host and hostess!


Kevin Peter profile image

Kevin Peter 6 years ago from Global Citizen

Very nice, you had given me a nice tricks to have a calm holidays. Thanks a lot


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

Kevin Peter....Do try to have less stress, and I wish you well!thanks for commenting!


mahnoor1 profile image

mahnoor1 6 years ago

Very useful hub..good job!


skye2day profile image

skye2day 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

bayoulady. Beautiful hub filled with nuggets of wisdom and knowledge. I do not think Christ wants us all stressed for the season we celebrate His Birth. God can turn all things for good.

Less stuff more Christ. He is the giver of life. The last couple of years I have had less money then ever before but more joy then I imagined. The family friends co workers understand,because most are in the same boat. My reliance is Jesus Christ. I wish I could play Santa and pass the green all over the place. You would want to be on my block. That is not happening yet, so what is left, share in the love.

Great hub of love sweet gem that you are. I needed the reminder as the day draws closer. I am so grateful for Christ he is always the Best way. He will direct our paths, we just need to ask.

James 5

He will help us out. He uses people like bayoulady to share her love. I love you sista. You are precious in His sight and mine too. HUGS TO YOU. Up and Beautiful.


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 6 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

skye2day,thanks for your insight about what is really important during this season of holidays. Christmas especially has become so much about the stuff and so little about the newborn King.If we would focus more on faith ,family, and peace I believe we would come close to what we old people (not you) remember as a time of joy,not stress.


habee profile image

habee 5 years ago from Georgia

Wish I had read this yesterday! lol

Really good tips!


bayoulady profile image

bayoulady 4 years ago from Northern Louisiana,USA Author

BUMMER......This year I did not follow my own advice.I was still wrapping gifts on the morning of the 24th!

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