Slow Down for Christmas, Ten Tips for a Happier Christmas.
Ten Tips Summary
- You are the number one item.
- The gifts.
- Make a list.
- Don't do it alone.
- Keep things simple.
- You are host not referee.
- Avoid stress.
- When you get tired.
- Clean up help.
- Have a great Holiday.
There is So Much Happening
At Christmas time we have the office party, the Christmas tree, the Christmas decorations (inside and out), the snow, the car, the kid's parties, the eggnog, the dinner menu, the adult Christmas parties, the neighborhood gatherings, the gift exchanges, the -- Hold It! When do we get a chance to take a breath and actually enjoy the Christmas season? I’ll tell you when, when we make ourselves take the time, or when we finally go to bed Christmas Day, whichever comes first, right?
You Are The Number One Item
You need to keep going, but you can't if you don't take a few moments for yourself every day! At the end of a hectic day, don’t forget to reward yourself for all the things you did get accomplished. Pour a glass of your favorite wine and sip it while you watch a favorite Christmas show. Fill the tub with your favorite herbal mix and soak for a bit. Take that extra cookie you wanted, what the hey, you’ll work it off tomorrow when you take on the marathon gift buying, right? Or, just take a deep breath and look at what you have done. Smile, you did it! Now relax for the night! Even if you didn't get everything you wanted completed today, there is always tomorrow (and the neighbor who is always asking if they can help with anything. Sorry, I got carried away. As long as you take the time for yourself, you will find the chaos will be easily handled.
Gifts are supposed to show how much you care for a person, not how much money you have to spend. Get what you want to get for the person and smile. If they don’t like it, they can exchange it (or sell it or give it to the dog to play with ). Its the thought that is supposed to count and you put thought in your gift purchases, right?
Okay, so you don’t like Uncle Joe because he drinks too much, but that set of PJ’s will fit him just right (especially the Beer Logo). And Little Sarah really does like those electronic gadgets, but you know she’ll only play about four hours and then go back to the TV, so maybe a big pillow she can lay on while watching TV would be better. Get things they will use, not things they want just because the neighbors have them. Take time to think about your gifts before you go out to get them. And start early so there is no last minute rush for things.
Make A List
Lists are great for Christmas time. You can list who you need to buy for, what you did buy them, and when it is wrapped and ready to go. You can list what you need to get for Christmas dinner, who you want to send Christmas cards to, and even hostess gifts you want to bring. Lists keep you on track and make it easy to prepare for the Christmas holiday.
How Do You Usually Do It
Do you ask for help or do you go it alone?
Don't Do It Alone
Involve the kids and your spouse in the frantic preps. Get your spouse involved in hanging up the decorations. Let the kids wrap some of those gifts, they won’t be perfect, but they will be wrapped. And the kids can proudly announce their assistance. Get the spouse to make a few purchases on his way home from work (be sure to give him a list of ideas). Let the kids help with the cleaning and baking (yeah, the house gets a bit floury, but the kids have fun). You can even get other family members to help. If you are hosting the dinner this year, why can’t some of those coming make some of the dishes, or help clean up for the gathering or after it?
Try to make arrangements for several to arrive early so they can help you finish the last minute cooking and table arrangements. See if they will bring extra chairs if needed, or even an extra table or two. The more others do, the less you will have to do, and the less you will stress.
Keep Things Simple
You don’t have to wax the floors of the basement, straighten the garage, or clean out your cupboards. You don’t have to make ten different desserts. And you don’t have to make six different side dishes. Don't worry about whether your tree is decorated enough or if you have a big enough wreath on the door. Do things you like and then rest. Because if they don't like what you did, smile and tell them that they are welcome to host everything for next year. Besides, who cares what they think, you are the one who has to live with your decor not them.
You Are Host Not Referee
Don’t stress over who will sit where! Let them make up their own minds. If Uncle Sassaphrass doesn’t want to sit next to Aunt Jessiah then he/she can go to the other side of the table and sit with Geraldine and George from down the street. Okay, maybe that’s a bit exaggerated, but this is a holiday and fights and disagreements should be left at the door. A good way to get your point across is to have one of your outside tables pulled close to the window (outside) and decorated with a tablecloth and a centerpiece. Tell everyone that whoever makes trouble gets to eat out there if they don't settle down. Or tell them they won't get dessert. I know, this sounds silly, but you are not a referee! Family life can be complicated, but it can also be wonderful. Ask your guests to remember the good times instead of dragging up old business.
Did you get enough food? Did you make enough gravy? Did you peel enough potatoes? Is the tree big enough? Did I clean the bathtub? You did! Even if you only made enough food for everyone to have a taste, you made enough. The Holiday dinner isn’t a huge restaurant buffet for the family to graze on for the whole day. It’s a family gathering and meal. You cooked, you cleaned, you decorated, and you bought gifts.
Stop worrying about whether one of your guests is unhappy and remember that Christmas is a time for celebrating, not stressing. Stress starts when you start second-guessing yourself about things. To stop the guessing and the worrying just do your best and smile. It doesn't matter if you goofed up somewhere because it can be fixed, replaced, or addressed when needed. But you did your best! No worries needed.
When You Get Tired
When you get tired, take a break and enjoy the season. If you don't get everything done before the guests arrive, remember that they have hands too. Don't wear yourself out trying to do it all. Get some rest, relax, and enjoy the fruits of your labors. Yes it is hectic on occasion, but that should just add to the excitement. You need to enjoy the holidays just as much as everyone else. Forget about being perfect and concentrate on enjoying the festivities. Oh, and be sure to go to bed when you get tired so you can be refreshed for the next day's activities.
Clean Up Help
Ask everyone to help with the clean up before you end the party. Make it part of a game (yes, adults like games too). The first one to get their area cleaned up will win an extra gift. Or you could simply ask family and friends to help with the clean up before the party even begins. And if they all fall through, just do it one section at a time. You will get it done, just like you did the prep and the decorating. Next year let someone else host, but you might want to help them with the set up and the clean up.
Have a Great Holiday
Enjoy yourself! I cannot stress that one enough. If you are doing something that is upsetting you, then don’t do it. Don’t host Christmas this year, let someone else have the honor. Don’t put up a huge tree, go out and buy one already decorated. Get a small one that sits on the coffee table if that’s what you want. Don’t decorate the yard this year, you don’t have to outdo the Jones’s every year, let them spend the money on the latest and greatest, you have gifts to buy. And don’t worry about whether anyone will like what you have done. It’s Christmas, a time for family. Stressing over the gifts, the meals, the gathering and the decorations is just not worth it!
When it comes right down to it, the holiday is not a time for you to make everyone else happy. It is a time for everyone, including yourself, to be happy. And let’s face it, if anyone is usually unhappy about something, they will still be unhappy whether you went out of your way for them or not. My favorite way to enjoy the holiday is to sit near the tree and drink cocoa while watching a Christmas movie. How about you?
© 2011 Cheryl Simonds