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destress your holidays

Updated on November 24, 2012

The holiday season is one of comfort and joy. It brings back memories of my childhood filled with family, friends, going to Mass, celebrating the birth of Jesus and of course Santa Claus. Now that I'm older and a mom, I try to bring the same traditions to my family that were given to me as a child.

Replicating the holidays for my family can sometimes bring on too much for one person to handle and then the stress sets in. Will I have enough time to decorate, cook, shop and play hostess. Everything it seems needs to be perfect in order to have the perfect holiday. But perfection doesn't always make a HAPPY holiday. It usually does the opposite by making you focus on things instead of focusing on people. The more unplanned the holiday, the more memorable. Stress has a trickling effect. The more stressed you are, the more unhappy you are, the more unhappy you are, the more unhappy those around you are, so stop stressing and start enjoying.

For myself, the only way to limit my stress is with paper and pen in hand. I write everything down. Starting in October, I start to make several lists in my planner. My lists include: A Need and Want list, a list for decorating, shopping, cooking or dinner hosting, and having fun. This way I don't forget what I need or want to do.

My need list has everything that needs to be done. This can include cooking Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, shopping for presents for Christmas, or doing something special with my husband and children. My want list is what I would like to do, but if I can't, then it will have to wait for another time. This list usually includes trying out new recipes or making holiday crafts.

My top 5 tips for making your holiday less stressful and more fun

List making: Start by setting aside an hour to organize your thoughts and what you would like to do. Make a list of everything you will need to make the holidays special for your family. Your lists may include gift giving, shopping lists, card writing, cooking holiday meals and events you would like to attend. Include in your list dates, budget and time you would like to have for yourself.

Decorating: For Thanksgiving I usually decorate the Saturday after Halloween. For Christmas, I decorate on Black Friday. Everything that can be done in one day is what gets decorated. I only spend one day on decorations. After the day ends, the remaining decorations get put away for another time.

Shopping: For your shopping you need to know what your budget for holiday gifts will be. Then make a list of who you plan to give gifts to. Set an amount for each person. I start shopping in October, do most of it online, and try to get done before Thanksgiving. and know things can't always be perfect. If you're hosting a party, get everyone involved and have them help out, even if they don't offer, ask for their help. The whole purpose to the holidays is to spend time together with family and friends so this is my priority. Everything else comes second. Holidays that are not perfect are usually the most memorable ones.

Cooking: Our family always hosts Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner in our home. To make this a success everyone in our immediate and extended family pitches in. We decide on a menu and each person chooses an item they will be in charge of. From the main meal, to appetizers, side dishes, drinks, desserts and paper products, everyone participates and this relieves the stress from one person having to be the one to do it all.

Enjoy: Enjoy every moment of the holiday season. This time will never come round again. Children grow, we get older and things change from year to year. Play games with your kids, take the time to listen to your spouse, and make some time for aging parents. Do things that connect your family in ways that will last a life time. Make your memories last by enjoying the time you have with your family and friends. Take time to relax, laugh and take in all the magic this time of year brings.

From our family to yours, have a wonderful and blessed holiday. 2012


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