It’s late afternoon on December 29th and my current situation is pretty enviable, I admit it. I’m sitting on my couch in front of our still-lit Christmas tree. (I refuse to take it down until January 2nd, at the earliest. I’m leaning toward January 6th this year) Sunlight filters through the windows and a seasonal blend of essential oils is wafting from my diffuser. A honey-glazed ham is roasting in my oven with sweet potatoes steaming up perfectly in my Instant Pot. (Did I tell you I now own two Instant Pots? I’m not even ashamed of it). My daughters are working on needlepoint sets they received for Christmas and my son is enthralled with his Ninjago Lego Sets. The whole scene is pretty much what I’ve hoped this holiday season would be: cozy, cheerful and low-stress. I’m grateful to have had lots of extra time with my husband and kiddos this week during a rare vacation for my husband. And as I sip my Ginger Peach Tea, I’m reflecting on our holiday season and what we might do differently next year…or what we might do exactly the same way.
I’m at the point in my adoption of minimalism that I’m not obsessively purging items any longer, but I’m still constantly adjusting and tweaking our schedule, our routines and our habits. I’m not so much examining the stuff in our home, instead I’m take a closer look at our life in the broader sense. So I supposed technically this phase is more a practice of intentional living and purposeful planning. I’m learning a lot by following some bloggers that excel at this kind of life-coaching. And I’m working to discover a balance of rest and productivity that works for my family. So how does that mesh with the hustle, bustle and downright craziness of the holiday season?
For me it means, that I’m looking ahead already to what will be a busy year. I’m trying to put together the pieces of our educational, work, and home lives and how they will be playing out in the game of Christmas 2018. I’m thinking back on the last two months and examining everything from our budget to our schedule to our gifts. What worked, what didn’t and how can I take the stress out of the holidays WAY in advance. I’m not talking about hours of intense preparation, I’m just talking about a couple conversations and maybe a good hour of focused thought with pen to paper. If you take the time to do a little bit of planning ahead of time, your future self will definitely thank you next year! So let’s get started:
Step 1: Reflect and discuss. This first step should be easy and fun! At the dinner table, or maybe while you are driving in the car, ask each member of your family what their favorite part of the holidays were. You could also ask them what their least favorite part was, which could be telling. Their answers might surprise you! My children always get very excited and attached to rituals or events that are so small and often simple. Don’t forget to ask yourself the same question and really think about your answers! Is there a tradition that you could drop next year? Is there an event that causes more stress than it’s worth? Is there something you really want to add in?
Step 2: Record. I will be doing my holiday lists for next year in my bullet journal, which is my favorite way of recording or planning. The important thing is that you want this Christmas plan to be somewhere where it won’t disappear, somewhere you will remember to reference it from now until next December! I’m going to start out by writing down what we did for the holidays this year. I’ll take about 10 minutes and quickly jot down a list of all the places we went and all the parties we attended. If you really want to give yourself a head-start on next year, go ahead and make a list of all the special holiday recipes you cooked, and all the gifts you gave and received. Ok, I realize that this could be complicated for some people, so don’t freak out. You don’t have to remember every little thing, this is just like an outline of what Christmas 2017 looked like for your family. Don’t get too hung up on the details. If you really want to invest in this planning opportunity, consider buying a holiday planner like this one.
Step 3: Project and Plan. To pull this plan together, I intend to break the holidays into categories and create a list for each one. Some ideas for categories are: Favorite Recipes, Events & Activities, Gifts to Give, Decor, Clothing, Photos, Calendar, Travel, Entertainment, Budget. I would encourage you to make a list for every thing that might come up during the holiday season that would require planning, money, or extra time. For each list, I’ll break down each topic into manageable tasks to complete through the year. For example, I create a family calendar each year and breaking up the work of compiling the photos would significantly reduce my stress come December! Planning holiday outfits ahead of time would give me a chance to shop some items second hand. If I printed my favorite Christmas recipes I wouldn’t have to be frantically scrolling through Pinterest 2 hours before a Cookie Exchange!
Step 4: Follow Through. Have you always wanted to go abroad during the holiday season? Do you secretly hate the traditional meal your family always serves? Do you want to shake the gift obligation and propose an experience based holiday instead? Now is the perfect time to put these plans into motion. Pick up the phone and call extended family, start researching vacation spots, or set savings goals to alleviate the financial burden. Another tip is to set an event reminder for the 25th of each month on your phone as your “Holiday Checkup.” When that day arrives, review your Christmas notebook and complete a task or two and re-evaluate the schedule. This will help you stay on track and prevent the December overwhelm that we’re all pretty familiar with.
The entire point is that you take the holidays into your hands and don’t just let them happen to you. (I’m preaching to myself here, folks!) With some planning we can suck the stress right out of the holiday season before it hits us! Do you have any ideas for reducing holiday stress? Share them in the comments!
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