Monday, November 25, 2013

7 Tips for a More Relaxing Holiday

The holiday season is upon us.  If you are anything like me, the lists are long and the days seem short.  It's not even Thanksgiving and I'm starting to panic and feel overwhelmed.  To survive and enjoy this season, I'm going to have to act quick, so I don't end up like Scrooge!

Here are a few tips to help us survive and have a (more) relaxed holiday:

1.  Learn to say "No!" before you snap

It's hard to say "no" to all the invitations, events and expectations, but remember we can't do it all.  To keep your sanity and to keep from pulling out your hair, you have to draw the line somewhere.  Yes, someone might be offended or question your choice or loyalty.  But, when you find yourself snapping at anyone who dares look in your direction, it's time to start saying, "No!"  

2.  From Scratch- Optional

I had all these plans for how I was going to make up my own Christmas Around the World unit that would incorporate Advent readings and unique crafts.    When I started looking online, I found there was already so much well-written material available. Here I was stressing to do something that's already been done.  It certainly doesn't invalidate the whole thing, just because I didn't do it all "from scratch." 

Food is the same way.  If you love to cook from scratch and it makes you happy---go for it!!!  If it only stresses you out, take a step back and re-evaluate.  Your kids won't care if you don't make everything from scratch.  Pick a few simple recipes to make or buy something already pre-made.  You might even get your kids to make a side dish each to add to the meal. 

3.  Early Deadlines

There is something about getting things done early that relaxes me around the holidays.  Procrastination only adds stress in my life.  I don't want to be shopping  on Christmas Eve when I can be enjoying spending that time with my family at home and away from the crowds.  

I give myself personal deadlines to finish holiday tasks.  For example, I try to have my cards and extended family gifts in the mail no later than the Monday after Thanksgiving.  You can give yourself deadlines to finish any holiday task with plenty of time to spare. 

4.  Pick and Choose

As a family, we have quite a few Advent traditions.  Too many maybe (if you could ever have such a thing).  This year, I've decided to simplify a bit.  I have felt overwhelmed this Fall season and I don't want to let that put a damper on my Advent.  I started by asking the kids what ONE Advent tradition they wouldn't want to skip this year.  We decided almost unanimously that Jesse Tree would be our main Advent activity.  We'll put aside our Advent box calendar and The Truth in the Tinsel activities. We'll downsize!

We'll still light our Advent candles every Sunday and countdown the 12 days to Christmas with our nativity.  Simple, yet meaningful reminders.  

Don't be afraid to pick and choose traditions, especially if you are feeling overwhelmed!
5.  Do What You "Love"

Don't let unnecessary obligations squeeze out the things you love.  This goes back to # 1!  If you try to do everything, you'll end up so tired you won't be able to enjoy the things you really love about the holiday season.  

6.  Leave Room for the Unexpected

In years past, we've had unexpected needs arise in our community around the holidays.   Because we try to leave holes in our schedule, we've been able to joyfully help in those situations without feeling stressed or without any time to help.

Make sure not to over-schedule during the holidays.  Leave room in the proverbial "inn" for Christ to visit in unexpected ways.

7.  Stop...Wait...Remember

Advent is a time of "waiting".  It marks the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  If our activity is so much that we forget what we are actually celebrating or we start to dread every time we look at the calendar... it's time to STOP!  It's time to wait!  It's time to remember!  To remember why we are celebrating in the first place.  


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