How many of you dislike the holidays because of the stress and craziness of it all? This is extremely counterproductive to what the holidays should symbolize. Unfortunately over the years it has gotten more overwhelming and more stress induced. People pencil in party after party. Individuals feel pressured to spend a lot of money on gifts for everyone in their life. You go shopping and undoubtedly encounter stressed and negative people. So where is the fun in all of that? This should be a joyous time of year filled with good friends, family and wonderful memories. I think it is important to take a step back and decide what kind of holiday you would like to create this year, and then make decisions based on that vision. What is most important to you? What do you want to teach your children about the holidays? What can you do financially so that you don’t overspend and pay long-term? As December approaches, you can make some subtle changes that will dramatically affect your experience. My advice for each of you this week is to prepare yourself to create and experience a rich and wonderful holiday for yourself and your loved ones.
Because my family is Jewish and my husbands family is not, we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas. Talk about crazy! My children have no idea how lucky they are to get the best of both worlds. They love the traditions of lighting the menorah and playing dreidel, but they also love waking up on Christmas morning with the tree and gifts. I try really hard to keep things simple and teach what is most important. It can get crazy for me too, but I have learned over the years to prepare way in advance and avoid the last minute shopping and stressed out people. It makes my holiday season so much more enjoyable, which in turn makes the entire family happier. Remember this is your holiday and you can create a meaningful experience minus a lot of the stress and craziness.
ACTION TIPS FOR THE WEEK:
1. Don’t overcommit
It is easy to fall victim to the “yes” mentality. People invite you to parties and gatherings and you say “yes” before really thinking about it. The month of December can get so overbooked that it takes away the joy factor. If you have parties every week-end and several evenings throughout the week, you aren’t setting aside down time. Commit to carving in time to just relax with your family. It is ok to say “no” to an invitation. By saying “no” you are ultimately saying “yes” to more meaningful time.
2. Prepare ahead of time
Most of you know that I am a huge proponent of preparing ahead of time. Before things get out of control and you find yourself fighting the crowds and bursting a vein, take some time to prepare what needs to get done. Make a master list of gifts you need to purchase. Write down what tasks need to get done if you are hosting a party or hosting out of town guests at your home. Then commit to daily action steps so you can actually enjoy the parties and gift giving when the time comes.
3. Manage gift giving
This is the one time of year that spending can get out of control. I am just as guilty at times, however I have learned to tone it down a bit. First and foremost, don’t ever feel obligated to spend more than you have. I am a big believer in homemade gifts that come from the heart. Bake a huge assortment of cookies, purchase some tins at Walmart or Target, and wrap your gifts with a bow and nice card. People will love it and you won’t go into debt. Get creative and think long term. Don’t spend money that you are going to have to pay off well into 2010. Do not feel like you need to keep up with the Jones’s.