What do I want for Christmas?
What a loaded question! Hopefully, we all want world peace, civility and, of course, a few million dollars under the tree would help. But what is reasonable and achievable? How about a stress-free Christmas filled with love, compassion and goodwill. How do we get there?
The most important thing is to be more organized, by planning ahead and making and culling lists. Time spent upfront will be a tremendous time-saver and make the holidays more enjoyable for you and those around you. Here are some suggestions.
From November through the end of December, there are probably 15-20 events — concerts, parties, family outings, neighborhood get-togethers, the grandchildren’s holiday plays, etc., etc., etc. Let’s start with simplicity – cut down the list of “to-do’s.” Develop a strategy to cull the list and keep only the most important engagements.
Along those lines, are you the first one to raise your hand to host the annual holiday party or decorate the entrance to the subdivision? It is now time to stop being the first one to volunteer. Whether it is the senior center bake sale or driving the carpool to the mall, stop offering and let someone else do their part. Give yourself permission to say ‘no.’
Create a minimalistic holiday space. This doesn’t necessarily mean having a Charlie Brown tree but perhaps you want to rethink the 20,000 lights on the house which take multiple days to put up and the same to take down. Think about scaling back your décor and concentrate on having a beautiful tree, a gorgeous table setting and a front door that welcomes your guests with warmth.
If you want to decorate, think about paying local children or asking your grandchildren to help you. They would probably love the extra cash for their gift buying. You can also ask them to wrap presents, address your Christmas cards or run errands.
When you think of your home at the holiday season does it evoke a welcoming, cozy, happy feeling? When your guests walk through the door, they should feel joy, contentment and peace. If you are stressed, you convey that to your guests. So, prune your to-do list. Keep your chores manageable and remember this is not the time to think ‘annual cleaning’. Focus your attention on the kitchen and public rooms and let private areas slide until after the holiday season. Unless absolutely necessary, I have found it best to let major chores, like carpet cleaning, wait until after the new year.
If you are having a party, make it easy – use paper instead of china – there are so many seasonal patterns to choose from. Make your appetizers and meals ahead and freeze them. Have your guests contribute to the meal with an appetizer, dessert or a bottle of wine. Buy, don’t bake. Have you tasted some of the cakes and pies available at the supermarket and bakeries today? They are delightful, a wonderful source for delicious, pre-baked holiday treats.
Is it time to cut the gift list? If you are like me you buy and buy and then try to keep everyone’s presents equal and it becomes a never ending trip back to the store. Rein in gift exchanges that have lost their meaning. Limit gifts to children only, draw names, organize a gift exchange or, better yet, adopt a family.
When it comes time for gift giving for your family and friends, consider how the item will fit into their lives. Will it create clutter or will it be a gift they will treasure for years. Keep notes on what your family likes and when you see something during the year, buy it and put away.
Make sure to have some gift cards or small treasures on hand so you’ll be ready with a last minute present. It’s so easy to forget a gift for your UPS delivery person, mail carrier, or hairdresser.