It’s easy to get overambitious about your plans for the holiday season when it’s still just a light-filled, festive glimmer on the distant horizon. This year you decide you’re going to host the best holiday party this neighborhood has seen, bake ten different kinds of Christmas treats, and make your own gifts with creative homemade wrapping. It’ll be so much fun! Until you get overwhelmed, your energy fizzles out, and you’d like nothing more than to go into deep hibernation. To avoid the brutal holiday burnout, make your holiday plans with your future (and possibly tired) self in mind. After all, the holidays should be a time of enjoyment for everyone.
Trap #1: Stressing over the “perfect” decorations. There’s no end to holiday decorating when you go all out with holiday lights (indoor and outdoor), a Christmas tree, special linens, plates, couch pillows, throws, and more. If you’ve been collecting your Christmas decorations for years, chances are it’ll take ages to put it all up. If the whole “decking the halls” brings you great joy, then, by all means, go all out! Just don’t be afraid to simplify if the process becomes more crossing things off a list than pure enjoyment.
Avoid the trap: mindfully scale back. Decide which elements of your holiday decor are the most meaningful and put those up. Then take a step back and see how your home feels. If it feels right, then put the rest away (or better still - donate it.)
Trap #2: Baking way more cookies than your family needs. Once you start the holiday baking tradition, it’s quite easy for it to get out of hand. Eventually, you get to the point where you’re baking more cookies than can comfortably fit on your kitchen counters.
Avoid the trap: Keep your holiday baking fun and low-pressure. Instead of putting the pressure on yourself to bake holiday treats for everyone you know, try to figure out the right amount of baking that will bring you and your family joy. There is no correct answer - just find the level of commitment that is right for you.
Trap #3: Wrapping every gift in elaborate and creative design with ribbons, boxes, and bows. For some, wrapping gifts is one of their favorite activities of the season. However, the fun can quickly disappear when gifts begin to pile up and the “fun” wrapping party becomes a chore that you can’t wait to cross off your list.
Avoid the trap: Keep gift-wrapping simple by mixing in reusable bags. You can still have fun wrapping some gifts, but keep some reusable bags on hand (including oversized ones for those hard-to-wrap gifts) so you can pick and choose where to spend your best gift-wrapping efforts.
Trap #4: Sending fancy holiday photo cards. If you already have the perfect family photo to use for this year's holiday card, that’s one thing. If you have to wrangle together the children, pick out outfits, do hair, gather addresses, and choose a card design, consider passing on the holiday cards this year.
Avoid the trap: Go for simple cards or wait until after the holidays. If you enjoy the tradition of Christmas cards but not the stress of a family photo shoot, consider sending a photoless card. Or you could wait until Christmas has passed and send out New Year’s cards instead.
Trap #5: Overbooking your weekends. Events and holiday parties can drain our energy levels quickly. A weekend with more than one event (like a Friday night holiday party, big shopping trip, and a play) will likely leave everyone exhausted.
Avoid the trap: Schedule your downtime. Make peaceful downtime a priority for you during the holidays so that you give yourself time to recharge and reset. Read a good book by the fire, sip hot cocoa, and take long walks in the snowy woods. Protect your downtime just like you do your most important meetings. Shoot for a perfect blend of high-energy events and low-key activities that allow you to make the most of the holidays while still keeping you recharged.
When it comes down to it, it’s not the decorations, gift wrapping, or Christmas cookies that make this season merry and bright. While all these things help contribute to the festivity of the holidays, give yourself permission to slow down this holiday season and just enjoy the little things in life. You’ll be able to look back and recall how happy the season was instead of remembering only how stressed you were. So keep it light, keep it festive, and you'll have time to enjoy the things that matter the most.
Tell us - what are you doing to simplify your holiday season this year?