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Plan now (yes, it’;s July!) For a simple and fulfilling holiday season next winter! Summer will be roled up with the beach towels before we know it, and by September or October you’;ll start fretting about holiday shopping and preparations. To decrease your family stress, begin plotting your course now. Get your spouse, children and other relatives talking and agreeing to some sensible, simple and sane arrangements before the holiday madness strikes!
Here are suggestions to use as talking points. Figure out what will work for you and your family. If you only make one or two changes similar to these, you will have created a simpler and less stressful holiday season.
1. Keep home decorations simple. Get out your favorite items, but see if you can keep it to half of the effort of years past. If you must buy something new, limit yourself to one new item this year. Outdoor lighting, I’;m told, can add up to a hundred dollars to your electric bill. Is that essential? Maybe each member of your immediate family gets to choose one decoration that he or she loves, and you all pick a date to be at home to do the decorating together. This could be a fun way to cut down on stress for busy moms and dads. A happy spouse and kids means less stress for you.
2. Keep socializing simple. If possible, just be with the people you truly enjoy and love. If you must attend required business related parties, remind yourself that it is business and behaving appropriately, professionally. Either do not drink, or have a designated driver. Keep a watch on children’;s parties. Even teenagers need quiet time to hang out and relax at home despite the flurry of holiday activities and invitations.
3. Keep shopping and giving simple. I met a cashier at Home Depot who said her family is not delivering gifts this year, not because of the money, but because no one really needs anything and they are passing the non-essential gifts in favor of simplifying life in general. Some people set dollar limits on gifts, and others draw names or do a Yankee Swap where everyone draws a number and goes in turn to pick a gift from the pile. People with later numbers can swap with the person who just opened a present, and the first person who drew a gift can swap at the very end. This tend to be a hilarious good time for very little money. You may not be ready for any steps this big, but you can plan to stick to inexpensive home made items for friends (start now!), One nice gift apiece for adult family members and a few items each for children. Keeping the budget in check is a major stress reduction technique!
4. Keep cooking simple. You do not need a buffet full of appetizers before a huge holiday meal. Eliminate any dishes that you have cooked simply because of family tradition and keep the ones that everyone enjoys eating! You do not need Martha Stewart style decorations on the table. A colorful tablecloth, your best dishes, and a low candle in the center are enough to set a holiday mood and keep your stress levels in check. Lots of decorations on the table do not leave much room for all that hearty food anyway.
Talk now with your family about how to simplify this year’;s holiday activities. Convene the family in person or via a conference call and discuss how to handle holiday giving and gathering. Keep in mind how to make the holiday meaningful and fun with less stress for you and all involved.