Preparing For the Holidays: Ho Ho Ho... or Bah Humbug!
Some of my clients dread the holiday season because it often represents stress, pressure, expectations, guilt, disappointment, pain, loneliness, exhaustion. and the list goes on. This is a choice. We choose who we spend time with. We choose what activities we say yes and no to. We choose where we go.
Your holiday season can be as simple or as elaborate as you choose to make it, and it can be a lot of fun if you plan accordingly. Take some time this week to think about what's most important to you this season, and then do a little planning. Here are some suggestions to help. ==> Create a list of holiday rituals that are important to you. Seek your family's input on holiday decisions.
Ask family members what they liked and disliked about last year's holidays. Write down the most important elements and activities you wish to include this year, and plan to make it happen. Keeping time-consuming and irrelevant traditions or rituals "just because we've always done it that way" can increase stress. Keep only those traditions that have meaning to you, or create some new ones. Give yourself permission to be in the moment and enjoy the smells, sounds, feel, and tastes that are unique to this season of the year. ==> Make a list of those you want to spend time with during the holidays. Who nourishes you? Who are the family members, friends, and colleagues you enjoy being with? Do you want to do any entertaining? If so, when and with whom? Plan ahead and ask for help if you want it. True friends and loved ones will not care how many hours you slaved over the stove. Spending time with you is what they'll cherish most. You don't have to be Martha Stewart to throw a great party! Are you invited to holiday parties that you really don't want to go to, but you've gone in the past because you should? Be at choice -- don't play the victim! This is not about whom you should see, but rather whom you choose to spend time with.
==> Mail your greeting cards, holiday letters, and packages early. Some time-saving tips: Write a short holiday letter that covers the highlights; copy it on holiday paper and add a note at the end to personalize it. Make a collage of pictures to photocopy on the back side of the letter. Use self-adhesive return labels. These labels are inexpensive and often come with festive holiday designs. One great online source for these is Walter Drake at http://www.wdrake.com. Colorful Images is another source. They can be reached at 800-458-7999.
If you have your addresses on a computerized database, consider printing out your mailing list on clear address labels. Years ago, an old college friend commented that she thought it was tacky to use address labels on holiday cards and letters. I told her that my choice was to either use labels or not mail our annual holiday letter to the 250 people on our list. Now that she has a young family, I've noticed she has started using address labels, too! E-mail a holiday letter to those with whom you correspond electronically. You can easily personalize this for each recipient. Attach color photos highlighting the past year. Another alternative is to create a holiday web page, and include the link to it in a personalized e-mail message. Mail packages early to avoid longer lines at the post office and ensure they will arrive in time. Or, better yet, sign up with Stamps.com and avoid the lines altogether.
You can mail large packages without standing in any lines -- as long as you have an accurate way to weigh them before you purchase postage online. ==> Thoughtfully plan your gift-giving. Give from the heart. not out of obligation. Decide whom you choose to give to and make a list. This will help you avoid overspending through impulse buying. If you think back to the most cherished gifts you have received, they are often homemade or from the heart. A gift of time -- such as a gift certificate redeemable for an activity you can do together -- can be very meaningful. Among the most prized gifts I've ever received have been homemade cards with a heartfelt note written inside.
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