Now that we've packed away the tombstones and spider webs for another year, we are suddenly crouched at the starting line of the marathon that is Thanksgiving then Christmas/Hanukkah then New Year's. The holidays can be overwhelming, but doing just one thing can help ease that. Below are some suggestions for helping you tame the holiday pandemonium. We do not want you to attempt all of these, but hope that one of these will make your holidays a little easier. Our hope is that by simplifying the holidays, just a little bit, you have more time to enjoy them.
Plan, plan, plan. Set aside one quiet evening when you can sit down and get organized. Use this time to make all or some of your lists (and check them twice): baking, shopping, gifts, holiday cards. You could also use this time to write out a budget or pencil everything into a calendar. Just getting these things onto paper can feel like a huge load off of your mind.
Delegate. The gifts will still be appreciated if you have them wrapped at the store. Thanksgiving dinner will still be delicious and gluttonous if you divvy up the cooking. Put your kids in charge of some of the baking or decorating, or at least rope them into helping.
Hire out the holidays. The ultimate delegation: pay someone else to do it! Have your holiday meals or parties somewhere else. Schedule a cleaning service to vacuum up all of the pine needles that are falling off your tree and dust the mantel where your stockings are hung with care.
Go digital. Why drive yourself crazy, trying to remember every single thing you need to do this time of year? There's an app for that! You can find smartphone or tablet apps for nearly everything holiday-related, from a Thanksgiving menu planner to apps to help organize your gift or holiday card lists. There are also apps to keep track of gifts received and who sent them, which could be a lifesaver once the holiday chaos has ended. While you're surfing, be sure to download some fun holiday apps, too, like an app for Thanksgiving jokes or Angry Birds Seasons.
Say no. You really don't need to go to every party or brunch or cookie walk. You don't need to participate in your office secret Santa game. You can phone in the baking for your kids' holiday pageant with cookies from a tube or, even better, from a box from the store. Remember that the holidays are a time for family, so don't feel guilty about setting boundaries to protect that time. Give yourself permission to politely decline.
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