November 10, 2009
Hey LilSis, I think it’s a really appropriate time to talk about stress since we’re all about to go into Turbo-Speed Stress Season. We all have holiday stress for different reasons. Many of us get so excited at the holidays that we overcommit and underestimate how much time all of these things will take. We may have financial issues that make the holidays stressful. Some people are sad at the holidays and dread going through it, and feeling like they have to do things they really aren’t up for. Other people have family issues that can’t be avoided at get-togethers. Many us of just feel pulled in too many directions at one time.
For whatever reason, we’re ALL going to have stress to some degree over the next couple of months. Maybe we can all help each other out by sharing some ways to tame stress since it’s such a universal experience! I’ll start us off.
- My favorite way to manage holiday stress is to plan and start early! I already mentioned that I’m doing another Christmas bake sale for the SPCA on December 14th. How can I commit three full weekends to baking, just before Christmas? It helps that I’m kuku/kookoo (how do you spell that?), but I actually started planning a week ago. The baking team has already had a meeting, and we all know pretty much what we’re baking, except for a couple of new recipes that I’m going to test-drive this week. I’m going to have all my Christmas shopping done before baking time starts, as well as all the bake sale shopping, and packaging for the bake sale goodies will be ordered this week.
How does my bit of planning translate to organizing your holiday season?
- Even though it seems way too early to start thinking about the holidays, do it now! How often do you hear yourself say that the holidays just “snuck up on you”? There’s no sneaking! Christmas comes at the same time year after year! We just haven’t planned for it!
- First of all, have a brainstorming session with yourself. Find half an hour of quiet time, and just make a rambling list of everything you can think of that you need to do between now and New Year’s Day. As more and more things come to mind later, add them to your list. Just getting thoughts out of your brain and onto paper will give you a serious chunk of peace of mind. Sign me up for some of that!
- Now go back over the Master List you brainstormed, and start making Detailed Lists. If you included “buy gifts” on your Master List, then make a Gift Idea List. List everyone you want to buy for, and then start listing any gift ideas you have. You can see where the holes are. If you have no ideas at all for Uncle Paul, then make yourself a note to call Aunt Paula to find out what Uncle Paul wants. If your list includes “send Christmas cards”, then start a separate list of the recipients, and check to see if you’re missing any addresses. Look for those addresses now, and not on December 22nd! You’ll also know how many cards to buy when you’re in the store, and won’t have to run back out for more at the last minute.
- Make yourself a notebook, folder or binder with all of your lists and keep it with you! If you work outside your home, take it with you in a tote. It doesn’t do any good to have a plan if you don’t have it available to refer to when you need to.
- Now that your lists are in the works, next get yourself a calendar going. You might like a big wipe-off calendar that can be displayed in the kitchen for everyone to see, or maybe a calendar in your planner or on your phone works bet for you. Whatever it is, start adding every party, every cookie exchange, every school function and every travel itinerary on it as you find out about them. Grill your family for all of their commitments. Update this calendar immediately as new functions are discovered. Threaten your family that failure to notify you of a commitment means they have to eat the fruitcake that’s been regifted since 1974. Or you could say that Santa will bring them a lump of coal, but that would be pretty mean.
- Practice saying “no”. The reality is, you won’t be able to do everything that is asked of you for the next couple of months. It doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You can say “no” to good things in order to say “yes” to the best things!
That’s how I get my holiday season organized, and it really seems to help me to just write things down! It’s a simple thing but it has a huge impact. You won’t wake up in the middle of the night worrying about whether you’re going to forget to bake the two dozen cupcakes for the school if you’ve already put that on the calendar.
If you have other ideas, please pass them on. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be on a mission to find other thoughts and tips that we think might help us all enjoy this glorious season even more!