Confession: I’ve been thinking about and looking forward to the winter holidays since before Halloween. Our oldest has an October birthday and it feels like the kick off to a fun few months. Fun but sometimes a bit too busy. Enjoyable but sometimes stressful. Exciting but sometimes with a hint of panic.
We’re having another low-key island Christmas so I won’t have to deal with travel this year or dividing our time between family gatherings. But even quiet island life gets busy. Horse tram rides with Santa, Christmas Pantomimes, Preschool play, work holiday parties – I don’t think we have an event free weekend until 2014.
Decide now to do less this holiday season. This is no easy feat with all those invitations, the delicious and adorable holiday items up on Pinterest and if you have kids, the already palpable excitement over the coming fun and gifts.
1. Outsource. This could mean anything from buying Christmas cookies at a bakery instead of home baking (no shame!) to letting the kids decorate the tree. You don’t have to do it all and it’s fine to get help. If you have the means hire a cleaner to blitz your home right before the festivities.
Another option is to swap services with friends. Barter and trade anything from homemade Yule log cakes to babysitting to outdoor light installation. The job you find tedious or don’t have the time for may be something your neighbor or friend deeply enjoys and vice versa.
2. Decide to do less. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and cut something from your list. Block off a weekend day between now and Christmas for doing absolutely nothing. Don’t accept invitations, don’t plan on shopping or decorating the house, just plan on having a quiet day that unfolds as you like at that moment.
3. Set a shopping cut off. I am determined to have everything done by December 1st this year. I don’t exchange gifts with a lot of people and as you might guess from the title of this blog, I don’t buy a lot of gifts. We’re focused on quality over quantity so there will be no Dollar Store runs for stocking suffers or returning an unexpected gift with more than a heartfelt thank you. Decide now when the gift buying stops so you can start enjoying the holiday season earlier.
4. Stick with your routines (or get back into them!). We’ve had a strange couple of months here with travel and some exciting but time consuming work and life events. My Crossfit attendance has been sporadic and I’ve had less than optimal sleep. We’re trying to get back to our ‘normal’ sleep and activity schedule in the lead up to the holiday break.
If your family struggles with routine during busy seasons try to keep yourself on track in the next few weeks. Late nights, excitement and too much sugar are just around the corner and they will be more enjoyable for everyone if you stick to your regular routine now.
5. Try something new. Along with doing less and sticking to routines, try something new. Try something that isn’t about buying or making but about a calming thoughtful ritual. I read about a family that lit a candle over breakfast during the holiday season and how it was a special and calming ritual for the family. We actually did that with our jack ‘o’ lantern during Halloween and I found it to be a nice ritual that our oldest son and I really enjoyed.
So light a candle, take ten minutes to meditate before bed time, commit to a long bath on Sunday evenings or find a small new way to give yourself a moment of calm during the season.
How do you keep the stress low and enjoyment high during the holiday season? Do you say no or put limits on things or do you just go with the exciting tide of events?
P.S. For anyone looking for guidance over the holiday season Marianne Elliot, yogi and author, is once again offering her Zen Peacekeeper Guide to the Holidays. What does this online course look like?
From Marianne: You’ll get a peace-offering (in the form of an email) from me every day from 26 November to 24 December. I’ll tell you the truth about the practices that support me to find peace in the midst of chaos (including what happens when I neglect them and how you can learn from my mistakes). You’ll get videos, audios and written ‘recipes’ for these simple practices (for writing, eating, yoga, walking, sleeping and meditating) to help you keep the peace in all the places peace needs to be kept over the holiday season.
This course closes on November 25th so if you are looking for more peace for yourself and those around you this holiday season head over and sign up. I’ve heard great things about this course!