It would be a fantasy – but wouldn’t it be nice if the holiday season went in an orderly fashion, one event to the next, with perfect orbs of celebration repeating themselves in different colors. What really happens is more like the whirlwind of leaves or snowflakes spiraling beyond control because there is very little you actually do control in this busy season. Still, there are things you can do to tame the chaos enough to enjoy the ride.
* Lower expectations. Advertising is selling “perfect” holidays because they want sales, not because it’s right for you this year. Memories are edited by our emotions. Now is the time to talk to family about what is important to each member (cookie baking? game night? visit to an attraction?) and plan on getting each one’s top item in the calendar. You might decide to scratch some things off your list of things to do. Fill in your calendar now with the things you value or they might be lost in the flurry of invitations and demands.
* Now is the time to decide how to handle gift giving in the corporate world. Your coworkers may celebrate different holidays than you do or have different customs for the same holiday. Corporate culture will vary on expected gifts and value but knowing those expectations now helps you figure out what you will do about it. Last minute gifts are not usually impressive, but they invariably are expensive.
* Most of us haven’t hauled out the decorations yet. Now is the perfect time to start eliminating things you no longer use in the home or your workspace. Don’t put the tinsel garland on top of the piles if you can get rid of those piles a little bit each day. Do the old “store it-give it-toss it” routine and clean the spot the pile was on. If you have to store it, put it where it belongs. If you don’t have a place for it, why are you keeping it? In the workplace and in the home the piles do more than get in the way, they are a safety hazard and an image destroyer. If you need everything in that pile you should make a home for it so it doesn’t get lost.
* Start a change jar if you haven’t already and put extra cash into it. This is your “mad money” for indulgences. When it is gone, no indulgence until more is in the jar. Don’t wreck your household budget for frappuccinos with friends. Speaking of budgets; know yours and its limit. Keep January bills in mind when you use that credit card. It’s easier to make your financial plan now, including expected work expenses. Then you can use that plan as a guide to keep you out of impulse spending traps.
There’s no way to avoid all holiday stress, but doing what you can to anticipate it and lessen it will make your holidays more enjoyable this year, both at work and at home.