Normally, the first time I hear a Christmas song every year is always the same: I’m usually sitting in a Starbucks or walking in a Target, about a week after Halloween, minding my own business and not thinking about the holiday season at all. Suddenly, the familiarly annoying notes of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” dance across the air and I sigh.
Why haven’t I finished making my gift list yet?
Who agreed to host Friendsgiving this year, and what am I bringing?
Why is it mid-November and there’s still multiple rotting jack-o-lantern on my front porch?
How am I possibly going to find time to all of the new Hallmark Christmas movies?!
The holiday season can bring up a mixed bag of emotions, which is why I went on the search for the best tips and tricks for getting through the holiday season relatively unscathed. From avoiding last-minute gift shopping to connecting to memories from holiday’s passed, there are some tangible steps we can all take to remind ourselves of what the holiday season is all about. Here are my top three ways to avoid the panic of the holidays and actually enjoy the season:
1. Start making a list and checking it twice–as soon as possible
From budgeting to finding the perfect present, I think gift giving can be one of the most stressful parts of the holiday season. Getting a head start will save you a lot of stress when it comes to shopping. Each year I want to keep track of what gifts I need to get the most important people in my life AND stay no budget. I try to keep an ear out through the year when people in my life mention things that they like and I tend to “grab” little stocking stuffers through the year when I see things on sale (I LOVE a deal). I just tuck those away in our office closet to help ease the burden (mental and financial) that tends to come during this time of year.
If you’re worried about gift giving this holiday season, making a list of those must-gift people in your life is a simple place to start. I think just having a plan helps me feel more organized! Just like thank you cards, getting ready to gift is better late than never: you’ll thank yourself for getting started the second you hear Mariah Carey blasting in the coffee shop.
2. Protect your peace by setting boundaries for where you spend your time
The harsh reality of celebrating the holidays as an adult is there’s only one of you and only so many weekends available during the holidays–the truth is that you are going to have to turn down the occasional invite. It is simply not possible to make it to every single holiday party or gathering, so setting boundaries where you need to is essential this time of year. I always want to try to make sure everyone feels seen and included during the holidays but the fact of the matter is, I can’t do EVERYTHING. Something that’s changed my way of thinking is looking at myself (and James and Callie) as my own family unit really helped with my mindset around boundary-setting.
When it comes to holiday invitations, I think being honest with your loved ones about when you can show up and when you need to take a breather from the festivities helps so much. Connection may be one of the most important things about the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean it should come at the cost of burnout. The people who truly care for you will understand if you need to attend a different event or just take a breather one day.
3. Reflect on what you loved about the holidays as a kid
Real talk: the holidays were more fun when we were children. The good news is that even though we may feel nostalgic for the past during this time of year, there’s always an opportunity during the holiday season to connect with your inner child by doing things that you used to love as a kid. As a kid, one of the things I loved the most was watching all of the holiday movies (and cartoons). Now that I’m a mama, I took it upon myself to make the magic my parents had made for me with my own daughter. We also do ornament day, cookie decorating with Callie’s friends, and new Christmas jammies every year just like I did as a kid.
I think taking the time to create a little nostalgic magic for yourself during the holiday season in the midst of the whirlwind of stress and anxiety can make all the difference when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Remembering the things you have always loved during the season and allowing yourself to really enjoy those things will help you get in the holiday spirit no matter what emotions you might be facing.
Love and light–