Celebrating the holiday season is a time of joy, but it often comes with its own set of challenges. From the whirlwind of preparations to the social commitments that fill our calendars, the holidays can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. That's why we've put together this Holiday Survival Guide, your go-to resource for making the most of this festive time while staying stress-free and savoring every moment with your family and friends. In this guide, we'll share expert tips and creative ideas to help you navigate the holiday season with grace and enjoyment. Let's dive in and make this a great holiday season!
Embrace the imperfections: Perfection is not a realistic goal during the holidays. Things may not always go as planned, and that’s okay. Embrace the imperfections, and focus on what you value most during this time. Try writing a reminder of your top values in life such as good relationships, generosity, and hope and put them in a prominent place such as a bathroom mirror or night stand as a reminder when you start to get stressed about the details.
Plan ahead: One of the keys to surviving the holidays is planning well ahead of the rush. Create a to-do list, set a budget, and establish a clear schedule for all your holiday activities. This will help you stay organized and reduce last-minute stress.
Set boundaries: Communicate your holiday plans and boundaries with family and friends to manage expectations. This communication will likely need to be tailored to the family member you are making plans with so they understand it is not about avoiding them but about maintaining your emotional well-being. You could also brainstorm how to keep traditions with a few changes such as a meeting at a different time or in a different setting.
Create a visual schedule: Use visuals like a colorful calendar or a whiteboard to map out the schedule for the week or month. This visual schedule provides a clear and tangible way for kids to understand what’s happening and when. You can even involve them in creating it, making it a fun and engaging activity. Sticking with regular routines such as consistent meal times and bedtimes can provide a sense of stability amidst the holiday rush.
Volunteer together: Engage in volunteer activities as a family. Giving back to others can teach empathy and reduce stress by shifting the focus away from oneself.
Divide and conquer: When it comes to tasks like gift shopping, decorating, and meal preparation, consider dividing responsibilities based on your strengths and preferences. Each partner can take on the tasks they enjoy or excel at, making the workload more manageable.
Plan for family dynamics: Family gatherings can sometimes bring up complex family dynamics. Discuss in advance how you’ll handle potential conflicts or awkward situations, and support each other during these interactions. Sometimes even a subtle look with your partner as you spot a family dynamic can bring all the humor and support you need.
Written by: Jennifer Wilmoth, LMFT