10 Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season

As I write this my home office has been converted into a makeshift Christmas workshop. There is wrapping paper and sparkly ribbon strewn across the floor, the kids wish lists with toys cut and pasted from flyers waiting to be mailed to Santa are pinned to the corkboard and every square inch on our family calendar has something written in it indicating a holiday gathering, concert or family dinner. Focusing on all these things is enough to give anyone a panic attack for what the next month has in store; a month which for some is occupied by frantic shopping, awkward gatherings, extortionate spending and sheer exhaustion. However, just like the Grinch we can’t stop the holiday season from coming but we can try and make it as stress free as possible. Check out my Top 10 Ways to Surviving the Holiday Season below:

  1. Prioritize: Last year I attempted to attend 3 gatherings in one day and it nearly killed me! As much as we would love to attend every social gathering that we are fortunate enough to be invited to, it’s often not feasible. Prioritize your time and reply to those events that we know are the most significant for you and your loved ones and are the most fun! With this being said it’s sometimes wise to attend the ones that will give you brownie points with your family!  If you know that missing your Aunt Marjorie’s annual turkey cookout is going to mean you never hear the end of it until next Christmas, then make that a priority (making certain you have a quick exit plan if the old family movies start to make an appearance).
  2. Gift Giving: The endless list of gift giving seems to be just that; never-ending. If you’re like me than you feel the holiday urge to show your festive spirit by buying everyone you encounter on a daily basis a token of appreciation. As generous as they may seem, it does make for a very dismal January when the credit card bills start rolling in. Alternatively, choose gifts that are small in monetary value (a coffee gift card, baked goods, a box of chocolates) but paired with a heartfelt card to show their true value. Secret Santa is also a great way to reduce the number of gifts one must buy when you have large families like I do. Finding the perfect gift always seems like an impossible feat when shopping for my husband, so that nostalgia went away the year we got married. Now we write lists and stick to them to avoid added stress and disappointment. It might not be the most romantic gesture but it’s practical!
  3. Hosting Made Easy: Hosting for a large crowd can be overwhelming and daunting. My advice? Stick to what you’re good at. I can mix a mean cocktail and whip up some tasty appetizers, but my holiday baking needs some tweaking. Therefore, I spend my time and effort on the things I’m good at and leave the “baked goods” to our local bakery and cake shop.
  4. Holiday Glamour: Choose a holiday outfit which can be revamped for different holiday occasions without too much added effort or cost. Last year my silver tulle skirt and black sequin tank top took me through a holiday concert, a corporate party and New Year’s Eve all with different looks by simply changing out ankle boots for stilettos, a blazer for a sparkly cardigan and adding different accessories. If your go to little black dress still fits you and makes you feel comfortable and festive, then save your money for a nice manicure or new lipstick.
  5. Divide and Conquer: If you’re in a relationship then make sure you’re pulling half your weight when it comes to completing the lengthy “holiday to do list”. Decide who you will purchase for this year and vice versa. Decorating the inside and outside of the house is always wiser to do with a helping hand to avoid a catastrophic Griswold like unveiling of the Christmas lights. When hosting for a large crowd if guests insist on bringing something to help lighten your load then take them up on this offer and suggest a few options that will compliment not complicate your gathering.
  6. Plan: If you’re hosting a large party in the month of December don’t leave it until the last minute and buy everything the day before. Start picking up things here and there when on your weekly shopping trips such as napkins, alcoholic beverages, mixers and snacks etc.). Just try and not sample the goods until the day of!
  7. Learn to Say No:  Easier said than done I know, especially for someone like me who is slightly obsessed with all things Christmas. However, I have learned a few things since having children over the years to get me through the holiday season. One is that the excitement, late nights and increased sugar intake around the holidays means that my children (and us adults too) need their down time as well. We no longer leave the house on Christmas Day but stay in our pj’s for as long as possible.
  8. Being Charitable: It’s true that it is better to give than to receive.  Doing acts of kindness like gift giving to a local charity, donating to your local food bank, attending charitable holiday concerts, really does fill your heart with joy and make all the hustle and bustle worthwhile.
  9. Take time for yourself: In the weeks ahead make sure you find some time for yourself to stop and breathe. Whether this involves taking time to have a glass of wine while staring at the tree you spent hours decorating or stopping mid way through your shopping bonanza to grab a hot chocolate and people watch; make sure you take care of yourself; feeling run down and getting sick during the holiday season is something we want to avoid at all costs.
  10. The True Meaning of Christmas: It’s hard to remember the true meaning of Christmas when you’re at the mall for the doors opening at the crack of dawn fighting your way through crowds to find the perfect gift, or when you hear the familiar comment “this turkey is a bit dry” from family members, or when you have to remind your children daily that “Santa is watching”. Remember what the holiday season is all about; peace, joy and love; and take that with you in the upcoming weeks.

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Stephanie Lorraine Duncan

Stephanie Lorraine Duncan

Stephanie Lorraine Duncan is the author of the blog “Surviving Life Daily”. She is an educator, freelance writer and mother of three living in Birchcliff, Ontario (a very nice part of Toronto with parking). She lives there with her very tall husband and three young children. She will soon add a dog to the mix because she likes to […]

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