Every year I freak out around the holiday time and I really would rather not do that. I overdo it, even though I tell myself not to, and I don’t really enjoy it as much as I would like because I am running around doing way more than I can handle. Any hints you could provide would be wonderful! – Stressed Out for the Holidays
Dear Stressed Out,
Some of us get all flustered the last month of the year, between trying to spend extra time with family and friends, doing more cooking and baking, attending end-of-year parties, and school events if we have children. ‘Tis the season when scheduling is particularly important, but ’tis also the season when many individuals let that slip, thereby adding poor time-management mayhem to the holiday hubbub.
Each week in December, I will address a topic pertaining to holiday-induced stress. This week, I will focus on the problem of having too many welcome but nonetheless demanding social commitments: putting on parties, attending parties, shopping for food and cooking, gift-buying and wrapping, and dressing ourselves for the season – including matching shoes!
One rule for making your way through the holiday season without too much harm is: Avoid taking on new commitments beyond what you have already agreed to. Beginning a new project, such as re-designing the kitchen, is generally not a good idea at this time.
The holidays often add mean more emails and phone calls related to the increased number of events with family and friends. Sometimes we don’t allow for the extra interruptions that these “quick phone calls” add to our already busy lives.
If you are someone who annually sends greeting cards to large numbers of people, this will be another task requiring time and attention. Between purchasing the cards, creating the mailing list, writing notes in the cards, addressing and mailing them, holiday cards can take several hours that you may not have properly planned for. Most people send birthday cards and thank-you notes throughout the year, but to send dozens of cards all at once can be burdensome. Since this task can be done throughout the month, try breaking it down into steps and tackling each step on a different day.
It is not necessary to over-indulge in holiday cooking. I got so excited about baking last year, and having people eat the things I made, that all my housemates, in addition to myself, gained nearly 10 pounds each! This year I am ignoring the temptation to make sweets all month long. I’m baking for the various events I am attending and expected to bake for – and no more. It is delicious not looking forward to a post-holiday diet.
Planning ahead properly for parties you will attend can make it joyous and relaxing vs. miserable and stressful. Note on your calendar all the events and activities you will attend over the month of December, and place the papers related to them (invitations, flyers, etc.) in a folder entitled “Coming up soon.” This prevents them from getting lost around the office or house. You will be able to easily find the address and other information when you are ready to go to the event.
Know what you need to bring, what you may need to purchase, or what you plan to make. Schedule on your calendar, well in advance, the necessary steps for these tasks, so you can get them done at a comfortable pace.
See next week’s column for more holiday organizing ideas. Enjoy the season!