The holiday season is more than Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s. Keep a sharp eye out on your time and pocketbook and this could be your least stressful holiday yet.
Budgeting gifts; planning and cooking meals; coordinating travel; buying and wrapping gifts; coordinating, preparing and sending greeting cards, attend parties, cleaning are just a few of the task that can create stress and the feeling of overwhelm.
This year, commit to starting early and incorporating the following strategies into your holiday preparation. By applying these tactics you’ll find this holiday season will be your most enjoyable and least stressful.
1. Plan - Not just in your head but on paper. Brainstorm your first list. Then create three list and code the list as follows: A(Activities), B (Budget), C/G(Cards/Gifts).
Here are some suggestions to add to your list:
• Party Hosting/attending
• Food menu/shopping
• Holiday cooking/baking
• Holiday cleaning
• Family/friends entertainment
• Greeting cards
• Gift shopping/wrapping
• Giving Time & Money
Set a maximum budget for all activities and stick to it.
Use a financial spreadsheet. Put your maximum spending amount at the top of the sheet and then subtract each item from the total as you make purchases. Allocate a maximum amount for each category and each item in the category.
If you haven’t already created a database spreadsheet with the name, physical and email addresses of each person you want to send a greeting and or gift do so. This will create a checklist and keep you on track.
Use the same list for gifts. Enter a maximum amount for each person then look for gifts within the range. Shop online. If the person doesn’t mind, have the gift delivered to the recipient. To save time consider Gift Card and Certificates. Many retails also offer E-Cards which can be purchased online.
Another time saver is gift baskets and flowers.
Also gift bags and envelopes are a real way to save time and stress of wrapping gifts. Another option is to have the store gift wrap. (But budget the cost into your gift giving budget maximum). If you decide to wrap gifts check your supply before you are half way through the gift shopping to insure you have sufficient supply.
Consider electronic cards, email, text message, and voicemail to express your greeting. If you have run out of time for greetings don’t stress there is always next year!
If sending cards set a deadline for mailing.
Remember, keep a running tally of how much your spending and you won’t want to scream at the end of the holidays.
What creates feelings of stress and overwhelm is the pressure we place on our self during the holiday season. Set realistic expectations. If you know that work its gets really crazy at the end of the year you will need to divide time between family, friend and work accept that you need to truly plan early or if you've run out of time take some things off your list, hire help or delegate to family or friends.
2. Prioritize – Decide what must be done and what can go undone. Decide what matters and keep your eye on the prize... only the must be done. Don’t’ worry about others perception. Set expectations that can be realistically realized. Be honest with yourself, family and friends, so everyone will be on the same page and there are no surprises.
3. Do not Delay –Putting off task at this time of the year, whether it’s at work or home, can cause enormous stress and feelings of overwhelm. Stick to your plan. Once you have decided what must be done identify who can help get it done. Set deadlines and travel dates for all items under activities to stay on schedule.
4. Delegate – Enlisting help from family, friends, and even colleagues is imperative at this time of the year. There is no shame in asking for help! All good leaders know when it’s time to recruit. Just remember to assign task to those with appropriate skills. Follow-up with the individual(s) and agree on a deadline to complete the task. Always invite any questions there might be about the task. If possible, hire help...a cleaning service, grocery shoppers, dog walkers, any support you need to get you through the holidays. Once this is done move on to those things only you can do. DON’T leave the kids out.
5. Say No – Turning down an invitation to a holiday celebration or declining to give a present which is out of budget or is in some other way unacceptable can be hard. But being able to say no in a constructive and courteous way will go a long way to preserving relationships and relieving stress and overwhelm.
a. Here are a few ways to say no and hopefully preserve the relationship:
i. “Thanks so much for asking. Unfortunately, I am fully engaged that day, (that week or for the holiday)
ii. I would have loved to join you, but I made another commitment for that day (week or holiday).
iii. I’m afraid I’ve already set that time aside for (family, friends time to recover/prepare for/from the holidays.” But I might be able to do this with you (help you) next year with enough notice.
I hope these samples will help you will constructing ways to say no in a way that will not burn bridges.
6. Set a Budget and stick to it – I think this is the most important element in avoiding stress and overwhelm. As we all know holiday spending can quickly get out of hand. Without strict and constant monitoring it is very easy to go over budget. To avoid this from happening follow these strategies and you should be find on January 2, 2019.
b. Establish a overall budget to cover all related expenses on your list.
c. Break-out each category in detail. Include ingredients for all items on the menu including holiday candy!
d. Make your list as detailed as possible with a cost next to each item.
e. Carry a spreadsheet (shopping list) with you and a tally to deduct and check off each item and reduce cost of each item from the total budget for the holidays.
f. When you reach zero STOP shopping.
g. Using an excel spreadsheet or a similar software will help you to reallocate funds, if you over shop in one category or item, to keep you within your overall budget.
7. Self-Care - If possible, take some time off before and after the holidays. Definitely, schedule time for yourself. Even if you only take time: to walk, meditate, pray, nap, sit and relax or a hot bath. Make time for you to unwind. Also, do not neglect to continue any physician prescribe medication.
8. Don’t go overboard on anything!
Set limits and stick to them. If you can’t do this by yourself. Recruit someone you trust and respect to remind you of your commitment not to go overboard.
9. Finally, If you’re are going to be celebrating in a group and you anticipate the presence of someone you rather not share the holidays with, remember that you are not sharing the holidays with that person, you are sharing it with the people who matter to you. If it gets to uncomfortable move to another area and take someone with you who will listen to you vent. Then go back out all smiles and have happy thoughts because the day will end and you can control whether it’s a good memory or not. It take two to create an unholiday. Don’t participate!
Stress and overwhelm is self imposed. So, take control of the holiday season, don’t let the holiday season control you.