Ready to organize your best holiday season ever? Don’t let stress and over-booking prevent your holiday from being joyous; instead, follow these steps to a season that incorporates all of what you love.
What do you most look forward to as the holiday season approaches?
For some people, that question sends them into a cold sweat! They start feeling overwhelmed even before the first light goes up.
If that’s you, I want to change your experience so the holiday season gets its sparkle back. And if you don’t suffer seasonal stress, these simple steps will still help you get organized for your best holiday ever! But first, it helps if you get in the right frame of mind.
Your holiday happens one day at a time
Did you know that our brain sometimes works against us? Meditation teacher Matthew Hepburn, in a recent interview on the Ten Percent Happier meditation podcast, described that it’s like the brain gathers all the activities, events and pressures we’re anticipating and tries to feel it all at once. That’s super stressful!
But when we create a loose game plan for what matters most, and then focus on one thing at a time, it’s easier to let go, enjoy ourselves—and even be more productive.
Since the whole reason for the holidays is to give thanks, spread cheer, and honor our beliefs and traditions, let’s start with how we want to celebrate our blessings and the people we love.
Design your dream holiday season
Organizing anything is easier when you have a vision. So, grab a cup of cocoa and dream a little! Imagine your favorite parts of past holiday seasons, and put each important item on its own sticky note. (As you complete them, stick on a wall.) For instance, what…
- do you most love to do and see? What smells, tastes and sounds bring joy—and what has to happen to make them real?
- people do you most want to be with (or to find ways to remember)?
- would an ideal holiday season look and feel like to you and your family?
IMPORTANT: If traditions or routines come to mind that you want to AVOID this year, put those on notes too—preferably of a different color or with a different color marker.
Finally, how much time do you want to set aside for each? Are you someone who loves to go all out on decorative gift wrapping? Will cookie prep take four days or just a trip to the grocery store? Add estimated times to each note.
TIP: If holiday spending could use a little organization too, add budget numbers.
Organize your best holiday season ever
Now that you’ve got a dream list, it’s time to help it become reality.
On the same wall, start shifting the post-it’s into three columns, one for each of the major intervals of the season:
- PRE: the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanzaa;
- DAY(S) OF: the major day(s) themselves;
- POST: the weeks post-holiday through the first week of January.
Sort your post-its according to when you’d like these activities to happen.
Remember, much as we may WANT to do everything, we have a limited amount of time (and money), each season—and so do our family and friends. When you see how your weeks are filling up, it will become easier to make decisions about what stays, what shifts, and what goes.
Next, get out your calendar and actually schedule the events, or time blocks for the activities, that are most important to you.
TIP: Leave some empty blocks for spontaneity—or just time to chill.
Help yourself (and others) let go
Last but not least, it’s time to tackle that stack of “avoid” stickies. Some may be easy to let go of. But others may bring up mixed emotions. Maybe you don’t want to include them, but know others will be disappointed or angry if you cross them off your holiday list.
Whenever I’m working with clients on emotionally-charged decisions like this (downsizing, for instance), we start by weighing the costs and benefits, and then brainstorming options:
- What do you gain by keeping this on your holiday list? What do you gain by dropping it?
- If it matters but you are maxed out, is there someone else who can take over?
- Is there a way to incorporate the spirit of the activity, but make it less time or energy intensive? Can you hire someone to help?
Organizing your best holiday ever isn’t something that has to take a lot of time. But those few minutes you take to block out time for your biggest joys, and decide how to take control of your stressors, will help the holidays be more personalized, fun, and fulfilling. If you need some help organizing your holiday clutter—mental or the “stuff”—just give me a call!