How to enjoy the holiday rather than just survive it.

I have seen so many advice columns and articles titled “how to survive the holidays.” I don’t want to simply survive and suffer through the entire month of December. I want to enjoy the time I get with my family and friends. Here are a few tricks to truly enjoy this holiday season.

Step One: Get over what happened during the holidays as a child. I hear so many people say they hate the holidays because every year their family got together and fought and didn’t speak until the following year. I’m sorry if you don’t have good childhood memories of the holidays but you are an adult now and can control how you spend your time. If you spend the holidays being bitter towards your family because every holiday sucks, you’re probably going to get in a fight and again the holiday is going to suck. Break the cycle and vow to have a good time.

Step Two: Make time to do the things you love. The holidays get so busy, it seems like there is something to go everyday which is why it’s important to pick and choose the things you really want to do. If you don’t like baking don’t agree to do a cookie exchange. You don’t have to say yes to everything you get invited to. I think people end up feeling so exhausted before the 25th even gets here simply because we are doing everything for everyone else. Sit down and make a list of the things you want to do this holiday season and make sure to write them on your calendar.

Step Three: Make a Schedule. I’m not big writing every detail of my life on my calendar except this time of the year. I have so much going on and I want to make sure I’ve got time for it all. I started writing things on my calendar in October and quickly realized that all my weekends from November 1st till New Years were spent. It was important for me to then pencil in all the activities that I wanted to do and make note of any openings for future invitations. This really helps me from feeling overwhelmed and keeps me from overbooking myself.

Step Four: Throw tradition out the window. Just because that’s what you’ve always done doesn’t mean it always has to be that way. If you loath a certain tradition every year why do you keep doing it? Again, make time for the things you want and not the things you don’t. Make sure you separate out what traditions you do because you love them and which ones you do out of obligation. Don’t skip out on an activity that you truly enjoy, I promise you will regret it, but don’t do things just because you feel obligated. Along these same lines, don’t aim to create new traditions, do the things you love and your family will have the best holiday memories; doing things out of obligation only creates hostility (See step one, don’t force your kids into doing things they hate, they will grow up to be one of those people that hates the holidays because of their childhood memories).

Step Five: Set Gift Giving Rules. This goes for everyone in your life. For the most part between friends I always tell people “I would much rather spend time with you than get a gift from you.” I often plan to see Zoo Lights or a tree lighting with my good friends and completely avoid the hassle of gift giving but make it clear up front, No Gifts. And with family set boundaries and spending limits. For the first few years I was married I felt like I was just exchanging money with my in-laws and Christmas shopping soon turned into the chore of what is she getting me? how much should i spend on them? not fun. A few years ago we set some rules and had much more fun shopping for each other. For a few years we simply said, each person gets one gift for everyone with a $20 spending limit. It was really a challenge to find a thoughtful useful gift for under $20 but we managed to give some pretty great gifts. Last year we decided to add a challenge and say the gift had to be under $20 AND somehow incorporate the person’s initials. I got an Adult coloring book, a Grey scarf, a Gummy bear key chain and so on…It was so much fun to open each gift and find out how the gift tied to our initials, some of them were a little bit of a stretch but it was hilarious none-the-less.

I hope these tips help you enjoy the holiday season a little bit more this year. I love holidays and all it comes with: family, food, travel, and presents and I hope you do too!

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