Tips for the Holidays

Categories: Family, Holidays, Stress, and Transitions / Change.

Think about the following questions, and take some time to come up with your answers.  What’s most meaningful to you about the holidays?  What would your Thanksgiving and Christmas be like if they were truly wonderful?  What makes it all worth it? Many say that what makes it wonderful is time to enjoy relationships with family and friends, a time to refocus on what’s really important, celebrating Jesus’ birth, doing good for others, and so on. 

On the other hand, what often makes your holiday time take a turn for the worse?  Could it be too much time with family and friends?  A lack of time to focus on what’s really important?   keeping a hectic holiday schedule on top of “normal” life?  The reason most people think the Chevy Chase movie “Christmas Vacation” is so funny is that it hits so close to home.  We can relate!  We all build up our expectations for the “most wonderful time of the year” and get frustrated when it doesn’t happen just like we’ve imagined.   

To avoid a Chevy Chase Christmas and have a great holiday time, here are some key tips to keep in mind that will help you get through with your mind and your family intact:

  • Take responsibility for your own expectations, choices, and emotions.  If you are “dreaming of a White Christmas” and it doesn’t happen, don’t ruin other people’s holiday with your bad mood.  Sometimes there is pressure from family to do more than you are willing or able to do.  If you decide to do it, then own that decision and do it with a good attitude.
  • Work for “good enough” in planning, preparing, cleaning, and decorating.  Perfection won’t happen and other people aren’t going to notice.
  • Don’t skimp on sleep, good nutrition, and exercise.  You have to keep these going in order to make it through!
  • Be realistic about what you can commit to in your schedule.  Learn how to say “NO” to some things.  Give up on trying to make everyone happy.  If you can make most of the people satisfied, you are doing great.
  • It’s OK if your kids don’t get everything they want.  In fact, it’s best if you can encourage your kids to think of others during this time.  Take them to help bring food to an elderly neighbor that is lonely.  Take them shopping for “Toys for Tots.”  This will help them to develop the “Spirit of the Season” rather than a “Me, Me, Me” focus.
  • If you have guests that can’t take a hint to leave, be assertive.  Have a plan if you know Cousin Harold stays too late and drinks too much.   A plan that will get him out on time and sober.
  • Grief – It’s very normal to experience grief of a lost loved one during the holidays.  This can make the holiday time “bittersweet.”  Take some time to allow yourself to go through the grief.  Talk about it.  Honor the person you have lost in  a way that seems fitting during the holiday.
  • Old family rifts – don’t use the holidays as an opportunity to create an intervention or confront a longstanding beef you’ve got with someone.  Wait until January.
  • Money – make a budget for your holiday spending.  If you binge too much in December, you’ll have a financial hangover waiting in January. 
  • When it’s all over and done with, refuse to get depressed or go into the “winter blues.”  Treasure the memories you’ve created, and take all the good you can from Thanksgiving and Christmas moments.    Avoid focusing on the climax moment of the gift frenzy and instead focus on the relationships you have.  Be mindful of the lives that have touched yours, and how you can bless others during this time.  If you do this, you’ll enjoy your holidays immensely. 

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year “

                                                       ~ Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”


  1. b ward

    Your tips for holidays cover a wide area of actions and thoughts. good article and very timely! One idea I could mention is that when people are in frame of mind to consider and help other people at the time of year from Thanksgiving through Christmas, it would be quite beneficial to many to just continue on with helping the same people through the following months. When people don’t have family or friends to be with through the holidays , they still have the same needs afterwards.
    I agree, that a person someitmes has to accept less than perfect and it will create a more relaxed atmosphere.
    thank you

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