Looking back on my blog history, I confirmed that I posted this piece, in one dress or another, both in 2011 and 2013. It is time to trot it out again. We all need reminders to keep the holidays sane.
National Stress-Free Holiday Month - is there such a thing as a stress-free December? Many people have begun to simplify the whole process in several ways. Some of these suggestions might work for you.
Here’s a good topic: Decorations. To do or overdo, that is really up to you. Paring down your possessions throughout the year is the perfect strategy for cutting down on the holiday ornamentation. Pass on some of their favorite ornaments to your children and grandchildren. (They make great holiday gifts.) It can be counterproductive and a great deal of work to use all your decorative pieces just because you always have. Toss out or give away all but the real treasures you look forward to seeing again each year. To pare down even further, consider using more candles that can be used throughout the year, and fresh flowers that are very colorful but don’t require future storage.
Think about lowering your electric bill and eliminating the hassle of storing, sorting and installing outdoor lights and decorations. Select a great wreath for your front door and remember to leave the porch light on every evening until you go to bed.
Of course, the Gifts. If you’re at the base of a very large family tree you might be having a hard time just thinking of suitable gifts for everyone on those branches and twigs. It’s no longer fun when it becomes a chore going out to buy, and then wrap, and perhaps mail the gifts, or when the monetary end of it gets out of hand, especially for those on a fixed income.
Some families stop giving gifts to those married or over twenty-one, those no longer children. Some families pull names for an adult grab bag swap, in others they exchange gifts under a certain dollar amount. In many families they’ve eliminated gifts for all but those in their own households - after all, is it great fun to open them. Instead, they make a charitable contribution in the name of the whole family.
Next: Cards or Letters. Some have opted out of the holiday mailings, but if you haven’t, whichever you choose to send, you can make life easier for yourself by tackling the job early. Right after the holidays, update your card list (be ruthless!), then save money by buying your cards at the January sales. Begin working on your holiday letter as the newsworthy events occur. Start writing the cards and finish the holiday letter just after Thanksgiving. Sounds easy and, when you start early and stick to it, it is.
Last but not least in our hearts: Food!! Are you still cooking the whole meal from soup to nuts? You are either a glutton for punishment or someone who really, really loves to cook. Let some of the younger generation start to hone their culinary skills. Pass the torch, and then promise to bring along your specialty: the family favorite appetizer, zesty carrots, or praline pumpkin pie. How’s that for stress-free?
Many families are choosing to have their major holiday feast cooked by others. Some have it catered and brought to the house - a great idea, but there is still the clean-up to be done. Others go all out and eat out. Many like to have a festive restaurant meal on the night before their holiday, then rest and recuperate and open some presents the next day. Many must have the main meal on the main day. Either way, you can use Google to search for restaurants in our area that will be open on the various holidays. This is the least work, the least worry all ‘round.
December is a month for all - enjoy all thirty-one days! You can do it!