By Dave Ulacia
In our ongoing effort to help you get organized in 2010, we asked our Facebook followers, “What is the one thing that consistently stresses you out BIG time during the holidays?” We got several answers, but most were centered on time, family, and managing the budget. Here are some examples:
“Too Much to do and too little time.”
“Keeping track of all the parties and staying on budget.”
“Getting the family together. I have a brother who is out of state and a sister who lives 6 hours away and my parents are in Mexico.”
“Budget. Budget. Budget. Making the most of what little there is going to be this year.”
Hopefully this article will help address each of these concerns. The holiday season is a time to focus on what’s most important—time with family and friends. It’s a time of traditions and sweet temptations, a time for quiet reflection and raucous fun. But all of this can be overdone. Hopefully these easy tips will help make your holiday season less overwhelming and a little more fun.
Make a List and Check it Twice
If there ever were a time to make a list and check it twice, it would be during the holidays. Make several lists—not just for gifts, but also lists of local events, parties for extended family, and traditions you want to carry out with your immediate family. List each item by priority, and schedule the most important ones first. Don’t be afraid to turn some invitations down. If you have a conflict with one event and another with a higher priority, simply apologize and say you’re busy that night. We’re all busy, they’ll understand.
The Calendar is Your Best Friend
Mark important events on your calendar early, so nothing else can crowd them out. Then make sure you have plenty of open space for any spur-of-the-moment fun that might come up. See? Even being spontaneous takes planning.
Getting the Family Together
Being home for the holidays is so important, there are several songs about it, and most people try to find a way to do it. If you haven’t purchased your plane tickets, do it now. You may already be too late for the best rates, but you can be sure they’re just going to get more costly between now and then.
When you finally do get together, it’s easy to lose patience with those you care about most. It’s a typical symptom of cramped quarters and high holiday expectations. Try to put yourself in the shoes of the person who is aggravating you and be patient.
When You Can’t Get Together
Sometimes it’s just not possible to get together under the same roof for the holidays. Get creative. We can all be grateful for telephones, webcams, photos and email that help us stay connected. They may not be the most ideal connections, but they’re certainly better than spending the holiday alone.
Don’t Celebrate by Yourself
It doesn’t take long to find people who could use some company. If you can’t make it home this season, get together with others who are alone and share the spirit of the season with them. Who knows? It may end up being one of your greatest holiday memories.
Don’t Over Schedule
Now that you’ve prioritized and scheduled the events you plan to participate in this year, be careful not to add more. An occasional item here and there is okay, but don’t bury yourself in things that you can avoid. Remember your first priority is time with your loved ones, and usually the best time is unscheduled and free. When else are you going to play board games, watch movies, and dip chocolates?
Mind Your Budget
Trust us. Your friends and family don’t want you to go into debt just so you can give them a gift. No gift is worth the worry of debt. If your budget is smaller than you would like, think small. There are several things you can do that don’t cost much. For example: consider giving a child a coupon that is good for one trip to the ice cream shop or a game of bowling. It’s a simple gift that is sure to be appreciated.
Set a Spending Limit
Give yourself a limit on how much you’re going to spend this year, and be sure you don’t go over. There are precious few holiday gifts that anyone remembers and even fewer that last. Don’t get caught up in the commercialism so much that you lose track of your main priorities—uninterrupted time with family. Your time is more valuable than anything you could give them. In all your budgeting, make sure you allot enough of your time to enjoy the season without feeling hurried.
These suggestions are just a few ways to stay sane and enjoy your holiday season. We’re sure you have other suggestions that we didn’t mention. We’d love to hear from you. Just leave a comment below.
And Happy Organizing!
What’s most important to you during the holidays? Friends? Gifts? Family? Vacation? Post your comments!