Last week I began looking at holiday stress and how to reduce it. It's a real fact of life for many of us. It's too easy to become so wrapped up (ha! see what I did there?) in the busy-ness of getting things done that we don't enjoy the season. So last week I discussed some of the things I do to help cut down onthe flusteriness (it's my word and I like it) of the holidays.
(If you haven't read that, you can find it here: Do's for Reducing Holiday Stress.) This week I want to tell you about some of the things I don't do. These are things that I have cut out from the holiday season altogether, because they were causing too much stress for me. You might be secretly wishing to do away with some of these yourself!
Things I DON'T DO which, because they don't have to be done, relieve holiday stress:
1) Christmas cards, newsletters, photos, etc. — Guess what? I don't do them anymore. It was a big expense, because we've moved around so many times that we have a long mailing list. Just buying the stamps was a big stress-inducer for me! Not to mention composing a newsletter and formatting it (I never felt like it was worth doing just to send a photo with a “Love, the K's” on it), addressing all the envelopes, and making sure it was all done in time for people to receive it before Christmas. Finally one year I just never got around to it — and have never looked back. Now with Facebook and other social media, I am keeping up with most of the people I want to, anyway.
2) Cookies and other baking — I hate cooking, y'all. And baking is a close second. So do I slave over a hot oven to provide dozens of cookies for the holiday season? No, I do not. I either delegate the task to children that are old enough, or I don't do it. Do we need all that sugar, anyway? No we don't, and neither do the kids. Of course we all have memories of all the cookies our moms used to make; but that is no reason to spend mondo time doing something that we don't enjoy. Our kids don't want cookies served by a cranky mommy, believe me. If I really need the stuff, I buy it — which usually costs not much more than all those ingredients, anyway. I give you permission to do the same.
3) Secret Santas or cookie exchanges — I just say no. The people at the office or the gals at church can think what they want; I always fail at keeping up with the Secret Santa gifts, and the cookie exchange thing is never worth the time and effort it takes to buy the ingredients, do the baking, and package them up. So I just don't do them anymore. There comes a time when we have to stop worrying about how we will be perceived and keep our lives at a level that is manageable for us.
4) Decorate big. We have a collection of things that we've acquired over the years or are family heirlooms, and we pretty much stick with that. I don't head out to the stores every year to add to the quantity — so no rushing to find sales or stressing about making things match. We decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving, in bits of time here and there, while everyone is home to help. Less to put up means less to clean around and less to take down, organize, and put away later.
As for lights, the hubby is in charge of that. Delegation is everything, my friends… :-)
5) Get a real tree. These days the cost alone is enough to give me a panic attack. Then there's finding a good one, getting it home, cutting it so it fits in the stand, making sure it doesn't tilt, keeping the stand filled with water… of course the smell is wonderful but I can use a candle for that. Every year we just pull out our artificial tree that I got at the thrift store for $5 (and we've been using it for over 5 years — so that's less than a dollar a year. Can't complain about that!). We can do this anytime we want, without having to plan a big expedition. It holds the ornaments just as well as a real one. :-)
6) Shop on Black Friday. OK, I take that back — we did go out on Black Friday last year. It was the first year in basically forever, and I think I had forgotten how much it stresses me out — because boy, did I get stressed. I am NOT doing that again. Obviously we went with a particular purchase in mind, but fighting the crowds, finding my way through a store that had been turned into a maze of product boxes overnight, always fearing they would be out of stock by the time I got to the head of the line — nope. Not for me. These days you can get the same price online without ever leaving the comfort of your home. Sounds like my kinda deal.
Do I sound like a Scrooge? I hope not. I see it as choosing to spend my time and energy on the things that really matter to me and my family, and streamlining everything else. When I stop trying to keep up with outside expectations of what I “should be doing” during the holiday season, I am a much more pleasant person to be around. In fact, holiday stress is not really a big factor in my life anymore. Gotta love that! :-)
What things do you DO or DON'T DO that help reduce your holiday stress?