By Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN & Cindy Diccianni, RN, CSA
Has the anxiety over your holiday plans started yet? Have you got a knot
in your stomach at the thought of your mother-in-lawís cooking? Do you
feel the pain in your pocket at the thought of all of the money youíll
If this sounds familiar, take heart in the fact that you are not alone.
You are among tens of thousands of people who start to feel pangs of
dread descending upon them and stress levels rising as the holidays
approach. You may wonder if all this holiday fuss is worth it as you
consider all of the things that need to be done, schedules to
coordinate, people to see, phone calls to make, cards to send, food to
cook and purchases to make. If youíre like many, you canít wait until
the holidays are over. But youíve forgotten the essential ingredient of
the holidays Ė magic. By choosing to get bogged down by the myriad of
details, youíre not experiencing the true meaning of the holidays.
Yes, you made the choices that created your previous holiday
experiences. The good news is that if you werenít happy with your past
experiences, you can choose to do things differently. You work so hard
all year long; there is no reason to stress about the holidays. This
year, make the holidays meaningful by exploring new possibilities for a
holiday filled with peace and joy. By starting new traditions, you bring
magic into the season.
Here are ten steps for creating a magical holiday season.
1. Consider what your perfect holiday would look like.
Start with the end in mind by visualizing what would
bring you the most joy and fulfillment. Who would you spend time with?
Would you cook, go out or carry out? Also, consider what you want the
holidays to mean to you.
2. Choose to do only those things that you really enjoy
(and eliminate the things you donít).
Yes, you do have a choice. If every year your in-laws
give you grief, consider letting your spouse go by his/herself and you
go to your parents alone. Or, you can limit the amount of time you spend
there. The point is you can decide to do the holiday things that bring
you the most joy.
3. Create new traditions that feel good.
If every year you cook for 50 people and your ideal
holiday would have you cooking for only 10 people, then do it! Let
everyone know that this year you will be creating a new tradition. Or,
it may be time to consider rotating the cooking responsibility to
another family member.
Consider your volunteer activities and assisting at a
soup kitchen either alone or as a family project. The best way to add
meaning to the holidays is to do something for those less fortunate.
Youíll also be more grateful for what you have.
4. Communicate with your family, friends and coworkers
about their ideal holiday.
Invite their input so they can participate in creating a
magical holiday. Without family and friends, itís not much of a holiday
season. Consider foregoing gifts this year and arranging to spend
quality time together. Perhaps you could decide on a project or
volunteer activity that would bring everyone together and add meaning
rather than buying gifts that no one really needs anyway.
5. Plan ahead.
Start planning in advance by creating a list of the
things you may need for your holiday. The more organized you are, the
less stress you will experience and the more fun you can make even the
most mundane activities (like having the children stamp letters!) Youíll
also want to plan your volunteer activities early.
6. Create a budget.
Consider the total amount of money you want to spend
this holiday. Write it down. If you have trouble deciding on an amount,
look at what you spent last year. Create a list identifying who gets
gifts and how much to spend for each person. If you donít have the money
to spend, donít go into debt. Consider baking or crafting something for
the special people in your life. No one expects you to spend your
retirement money on gifts. Know your limit!
7. Stay within your limit.
Take care of your spending by closely watching each
dollar you spend. Creating a budget does no good unless you are willing
to stick to it. Keep track of all expenditures by creating a simple
spreadsheet. Every item including gifts, cards, wrapping paper,
ornaments, lights, etc. adds to the total cost of your holiday. Donít
let holidays become an excuse to go on a spending spree! By being more
careful as to the purchases you do make, you may find enough money to
take an extra vacation next year or make an extra mortgage payment.
Our society creates the false belief that we must
purchase something for everyone we come in contact with throughout the
entire year. You can choose to not buy into this belief. Make donations
in the names of friends and family members. Refuse to spend your money
frivolously Ė you work too hard for every dollar you earn to waste any
8. Limit your use of credit cards.
If you use cash for all of your purchases, youíll be
less likely to overspend.
9. Keep it simple.
The holidays need not be complicated and overwhelming.
If you feel yourself getting stressed, look for the source of your
physical or emotional resistance. Attempting to do too much or to be all
things to all people will not bring magic into your life. Keep it
simple. Seek to please yourself.
10. Think fun!
Make decisions of how to spend your time based on where
youíll have the most fun. If youíre thinking of having fun, thereís not
much room for stress.
Create meaning and personal fulfillment by paying close attention to
what brings you the most joy. Talk with your family, friends and
coworkers about what worked and what youíd like to do different next
year. Focus on having fun and keeping it simple.
This year, choose to create a magical holiday, one that creates the
kinds of memories that last a lifetime. Make this your best holiday