Inspired by the book Unplug the Christmas Machine, I've developed a few tactics for keeping the holidays the way they should be - fun. By limiting my to-do list and focusing on what I love about the season I've re-learned how to enjoy the days between Thanksgiving and New Year's. If this sounds appealing to you, here are a few tips to get started slowing down for the holidays.
Set a Budget
I know, I know; a budget seems like the least fun way to kick off the holidays, but it does make the post season much more enjoyable. You'd be amazed at how much better you will feel when you take out the stress of over spending. Decide how much you want to spend and stick to it as closely as you can.
Resurrect One of Your Favorite Holiday Traditions
Many of the holiday traditions I remember best were simple and inexpensive, if not free. Growing up we always watched the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve. It's a wonderful tradition that I'm glad I brought back.
Eliminate One of Your Least Favorite Holiday To-Dos
Make a list of everything you do during the holiday season from mailing packages to preparing black-eyed peas on New Year's Day. Decide which of these things you can scratch off your list and do it. If anyone squawks, you can pass that task on to them.
Evaluate Your Available Time
Be realistic about how much time you have for holiday activities. Take a look at what's already on your plate every day (work, child care, errands) and evaluate how much extra you can take on for holiday projects and events. Give yourself permission to say no to the things you don't have time for.
Set Aside Some Disconnect Time
For me spending time in the kitchen is a de-stressor. I turn off my phone, turn on my favorite music and immerse myself in baking. It's a wonderful way to "drop out" for a few hours and if I'm smart about it I'll end up with some tasty gifts. If cooking isn't your thing, choose an activity that you know will quiet your mind.
Wreaths Aren't Just for Doors
If you need a quick and easy table topper or centerpiece, a pre-decorated wreath is the way to go. Place a pillar candle and hurricane lamp shade in the center and you are done. Get more holiday ideas in my digital magazine Garden Home Style.