December is usually a busy time for meeting planners, so any breathing space you can carve out for yourself is a wise idea. Here are a few suggestions for your everyday life and your holidays. (Even looking at sleepy kittens should be relaxing, right?)
- On each of the 12 days of Christmas or eight days of Hanukkah, tackle one shelf, drawer or closet and put it all in order.
- Spend a few minutes, if you haven’t already, contemplating what gifts you’re going to buy and who’s on your list. Put it in writing and take it with you. This will help keep you focused and less likely to get overwhelmed once you’re inside the stores.
- Shop at stores in small commercial strips or with freestanding locations instead of being buffeted by crowds at the mall.
- Order by mail if you have time, but ask that your name be kept off the vendors’ direct mail lists. Receiving unwanted catalogs all year long diminishes your breathing space and is unkind to landfills.
- Reduce the strain of carrying large bundles by choosing smaller-sized gifts such as jewelry and CDs.
- Shop on Monday, Tuesday or evenings. Avoid the weekends.
- Give yourself frequent breaks while shopping. It’s not a marathon event, and there is absolutely no reason to make shopping for friends and loved ones anything but joyful. So lighten up!
- If stores offer gift wrapping, have them do it, even if it costs a little something. You’ll know it was the right decision when you get home and realize you have one less thing to do.
- If you find something that would please many people on your list, maybe chocolates or a book, buy quantities in one transaction to reduce overall shopping time.
- Make your shopping count three or four times when buying holiday gifts and cards.Think of who’s having a wedding, birthday or baby. Planning ahead may mean doing a little additional shopping now, but you’ll avoid many more trips in January, February and March.
- When you get the packages home, take them to your table or desk to complete the shopping trip. Remove tags and stickers, file invoices, wrap items, mail some and store others.
- Designate one evening just for greeting cards. Send them the same evening so they’re out of the way and en route.
- Alternately, if you dread the thought of tackling all your holiday cards at once, set a goal of writing, addressing and sending five or 10 each day.
- Include a family snapshot in your cards, particularly to those you haven’t seen in years.
- Look back once more at last year’s resolutions. Congratulate yourself for sticking with them and ponder new ones.
- Go food shopping for the incidentals such as canned cranberry sauce, soft drinks and napkins long before you nned them. You can hide them, they’ll keep, and you’ll have far less to be concerned about.
- Avoid time in a hot kitchen by taking friends out to dinner and return to your home for dessert and drinks.
- Ask your supermarket about holiday platters, precooked dinner packages and delivery.
- If guests ask what they can bring, tell them!
- Consider hiring part-time domestic help. It’s worth $30 or so to actually enjoy the holidays. College kids home on vacation and people not of your faith may be readily available.
- If necessary, line up a designated driver for yourself and/or your guests.
And, finally, enjoy!
- Remember, you’re in charge of what kind of holiday you’ll have, not Madison Avenue, not Currier and Ives or any other manufactured notion of what your life should include.
- Get several good physical workouts in right before the holidays so you’ll have a reserve built up to eat, drink and be merry.
- Choose to feel good about the year you’ve had and the potential that the new year holds.
- Sleep late.