Stress Free Holiday Tips (no really!)

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A friend posted a picture the other day that showed Halloween decorations on the left side of the aisle and Christmas decorations on the right. I guess we are skipping Thanksgiving this year! Except, when did having to buy a ton of stuff and decorate automatically give you Holiday spirit? I’ve always loved getting some pumpkins or beautiful multi-colored corn, maybe a bale of hay…I live in the city so the hay won't work, but definitely I can definitely get some pumpkins. 

I’ve stepped away from the holiday’s in a big way. I don’t buy any decorations, I make minimal plans, and I barely buy any presents. I also stopped buying wrapping paper years ago and I save gift bags over the year and simply use brown grocery bags to wrap presents. 

I reached this point because I used to go in debt every holiday season, and hey guess what, it never got paid off and it just kept accumulating. For years I would get sick every holiday. I was run ragged and worn down. The not taking care of myself thing got really old.

So I asked myself what do I want from the holidays? Friends and family. That was it. I wanted to be able to see my family without feeling anxiety about having purchased the perfect present and I wanted to share the season with my dear friends.

It took a few years to reach that point! Change doesn’t happen overnight, but this year I’m embracing the holidays (albeit a little gingerly) and I don’t have the dread I normally feel taking up residence in my stomach.

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Here are a few things that I did:

  • I bought a fake tree. This was a really hard decision to make because I love Christmas trees, but I reached the point where it took so much time, effort and money. So, I bought a fabulous vintage silver 1950s tinsel tree. Because I miss that Christmas tree smell I buy some greenery and decorate my fireplace mantel with it. 
  • I stopped going to all the parties. I really narrowed this down and instead of going to parties I choose intimate dinners with friends, or a good old fashioned movie night.
  • Years ago I insisted that we buy pizza for Christmas eve because we would have a huge dinner Christmas eve, brunch Christmas day and Christmas day dinner and we spent all the time in the kitchen and no time hanging out with family or watching the Christmas parade or cartoons!!
  • I stopped buying everyone Christmas presents. This became kind of the norm with my friends. I mentioned to a couple of people that I was on a tight budget and really cutting back on present buying. I whittled my list down to 3-5 people. My cousin and I had a great talk about not exchanging gifts and instead I buy her son a little something extra. We loved giving each other gifts but we both recognized that keeping the budget in check was more important.

It seems strange to be talking about the holidays this early, but every year I forgot to share this message. Just because it is the tradition doesn’t mean that you can’t change the tradition.

Give yourself permission to choose your own health and happiness. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. And Happy Holidays.

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