Declutter Your Holiday Season: Managing Time and Expectations

Today’s post is a guest post from Jennifer at Spirit Finder

The holiday season conjures up images of bucolic winter vistas and twinkling Christmas lights. Holiday parties abound and families get together to reminisce, exchange gifts and indulge in their favorite dishes and sweet delights. Many people arrange to take time off around the holidays, eagerly anticipating an end-of-the-year vacation. It’s a time that most of us look forward to with high expectations.

So why do so many people spend the holiday season stressed out? Shouldn’t our commitments and schedules be slowing down while our egg nog intake goes up? Too many drag their predilection for to-do lists into the holidays, judging themselves by how much they get done rather than simply slowing down and appreciating what they have. If you can’t help feeling guilty about having fun and relaxing during the holidays, then it’s time to try a new approach.

Minimize your commitments

Many people simply take on too much around the holidays. It’s a combination of wanting everything to be perfect and feeling like you have to pay it all back by volunteering your time. You don’t have to feel bad about taking on less responsibility. Slow down, assess what you can reasonably get done and take time to focus on you. Do something you really enjoy, just for yourself. Don’t be afraid to tell people you have too much going on right now: they’ll understand.

Get organized

Holiday shopping, cooking, planning parties and all that decorating make for a very busy time. Try getting organized before you dive into the holidays. This year, set up a special gift wrapping area at home with all the supplies you need within easy reach. That way, you’re not scrambling for the scotch tape or turning the house upside down looking for another bow or ribbon as you throw it all together at the last minute.

Don’t overdo tradition

The holidays are all about tradition. Lots of traditions. Consider letting go of one or two, especially if they’re too work-intensive and time-consuming. Preparing for Christmas and New Year’s is enough without having to worry about planning, cooking for and hosting an event just because someone decided it should be a tradition. They’re supposed to be fun, not sources of resentment and family strife.

Re-discover the meaning

People often feel depressed during the holidays because they can’t find real meaning in the commercialization of a season that’s supposed to be about giving. Volunteering can be a good way to re-discover the true spirit of the holidays. Consider volunteering at a local homeless shelter instead of an expensive Christmas dinner out with friends - you’ll feel great and save a little money for the holidays.

The decorating dilemma

Decorating for the holidays is another custom that can eat up lots of time, energy and money if you let it get out of control. It’s a good place to do some decluttering. Go through all the ornaments, lights and assorted Christmas gewgaws you’ve accumulated over the years and get rid of those that are broken or that no longer appeal to you. Don’t hang onto that “white elephant” ornament gift just because it came from your boss - toss it and use decorations that really add something to your home during the holidays. It’s a good way to make your home more functional and maximize your storage space by keeping decorations and other holiday items in easy-to-access areas.

Remember, there are only so many hours in a day. Before the holiday season gets into full swing, take a little time to reassess what it really means to you. Decide exactly how you want to allocate your time and effort so you’re not tempted to overdo it.