The holiday season is officially here, and with that comes the opportunity for lots of festive gatherings, family traditions, and other Christmas activities. They’re all good things, but if we’re not careful they can take over the calendar and leave us feeling overwhelmed and robbed of the real spirit of the season.
The problem with Christmas events and traditions is that none of them sound like something we actually want to opt out of. Cookie exchange? Of course. Nutcracker downtown with friends? Wouldn’t miss it. Annual Christmas party that you’ve done for a decade? Without question.
But friend, you have to start evaluating everything and planning the season in advance so it won’t get away from you. You have to know your limits, identify your priorities, and let go of your FOMO. Here’s how:
1) Pencil in your “must-do” activities. Don’t just give something calendar time because you do it every year and you feel obligated – only include the things that you love and deserve your precious time. For our family we schedule time for our annual family gatherings, a couple of friend get-togethers, and identify the week we’ll be working on our gingerbread house. Before you put anything else on the calendar, carve out time for the “must-do” activities, then build in other activities around them.
2) Know your limits. If your family falls apart when your weekends have social commitments on both Saturdays and Sundays, commit to only one event per weekend. If you’ve got school-aged kids who have to get up early during the week, don’t commit to weeknight events that will keep them up late. If you’re pinching pennies, set a dollar amount per event and stick to it. Set non-negotiable parameters that will help you evaluate opportunities as they arise and weed out some that will cause too much disruption to your schedule.
3) Make criteria to prioritize new invitations. Aside from the practical limits you put on your calendar, think about what other criteria might help you pare things down. One year our family skipped several longstanding annual events in favor of prioritizing small, intimate, relationship-affirming get-togethers with close friends. Initially it was hard to know we were missing out on some big, fun traditional gatherings but it turned out to be one of the best Christmas seasons ever – and when all was said and done we didn’t regret a thing.
4) Don’t make a commitment without consulting your team. Don’t feel pressure to commit to an invitation on the spot. The Christmas season belongs to your whole family – not just you. Chat with everyone in your family and decide together which activities you’ll do, and which you’ll skip. One year my kids surprised me by not wanting to look at Christmas lights. You can’t do it all – and these conversations can help you trim down your to-dos.
5) Don’t feel guilty about saying “no.” Stop accepting invites out of guilt. If you have to turn down an invitation with someone you really want to spend time with, invite them to join you to do something that’s already on the calendar. You don’t have to have a “good excuse” or a prior commitment to say “no.” It’s a complete sentence and allows you to leave space to breathe, to relax, and to really enjoy the holidays – not be stressed out by them.
What’s your one tip to keep your calendar from getting overwhelmed during the holidays?
Read more of Kristina’s contributions to allmomdoes here.