9 Ways to have a happy holiday season for everyone – including you!Nov 14, 2021
Does this sound familiar?
You want to create the perfect holiday. You found decor ideas on Pinterest and couldn’t wait to try the new recipe for making a Christmas tree out of breadsticks. You’ve gone shopping and were ready to create some holiday magic. You were just about to unpack all the things and were imagining a night of family time creating at the dining room table, with Pentatonix Holiday station from Spotify playing in the background.
Only one problem.
Your daughter needs help with her science project. Tonight. No, it can’t wait. Yes, she knew about it but she forgot.
Cancel the breadstick Christmas tree. Get out the baking soda and vinegar for the volcano you are going to make instead.
You throw your head back, look at the ceiling, breath in loudly through your nose, and even more loudly sigh, blowing the air out while you clench your fists. You think to yourself, “Is it too much to ask to have a few minutes to even unpack the supplies?!? Gah!! What was I even thinking that we could do something *I* wanted to do?!”
You feel heat in your face and your heart begins to pound. You are just about to explode when you notice the tear beginning to pool in your daughter’s right eye, the crumple of her chin, and the quiver in her lip. “OMG”, you think to yourself. “I’m such a jerk.”
Hold on just a second. I get it.
No judgment. You aren’t crazy. You aren’t a bad person.
I’ve been there: spread too thin, no more bandwidth, zero capacity for any more surprises or crushed expectations. Now, add the stress of the holidays. It can be a recipe for meltdowns.
Here are some of the reasons why I’ve reacted that way, and maybe you’ll relate.
We do so much for other people because we REALLY do feel generous. AND, we really want them to see us. Feeling invisible really starts to irritate us after a while. It leads to feeling unappreciated and taken advantage of.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Try any of the things on this list and they WILL help. Try them all for a dynamite holiday season!
9 ways to have a happy holiday season for everyone – including you.
- Manage your own energy. Take care of yourself. It’s like the proverbial oxygen mask. It’s SO important I created a free downloadable PDF checklist on ways to feel better fast and have/protect your energy. Download that here.
- Set expectations. Identify what’s most important and communicate that to your loved ones. Be clear with your expectations. It isn’t selfish. You are giving your loved ones a target to aim at. Silent expectations and assumptions are a guarantee for disappointment.
- Manage communication effectively. The holidays bring out the best and worst in us. If you are concerned about something, work out a script ahead of time or make a plan. For example, if you aren’t yet comfortable hugging since COVID, let your family know. “We’re so excited to see you! We are only bumping elbows this year and not hugging this Thanksgiving. See you Thursday!” Or maybe yours sounds like, “We can’t wait to see you and spend a couple of hours together!! We plan to arrive at 3 and head home by 6 so we can have our traditional family game night”. Be clear. Be direct.
- Be proactive with hot button issues. Prevent conflict or – if there’s no way to prevent it – protect yourself. For example, if your mother-in-law always volunteers to do the dishes but explodes in an exhausted fit at the end of the night saying no one helps her, don’t let her be the only one in the kitchen working. Plan to help with the dishes. Or prevent the fight over who got the last of the whipped cream for the pumpkin pie, buy extra whipped cream. Meeting people where they are is a GOOD thing. Trying to change someone – especially around the holidays – never works.
- Avoid food as a holiday trigger. Three things. If you are going somewhere, rather than being disappointed in food choices or choosing to stay home because it’s just too hard to find something to eat, bring your own food that fits your preferences. Let your host know you’re bringing your famous brussel sprouts with bacon. She’ll probably be glad for the help. If you are the one hosting, you don’t have to exhaust yourself cooking for your vegan/keto/gluten-free guests with 3 different entrees. Lay out the menus you want, clearly communicate what will be served and invite people to bring/make/buy anything else they want. Dealing with food pushers doesn’t have to be hard. Practice your script. “I love your pumpkin pie! I’ll be only smelling it this year because I’m cutting back on sugar” or “none for me, thanks, but it smells great!” This comes back to clear communication and setting expectations.
- Comfort yourself before you need comforting.You might find yourself looking forward to the dark or cold days of winter: fuzzy blankets, yummy candles, twinkling lights, cozy socks, a fire in the fireplace, a warm drink in your hand. It may be cold and dark outside, but you can make it warm and light inside. Self-soothing is a great practice!!
- Rest and recreate. If you aren’t doing things for fun, you are going to run out of juice. Let’s break down the word “recreate”. RE – create. By recreating, you are giving yourself new energy. Sleep is good, too. But if that’s the only rest you’re getting, it isn’t enough. Play is important!
- Don’t be alone or invisible (unless you *want* to be alone). A lot of us are deeply afraid of being alone or worse – lonely even surrounded by people. Make plans – having something to look forward to helps. Let people know you are looking for somewhere to go and things to do over the holidays. Don’t know anyone? Look for a charity that needs some help. Being in service always feels good and can get you around people. Take yourself for a lovely meal out. Tap into community or church events near you. Worried you might feel invisible even though you are surrounded by people? Be brave, let people know what you need.
- Overwhelm. How can I get it all done? Set expectations for your family around what you have the ability to provide. Ask your family what 1-2 things make the holidays most important to them. The family will appreciate it because it will help them distill down what is most meaningful. Simply said, don’t do it all. Pick what’s most important and do that.