The holiday season is fast approaching and I am fully leaning in. As much as I love this time of year, I find it pretty stressful. Between family celebrations (my parents are divorced, plus I have in-laws), work parties, Friendsgivings, and – oh yeah – the normal day-to-day responsibilities of life, it’s easy to arrive at January 1st feeling burned out and needing a holiday from your holidays. Since it’s in my DNA to analyze stressful situations and identify a plan to make them go smoothly (and, dare I say, enjoyable), I’ve spent the last few holiday seasons figuring out how to manage the chaos in order to make it to New Years Day in one piece. Because it’s also in my DNA to share the wealth, below are my top four tips to embrace the holiday spirit while staying sane.
Plan it out.
In early November, take a look at your calendar and figure out what obligations you’re committing to for the rest of the year. For me, this includes several family get-togethers, an epic football rivalry game over Thanksgiving weekend (Go Blue!), work gatherings for my small team as well as our larger organization, Friendsgiving, and adopting a family.
Next, make your plan of attack – what food are you bringing, who do you need to buy gifts for, when is the best time to take PTO, and how will you get everywhere you need to be? If you’re hoping to show off your cooking skills on Thanksgiving, consider setting aside some time for a test-run. When it comes to gifts, I prefer making a giant spreadsheet with everyone I’m buying for, an estimated budget, and some ideas. Once you have everything on paper, you can make sure that the events ahead of you are in line with how you want to spend your time – remember you can always say “no” to things that don’t work for you.
Make time for yourself.
It seems like there is a direct correlation between the moment holiday music starts playing in stores, and when we ditch all of the good habits we’ve fostered over the previous 10 months of the year. What I’ve learned, though, is when I’m feeling chaotic inside, I can’t help but add to the chaos that goes on around me.
This holiday season, consider what self-care might look like for you. Whether it’s moving your body, eating vegetables, or spending less time on your phone, it’s important to treat yourself with respect so that you can bring your best self to the (Thanksgiving) table. I’m a huge fan of
Create a new tradition for yourself and your family.
I’m sentimental, and one of my favorite parts of the holiday season is how predictable it can be. My heart is happy when I think about the traditions my family has participated in since before I was born. A few years ago, my husband and I added our own special tradition that makes the holidays feel even more like us.
On Christmas Eve, between family gatherings (mine in the morning, his in the afternoon), we drive into Detroit and grab a drink at the bar in our old building. We watch the
Find the joy.
Take a breath and acknowledge, right now, that you don’t have control over how the holidays pan out. You can buy the most thoughtful gifts, and get your oil changed before your cross-state roadtrip, and meditate diligently every morning – and yet, something could still go wrong. That’s life, and if you’re able to embrace the chaos that it brings, you’ll have a far more pleasant experience than if you try to fight it. When everything seems to be going wrong, find humor in it. Laugh about the nonsense, and notice how things are always a bit lighter when we can find something to smile about. Lean into the chaos and find the joy within it. The best memories are made when we’re least expecting them.
There you have it, friends. I hope these tips are helpful for you as the temperatures get colder and the days get shorter. I’m wishing you a safe, happy, fun-when-you-embrace-the-chaos holiday season.