If you’re like most folks, the thought of the upcoming holidays fills you with equal parts of excitement and dread!



Who doesn’t relish the idea of parties, gifts, decorations and family get togethers?  But let’s be honest: there’s a part of you that stresses out…so much to prepare, to buy, to decorate, to bake, to wrap…you name it!  Do you find the hustle and bustle exhausting?  Would you prefer a lower key yet meaningful celebration?

Let’s take five and think about how we can plan for the season without losing our composure.  Consider incorporating the following four practices into your daily routine. After all, regardless of your religious or spiritual beliefs, it’s a sacred time to truly focus on what matters most….to you!

1.  Say No to Pinterest Perfection


It’s so easy to want everything to be just right. 

From the tree and the home decorations to the presents and the menu.  It seems there’s an expectation for each facet to be perfect.  Or else it falls short.  But why does it have to be one or the other? There’s nothing wrong with having a realistic vision of your gatherings.

So what if the tree is a little crooked?  Who cares if your hand towels don’t sport holiday motifs?  If friend and family time is what matters most to you, then allow yourself to have things casual.  When you plan for the comfort of your guests instead of the fancy wow of your decor, you’ll be less tense.

In fact, as you haul out your holiday decor, consider paring down your collection.plan  This would be an ideal time to approach your adult children about selecting which items they would love to receive for their own home.  Just remember: if they say no, don’t take it personally!  Their taste may be different or they may truly want to keep their own decor on the minimalist side, as well.

When you retain only your favorites, your set up and take down routine will be easier.  And every item will be sure to bring joy when they’re displayed.


People may compliment a well coordinated theme.  But the genuine fellowship is what they will remember long after the party has ended.

2.  Prepare for Retail Hype



Oh boy: We barely said goodbye to Halloween and now the Pre-Black Friday sales are in full swing!  Not to mention it’s well ahead of Thanksgiving!  Even the radio stations have started up with the 24-7 holiday music.  Poor Thanksgiving has become the red-headed stepchild of holidays.

It’s dizzying how persuasive the ads and promotions can be.  Not only should we buy the perfect gifts for family and friends.  We are supposed to treat ourselves, too.  Half-0ff, BOGO, clearance….it goes on and on.  No wonder January is a sobering month when the bills come due!   It’s a financial month of reckoning, to be sure.  Not exactly how we’d want to start a new year, right?

How about shunning the retail siren to buy?


Start by carving out dedicated time to create your shopping list.  Decide who’s on it and what you’d like to gift them.  One of our favorite suggestions (and not just for the hard-to-buy) is to give experiences instead of things.  For example, how about gift certificates for a massage, a facial or a pedicure?  Or perhaps a family outing of some sort?

It can range from a simple night at the movies or an Escape The Room night, all the way to a weekend cruise…you choose!  Talk about making memories that will last a lifetime!  If you plan this correctly, you may just succeed in avoiding the mall altogether!

Of course, there will always be the iconic present we received as a child… a beloved doll, a shiny bike or a pretty necklace.



Yet if you think back over the years, what stands out more:  the gifts or the memories?  What if we plan for the holidays with a focus on “presence” rather than “presents”…wouldn’t that take a load off our shoulders?


Take a look at this video for ideas about giving “experiences”:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHN1rU7CgiQOr this one about giving to those without: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mm1I3mjDFvA.  It could be the start of a heartfelt tradition!

3.  Diffuse Family Drama



Gathering with the clan over the years during the holidays can be really good.  Or really awful. 

If you’ve experienced both or something in between, think about what the conversation was about.  If the focus was on what you are thankful for and what you appreciate in each other, that was likely the positive memory.  But if the dialogue veered towards old wounds, unmet expectations or pointed criticisms…yeah, that was a downer.

So what if you prepare for this year’s get together with an upbeat attitude?plan  How about staying in the present fellowship rather than detouring to past offenses?  When we look for the value that each family member brings to the table, our holiday celebration can be joyful and loving.  Save the points of contention for another day, when the issue can be discussed rationally and fairly.




People don’t change just because we tell them to!

Instead, plan to enjoy the finer qualities of your family.  Imagine how this will be a holiday you look back on with a smile on your face.

4.  Pause for Reflection

End of the year holidays provide a timely segue to plan for the New Year and all the hope it can bring.




Taking time to evaluate how this year unfolded for you has value.  Sometimes the regret we have for how we handled (or didn’t handle) things can weigh on us.  It makes it difficult to enjoy the holidays when we have nagging guilt or disappointment.  Even if we skip this step, those unresolved feelings continue to hover below the surface until we address them.

But what if we plan for dedicated reflection time about our year without judgment?  That is to say, what if we acknowledge our weaknesses but also applaud our accomplishments?  There’s no reason to beat ourselves up for our shortcomings.  Instead, we can be gentle with ourselves (and others) while appreciating where we are at now.

We are human and we make mistakes.  We don’t always take the best course of action or follow through with our goals.  But consider this year as a building block towards the next.  In the end, they all really are…the journey is on-going!

The Wrap

Plan for a serene and heartfelt holiday season. plan

  • Don’t let the retailers or unrealistic standards dictate how you choose to celebrate. 
  • Take control by deciding where you can avoid the excess materialism. 
  • Cut back on the drama by focusing on your family and friends, not the decorations and presents.
  • Review your year without judgment and look forward to a fresh new year.
  • Breathe!


Ready to wean yourself from excessive retail therapy?






What has been your most memorable holiday?  How do you minimize the hype?  Do you have family members who won’t understand your wish for simplicity?  If so, how will you handle that?


Feel free to share in the comments below how you intend to proceed in the upcoming holiday season….and thanks for stopping by!