Maybe you are super organized and have already been pinning your ideas on Pinterest. Maybe you are keeping notes on your phone about gift ideas for your family.  Maybe you are already tearing out recipes for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or another winter holiday that you celebrate.  These days ideas are easy to find and right at your finger tips but for some add to the feeling of overwhelm.

For many people the holidays can be stressful. Planning gatherings with several family groups can create holiday overload.  Missing our loved ones that we cannot spend the holidays with is not uncommon. Meeting expectations whether they are your own or someone elses can also be a set up for a let down.

Financial stresses also increase this time of year with extra groceries, school activities, and gifts. Maybe your family is going through a difficult time and you are not capable of flipping your feelings with the flip of the calendar.

As a seasoned holiday enthusiast, I have also crashed and burned enough to offer some advice.  Here are some tips on how to keep your priorities straight and set limits  so you can enjoy the season the way it is meant to be enjoyed.

1. Asess your budget and act accordingly.  There truly is no reason to cripple yourself financially trying to make the "perfect" holiday.  If you can afford to go all out and create the holiday wonderland of your dreams and you enjoy it, do it! Most people have financial and emotional limits on what they can afford to give. Respect yours.

2.Everything doesn't have to be over the top to be memorable and special.  How much food do you throw away at the end of the season?  How many toys are opened and cast aside because it was just one more thing to open.  Save some time and focus on quality vs. quantity.  Seriously, nobody can, or wants to eat ALL the cookies and candies that are passed around each year.  Don't make the extra side dish, don't break your back baking one more variety of cookie. Ask yourself what your motivation is and then answer honestly.

3. Prioritize and plan.  Who do you want to spend time with?  What are the resources you have available?  For example, if you love to throw a big party and your resources are abundant, do it!  But if you are short on time and the focus is to enjoy some holiday cheer with friends, why not meet at a festively decorated coffee shop and catch up there.  No prep required and time well spent.

4. Respect the limitations of others and ask them what they need.  Sometimes we get stuck in our own ideas of how things should be.  Don't force your priorities on other people.  We are all individuals with our own preferences for what makes us feel fulfilled and happy.  Some of us are extroverts and can socialize until the crack of dawn!  Some of us are introverts and socializing can be taxing  after a certain point.  Do what makes you happy and allow others to do the same. You know the saying, different strokes for different folks.

5. Do something charitable for someone who cannot do for themselves.  Honestly, if at no other time, the holidays are a time to reflect on your blessings and make a human connection in a meaningful way with larger humanity.  Stretch yourself, and give to someone outside your immediate circle, you will not regret it.

So there it is.  If you needed someone to validate your feelings of holiday apprehension and encourage you to seek balance, consider it done. Stand strong in the priorities of yourself and your loved ones this year and it might become your new tradition!

xoxo

Bernadette