This week I saw my first Christmas commercial on TV. Two things happened to me… first I was surprised, then I was depressed. It’s officially 2 months until Christmas. Let’s forget the fact that Halloween and Thanksgiving are celebrated before the big holiday… in the grand scheme of the advertisers, they don’t count. This means that the count down is starting. It’s time to bring on the fliers, Christmas carols, 50% off savings, lack of parking, gift lists, “mommy can I haves” and parties. You and I can remember the last few days before Christmas last year when we vowed that Christmas would no longer sneak up on us. We were going to get a head start next year. Vowed, remember? So instead of letting the hustle and bustle of Christmas overwhelm us all, let’s start planning now. I know that sounds simplistic but simplifying helps during the Holidays.
1. Prioritize. Prioritizing is always #1 and holds true with all of these tips. I often tell my clients; don’t sacrifice, prioritize! If you normally send out 50 Christmas cards and that task always overwhelms you, go through your list and prioritize. Does that co-worker from two jobs ago really stay in touch with you? Is he going to miss that one Christmas card from you this year? Probably not.
2. Make your gift lists and set a budget. When you make that list of people you like gifting to, set a dollar limit to each recipient. Even if you go over just a little you’ll feel better by knowing that when you’re shopping you have a set budget per person.
3. Start saving. You can do this in a multitude of ways. Force yourself to put $20 away per week in an envelope. Cut out going out for lunch for October and November and put that lunch money aside. Skip happy hour a couple of times. You’ll be surprised how quickly and how much you will accumulate over a few week’s time. However you do it just be sure to save.
4. Shop early. I know that when you shop early you always have that nagging thought in the back of your mind; “if I wait until closer to Christmas, this will go on sale!” Truth be told, it may… but it also may not. You may realize all too late that your item is the hot item of the season. Do you want to take that chance? Plus if you wait until December to buy it you’ll have to contend with the crowds. This elevates your overwhelm scale. If you see it, buy it and save your receipt. If it goes on sale you can take your receipt back to the store and most stores will honor the sale price and refund your overage.
5. Breathe! We go back to #1… being overwhelmed is not the reason for the season. Is it really necessary to be that overwhelmed? Take care of yourself and your blood pressure. Remember there are only 4 Saturdays in December. If you can’t attend every Holiday Party that you’ve been invited to, graciously decline. The host will appreciate the RSVP and will understand. If not and the host begins to badger you by saying “just stop in for a few minutes” and you know that you have volunteered to bring in a full Christmas breakfast to Church the next day, it truly is ok to just say no, you can’t do it. You’ll be happy that you did.
In the end remember, the Holidays are a time to be surrounded by friends that you love, family that you cherish and memories that you will be making. You won’t remember in ten years that you forgot to make the homemade eggnog for your Christmas gathering. Enjoy your company and be joyful for another year of celebrating.