Here we go! We’re back into the whirlwind season again. The holidays can bring that combo of excitement mixed with a touch (or a large dose) of overwhelm. So how can we strategically plan more to enjoy the holiday season?
You may be reading this and thinking to yourself, “Why bother? I need to keep my head down and power my way through! My feelings don’t matter.”
I think that’s a false assumption we can have at times. When in truth, you’re state of being is so important – especially during this time. Just like the Christmas tree is the center of your home during the holidays, your emotional energy creates a setpoint for everyone around you.
So as I write this (researching to help myself through it, too), I’m still very much a work in process. And I’m pulling all my resources so that I (and you) can conjure the most fulfilling holiday season possible. Why? Because we all deserve it!
Here are some thoughts and strategies to get you started:
1. Envision how you’d like to see the holidays unfold.
“Begin with the end in mind.” – Steven Covey.
How can you get there if you don’t have a road map and know where you’re going? Take a few minutes to think about how you’d like everything to go.
Some years you may be in the mood for a relaxing, stay-at-home, minimalist kind of holiday, and other years you may feel like doing it big, bright, and glittery. Tonya Leigh of The School of Self-Image often says, “Who do you want to be, and how do you want to feel?” We can take a moment to create a mental template of what we’d love to happen. And we can add, “If you could describe this holiday season in three words, what would they be?”
I can say for me I’d like to be relaxed, content, and fulfilled. I want this season to be cozy, exciting, and (feel more) organized.
The good news is that we have full power to determine how we want to experience the holiday season. Thankfully we get to choose.
Then try getting even more specific. How do you see Christmas Eve unfolding? Do you want to start new traditions and play new games? Would you like to have an open house and invite neighbors over? On Christmas morning, is there something else you’d like to do to start the day? Like waking up early for a 20-minute meditation? Or possibly setting up a specialty coffee station first thing in the morning?
There are endless ways this can all be experienced. Be open to creative inspiration. And begin to put your vision into motion.
2. Create a checklist (your best friend to accompany you through the season).
“The future belongs to those who prepare for it.” – Anonymous
Now that you have a plan, it’s helpful to organize your project with lists. I have to say I typically don’t love lists. However, when I’ve resisted organizing with lists, I’ve ended up regretting it. I lose track and don’t realize that someone’s gift hasn’t arrived on time. Or that I completely forgot to order that one item for my mother-in-law online.
I’m not a super-organized person, so during the holidays, I need a checklist. I recently discovered Trello, and I’m obsessed. I created boards for the holidays, including lists of gifts, people to buy for, what to buy, etc. It’s fantastic. Trello has a checklist feature that allows me to create an item on the list and check the box when it has arrived.
I’m also using it for dinner planning and holiday organization too.
3. Don’t abandon your self-care routine.
“Be enough for yourself first the rest of the world can wait.” – Anonymous
Even if you have to get up earlier, try committing more deeply to your self-care routine. Your positive, uplifting energy is the greatest gift you can give to loved ones.
Here are some ideas for additional self-care if you are looking even to add something new this season:
- morning routine – click here to improve your mornings now and into the new year
- morning pages – write your way to a great day by checking out morning pages
- gratitude practices – click here to discover more ways to implement practices of gratitude into your daily life
4. Enjoy the holiday season by strategizing your giving plan.
“Soulful giving enlarges your capacity to be more caring – you give for the joy of it, expecting nothing in return.” – Judith Orloff, M.D.
When you’re organized, you can find time to enjoy the process of selecting unique and special items for your family and friends.
Several years ago, I became friends with a woman named Michelle. Every year she would designate one full day and make it a ‘fun shopping day.’ I loved this idea. She taught me to think of shopping as a super fun holiday experience. Choose one day. Start it off with your favorite coffee, and then hit the stores.
We spend holidays in the Boston area, and I love shopping along Newbury Street, looking for unique items. After a full day (in proper Michelle form), reward yourself with a holiday cocktail! It’s so fun to be inspired by all of the window displays.
I find online shopping less exciting, but I try to make it more enjoyable by designating time (I use a timer), listening to music, and feeling excited while searching for the perfect items for my family members.
Infuse giving with the energy of joy.
You can also take time to donate to a charity of your choice. Take a look at four charities that have the mission of empowering women here.
“The more you celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” – Oprah Winfrey.
A celebration can appear in many forms.
Whether it’s in your holiday decor, festive parties, gathering with friends, or long luxurious baths. The holidays can be a great time to acknowledge and celebrate the blessings in your life.
Underlying celebration is the energy of joy. Abraham Hicks says, “It’s not just that your purpose is joy, it is that you are joy. You are love and joy and freedom and clarity expressing.” Enjoy the holiday season – it’s what you’re meant to do.
Adopt a celebratory, festive mindset and see what happens!
My New Year’s Eve surprise plan:
As one New Year’s Eve (2011) approached, I was feeling pretty dreadful. At the time, I had a co-parenting arrangement where my daughter spent every other Christmas in Saskatchewan, Canada, and I was to meet her in Toronto to travel the rest of the journey with her home to upstate new york. As the date approached, I thought to myself, “This is so terrible! I’m going to be alone, by myself, in Toronto on New Year’s Eve!”
On the drive there, I told myself, “I’m going to make this a memorable day – no matter what!” I booked a room at a 5-star hotel as a treat. By the time I arrived, I felt happy and excited to enjoy an evening in this fabulous hotel.
On check-in, the concierge said, “Hello! Welcome! We have a surprise – you’ve been upgraded to the presidential suite!” It was so exciting. Then, when I got settled into the suite, they sent up a tray of chocolates with strawberries.
It ended up being one of my all-time most memorable New Year’s Eve celebrations. I went out and had a fabulous dinner and then headed back to my room to watch the ball drop on the television. I felt excited about the new year ahead.
The positive energy flowing and a feeling of celebration made all the difference.
6. Gratitude holds the key to enjoying the holiday season.
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” – Eckhart Tolle.
I’ve recently learned more about gratitude from the book Attitudes of Gratitude by M. J. Ryan. (I highly recommend it) She shares the many dimensions and layers of gratitude that make it possible to feel grateful even when things are less than perfect in your life.
Most importantly, she shares that gratitude is about appreciating everything as it is. It’s not just about that fancy new dress or that vacation you’re planning. It’s a state of thankfulness for the good things and the challenging things that have made you who you are.
Take the time to think about where you are today and where you were five years ago. There is so much to be grateful for. So much that you’ve overcome.
It all mattered, it was necessary, and every single thing has contributed to where you are right now.
Bonus – Be good to yourself (Enjoy the holiday season for YOU)
“Life becomes beautiful when you learn to be as good to yourself as you are to others.” – Anonymous
The holidays can be challenging. Every year it’s different.
The expectations might be overwhelming. Try to remember it’s just one day and just one season. Reach for the good. Trust in the process. Know that you are loved and never alone.
Now, grab a hot chocolate and some kleenex, and watch “Love, Actually.”