Advice & Features Articles

9 Holiday Survival Tips to a More Joyful Season

By Debbie Dobbs, M.A. / Contributor

Tis the season to be jolly so don’t let stress overtake your good holiday vibe.  Here are some suggestions that work for me, and I hope can help you as well.

1) Do not exhaust yourself decorating the house

The decorations are for you and your family, not the neighbors next door, so put up what adds joy to your lives and home and stop there.

2 ) Honor traditions but don’t stress out about them

Your traditions help you build memories with your kids, but this year you just don’t have time to string popcorn, drive around looking at lights, AND go out to a Christmas tree farm. Instead of stressing about checking off all of your traditions, find a way to work in a few of your favorites.  Then, next year you can honor the ones you missed this year.

3) Sometimes you need to say “no” 

At this time of year, there are so many demands on your time, from preparing for visiting relatives to volunteering to baking cookies. It comes down to prioritizing, and saying “no” can simplify things, lower spending and leave you with some time to relax and remember why we celebrate the season.

4) Be flexible

This always works! Try to be flexible about getting things done for you and your kids. One year, my daughter wanted me to teach her to ice skate, but I can barely skate myself. Instead of trying to be Supermom, I asked my brother—a former hockey player—to take her when he came in town. They had a wonderful time together, and she will always remember ice skating with “Uncle Boo.”

5) Help your kid(s) learn about the importance of giving

Kids can be so focused on getting presents that they forget about giving to others. Have them help you pick out gifts for extended family and friends. Emphasize finding meaningful gifts that truly fit the recipient’s personality.  And while you’re at it, model the importance of giving back.  During the holidays, there are countless opportunities to volunteer and serve the community, so it’s easy to teach your children about helping those in need.  Editor’s Note: See related story on page 42.

6) Add wiggle room into your schedule

This allows time for the unexpected or to relax. Believe me, your kids will thank you that you don’t have every moment of the holidays planned out.

7) Do not make cookies from scratch (unless that’s your thing)

I find baking stressful! But ready-made cookies were fantastic for me because the fun came in watching my daughter and my mother decorate them together. They made beautiful memories but without the mess.

8) Remember to breathe

This supposedly unconscious habit, oddly enough, takes constant reminding. It’s amazing how a few good deep breaths really help, no matter if you burn the turkey or your in-laws show up a day early.

9 Laugh

Laugh whenever you can! Every December, we watch the movie Elf. We love it, and when it’s on, you’ll hear lots of belly laughs.  Start a new tradition of watching your family’s favorite holiday comedy, maybe even while wearing matching pajamas.

Editor’s Note: Debbie Dobbs is the Executive Director of The Counseling Place, a nonprofit agency providing affordable, professional and education services. Reach her at 469.283.0242 or couselingplace.org

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