It’s official: the Christmas season is here. And for some of us, that means the pressure is on.
The pressure to get the right gifts for everyone on the (extensive) list recommended by etiquette experts (remembering a year I chased our trash collector down the street in my pajamas because I realized I wouldn’t see them again until after the holiday. Yes, he got his card and tip, but I lost a little piece of my dignity.)
The pressure to send cards (tradition!) or not send cards (the environment!).
The pressure to bake 4 dozen different kinds of cookies or hand-craft every cute idea seen on Pinterest.
And really, I think most of the anxiety stems from a pressure to create meaningful traditions. We want to feel like we’re engaging in something bigger than ourselves, creating lasting memories and adding warmth to the world at this time of year.
But last year, in a series of posts about making holidays easier, I said this about giving in to “shoulds” at this time of year:
Traditions can have a dark side, too. When they become less about joy and fun and more about pressure and obligation, traditions lose their purpose and actually get in the way of a happy holiday. We don’t necessarily want to stop baking, decorating, or sending cards altogether, but we want to incorporate those much-loved (and sometimes, much blown out of proportion) traditions in a saner, less stressful way.
Here are the four posts from last year’s Holidays, The Easy Way series, in which we tackle cards, baking, teacher gifts and giving. I hope they help make your holidays a little easier…and happier.
6 ideas for making the card-sending process easier, more manageable and more enjoyable – including:
- Pare down your holiday card list.
- Rotate receivers.
- Consider sending non-holiday cards.
- Make it easy on yourself.
- Relax your standards.
- Have your kids do the work.
Baking during the holidays should be fun – not an obligation. Tips include:
- Scale back.
- Team up.
- Do what works.
- Forget the calendar.
What’s meant to be a token of appreciation and thanks can turn into a source of stress, pressure and even competition. Tips for keeping it in perspective include:
- Keep in mind why you’re giving the gift.
- “Budget” a specific amount of time for making or buying gifts.
- Give something that makes you happy.
- Remember that teacher gifts don’t have to cost a lot.
- Keep in mind that there will be many more opportunities to show appreciation.
Three easy and last-minute ways to give back as a family during the holidays:
- Donate to a large charity.
- Think local.
- A personal touch.