Deck the Halls Without Climbing the Walls! Ten Tips for a Less-Stress Holiday Season.

#10  Plan Ahead.  Years ago we invested in new kitchen cabinets and appliances.  The cabinet installer was one of the slowest workers I’ve ever encountered.  He’d work until he needed a special part and then went to the hardware store.  An hour or so later, he’d return, and work some more until he needed the next part, leave, go to the hardware store, and return.  This cycle was repeated several times daily until the project took three times longer to complete than the original estimate!  It was clear, to put it kindly, that good planning was not one of his gifts! 

We can learn something from the cabinet installer when it comes to the holidays. I’m sure ours weren’t the first cabinets he ever installed, so he could have used past experience to put together a list of parts and materials he’d need, and in what order, to expedite the process.  We’ve been through the holidays before, so we can revisit Christmases past and determine a plan for this year.

One of the first rules of good planning is to start with the end in mind; that is, have a clear idea of your goal.  What does a Great Christmas look like to you?  Set aside a block of time and envision the Great Christmas you’ll have with those you love.  Now, pull out your calendar, a pen and a pad of paper and write down your description.  Talk with family members and get their input, too.

Next, draft a list of actions to achieve your Great Christmas.  Looking at your calendar, plan backward from Christmas Day, setting small deadlines for yourself for all the projects and activities you intend to do.  Schedule time for shopping, cooking, social activities, and for yourself.  Get detailed! Break it down to daily to-do lists if you can.  Remember, the more you separate the projects into small, manageable tasks, the less overwhelmed you’ll be.

Now, sit back and review your list.  You’ve worked hard to put it together, but now comes the tough part!  Prioritize the projects and activities.  Take a hard look at the ones that fall toward the bottom of your list.  Are they really essential to a Great Christmas this year?  Make sure you’re directing your energies toward and focusing on the priorities.  For the sake of reducing your stress level, give yourself permission to narrow your list to the most important items! 

Here’s a story to illustrate what I mean.  My birthday is in December, and my mother will tell you it was the best Christmas she can remember.  My siblings sigh when she says it, but her comments have nothing to do with favoritism and everything to do with practicality!  Her doctor suggested she get all her Christmas preparations done ahead of time; the baby would arrive during the holiday season.  Mom took his advice, and brought her new baby home to a decorated house, with closets that hid treasures ready for Christmas morning.  She knew her priorities, and everything fell into place behind them.

We’re preparing for a special baby’s birth, too.  Plan ahead!  Now is the time to collect your thoughts, make a list, check it twice, and start working your plan for a Great Christmas! premium domains my ip address

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