Starting Early is Only One Tactic
This is the week it all kicks off for real. Oh sure, you’ve been hearing holiday music in stores for a while, but with Thanksgiving just ahead, I wanted to share some time (and sanity) saving ideas for the holidays while you can still put some of them to good use!
When we were kids, Christmas seemed to take forever to get here. Pretty different as adults, right? Time seems to race by and you can’t even catch your breath. There’s a pretty simple reason for that: as we grow up, we get busy. December isn’t any shorter, but we pack those days so full, we do more and enjoy it less. Well, let me look at five areas where I think we might be able to turn things around and get back to enjoying the holidays like we once did.
Save Time Shopping
This is a big one. Between the Black Friday rush and the last-minute panic, the stress of buying holiday gifts is intense. Sure, you could start earlier, but how many of us can pull that off? So let’s be more realistic. How about doing more shopping online? You can do it in your pajamas, and you actually have access to a wider selection of gifts and prices. It’s pretty painless and safe these days. And it sure beats fighting the crowds.
Or, consider some bigger changes. Why not suggest a “Make It or Bake It” gift exchange? It may not save a lot of time, but it will save money. And the experience of making (or baking) something for someone you love feels less like a chore, and more like one of the “fun” parts of the holiday. Or, skip gifts all together, and put together a little family and/or friends’ weekend at a cozy resort? The gift is socializing with people you care about. One size fits all, and the memories will last forever.
Guard Your Time Jealously
The holidays sometimes feel like one big party, and no one likes being a Grinch. But with school events, office parties, family get-togethers, holiday plays and musicals and other festive traditions, the schedule gets full. And that makes the other chores like cooking, cleaning, and entertaining even more stressful because the time crunch adds pressure.
The solution? Don’t feel like you have to accept every holiday invitation you receive. And don’t feel like each thing you do has to become an annual tradition. It’s okay to rotate things around, make each year a little different! Keep some air in your daily planner. Don’t let all the coming and going take away your chances for “being” and “enjoying.”
Cook Less, Visit More
I’m going to let you in on a little secret: people don’t fill out “Yelp” reviews on your holiday dinners. And Uncle Louie always praises your pasta salad because, well, because he always does. It’s a tradition. (And he probably wouldn’t know the difference if this year you got it at the deli, instead.) And a store-bought cake or cookies will taste plenty good to your guests, especially if it means they get to actually see and talk to you sometime during the meal.
It’s also okay to make fewer things. Has there ever been a Thanksgiving dinner, for example, at which you didn’t receive comments like “Wow, I am stuffed,” and “Are you feeding an army?” Should holiday mealtime success really depend on an obscene amount of uneaten food?
At very least, save a little time by making some things ahead of time; just heat them or serve them at the meal. Again, the only one who’ll know—or care—is you. In fact, isn’t it kind of rude to spend your holiday showing off your cooking skills instead of enjoying the family all in one place for a change? Just let go a little – and you might enjoy the holiday a lot!
Traveling? Allowing Extra Time Can Save Time
For many, the holidays mean travel, whether it’s a couple hours to grandma’s house by car, or a tedious family flight to the coast during the heaviest travel days. But the one thing common to all holiday travel is this: being late or rushed makes things many times worse. Crowded airports, loaded planes and baggage horror stories conspire to make every traveler anxious. And getting to the airport with only minutes to spare only makes things worse.
Wherever, and however you’re going, leave plenty of time to get there. Think of highway traffic and airport delays as part of the holidays, and “go with the flow.” If you’re there early, you can. And it could actually save you time by putting you in a better position to respond quickly to any flight changes or delays.. And if you do have problems, don’t overreact. Watch one of my favorite old movies, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, with Steven Martin and John Candy, for a little dose of perspective.
Make Time for Others
Okay, this one is a little hokey, maybe, but bear with me. While you’re trying to save time and get all that holiday fussing and celebrating into a few short weeks, make some time to do something for those who have far less to celebrate. Non-profit organizations could use a few bucks and a few hours of your time to make things better for homeless people, impoverished families, struggling veterans, and abandoned animals – any number of worthy causes. Time seems to slow down when you’re helping others – and it is likely to be the best-spent, most memorable time of your holiday season.
If there’s any way I can help explain any of my thoughts here, by all means give me a call. Otherwise, good luck making the most of your time during the coming holidays.