The holidays are supposed to be a time of family, celebration, home cooking and cozy evenings spent by the fireplace, wrapping presents for the big day.
Or, at least that’s what the endless slew of made-for-TV Lifetime movies would like us to believe.
Unfortunately, most of us recognize this time of year as a month-long marathon of traffic and headaches, gift hunting and potluck hopping.
So easily does the whole thing become so chaotic that we lose touch with the core meaning behind the holidays and the true essence of the season.
In an effort to keep my cool — and my place on the “nice list,” — I’ve come up with the following list of rules for the holidays:
1. EXPECT traffic, lines and zero parking
There’s no escaping it; you will encounter traffic everywhere you go this time of year.
It will also be impossible to find parking and you will undoubtedly face lines that seem to circle the earth twice over once you do finally make it into stores.
This is the reality and it should really come as no surprise. Frustrating, yes. But shocking? Definitely not.
So, keeping that in mind, do your best to anticipate the chaos and give yourself a little extra time and patience heading into the fray.
2. Don’t overcommit yourself
'Tis the season for potlucks, secret Santas, holiday brunches and the like. There will be no shortage of invites in your inbox and while it may be tempting to select all and hit “accept,” pause for practicality.
Between your everyday commitments that continue on through the season and family demands on your schedule, we’re all left feeling a little short for “free time.”
You may have the best intentions in signing up to host that potluck and Christmas brunch in the same weekend, but someone is bound to get let down.
Instead of adding more pressure to your plate, be realistic with your schedule and avoid making things tighter than they need to be.
It’s much easier to politely decline an invite and send a gift than commit to something you know you won’t be able to pull through doing.
3. Don’t overthink gifts
It may be a bit cheesy to say, “It’s the thought that counts,” but it truly is.
Gifting loved ones through the holidays can be a very stressful endeavor, and it can take a lot out of us.
We worry that we haven’t found the right present to match the person, or that we haven’t spent enough to show just how much we care.
Just the thought alone should be enough for the people for whom we are looking to buy, and if they have your best interests at heart, odds are, you won't disappoint them.
Don’t let commercial pressures lead you to question yourself. A great present goes beyond design and dollars and has more to do with keeping it simple and sweet.
4. Life is short, so eat the sweets
Speaking of sweet, one of the more enjoyable aspects of the season is the food. Delicious home cooking wafting through the house and endless sweets on the table.
The holidays are stressful enough without embracing added dietary pressures, so go ahead and eat up. Throw a cleanse on your list of New Year's resolutions and don’t give it another thought.
5. Keep it all in perspective
December will fly by, followed by New Year’s Eve and Day, and then, we will land smack dab in the middle of cold and drab January.
Try to push past the holiday headaches and soak up the best of the season as much as possible while you have the chance.