Eight Great Ways to Simplify the Holidays

happy holidays

Like it or not, the holiday season is here and the countdown is on.  With so much to do and so little time, we often forget to be in the moment and enjoy these precious, special days.  Why not let go of the self-made chaos and simplify the holidays?  Try these eight great ways to get started.

 1)    Avoid overbooking yourself.  Stop filling your calendar with things that create overload!  Your life is already hectic.  Give yourself time to enjoy the season, the process, your family, and your guests.  Be reasonable about your expectations.

 2)    Schedule some ‘you’ time.  Go see the local light displays, a special play, or a musical performance; arrange for a massage or manicure; have lunch with a friend you don’t see often enough.  Make plans now to ensure it happens!

 3)    Stop doing things that no longer bring you joy, or that you simply don’t have time for this year. There is a difference between obligations and choices.  You might be obligated to attend an annual family function, but you can choose to skip holiday cards or cookie baking if it means keeping your sanity. 

4)    Honor things that make you and your family the happiest by giving them center stage.  Create meaningful new traditions instead of continuing ones that have lost their appeal.  Volunteer as a family to help those in need, or take a day trip to a local small town to enjoy the decorations and shops. Make it your celebration!

 5)    Be sure to involve others.  Delegate tasks to family members.  Be willing to sacrifice control for the assistance. Enjoy the pleasure of working together on holiday preparations.  If everyone shares in achieving a common goal it becomes fun, easier to complete, and creates a sense of closeness.

 6)    As you decorate your house, assess your collection of lights, ornaments, and holiday paraphernalia.  Donate items that are no longer favorites or hold no special meaning.  Toss items that are broken, worn, dirty, or outdated. 

 7)    If you want to entertain but feel too rushed over the holiday weeks, consider hosting a gathering in January or February when the pace has slowed for everyone.  People will appreciate having something to look forward to during the winter months, and you can prepare in a more leisurely way.

8)    If your home is disorganized, focus on decluttering the main living areas.  Don’t worry about rooms your guests won’t see. Return items to the places they belong.  Clear all surfaces for a more open look and feel; eliminate piles on the floor, clutter on tabletops, and random accumulation on the kitchen counter.  Do a quick clean of those rooms, focusing on creating warmth and welcome rather than perfection.

As a Professional Organizer and Coach in Maryland, my challenge to you for the 2014 holiday season and beyond is to keep life simple. Let go of the things that weigh you down. Be flexible. Enjoy this special season. And above all be grateful.