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Simplifying the Holidays

Suggestions for cutting through the chaos of the season.

I am one of those annoyingly festive people who actually loves this time of year. But there does come a time in the middle of filling out holiday cards, baking cookies, decorating the house, checking lists, and shopping for gifts when it all becomes a bit overwhelming. There are ways to simplify this season so that we’re not running ourselves ragged by the time New Years comes along.

Cut down on travel: This may be an unavoidable necessity if you live far from family. But while your kids are young, you may want to reconsider the need. Travelling with little ones is always a hassle. Add in the chaos and expenses of the holidays, and it makes it much more complicated. Consider staying close to home and keeping it low key, with the promise that you’ll visit family in a month or two when things die down.

Re-evaluate gift giving: I recently heard about the 4 gift rule for kids that I found very interesting: One they want, one they need, one they wear, one they read. It cuts down on the massive overload of unnecessary gifts for young ones. If you start this tradition when they are little, this will be their expectation going forward. And when they are very young, you can pare it down even more.  As a baby they don’t know the difference, and they will get plenty of presents from friends and family.

If you are hosting a holiday party, consider having a pot-luck or assigning meal items to guests. People are always asking what they can bring anyway, so take them up on the offer and have a list of options ready. It divides up the responsibility and the costs associated with a big gathering. In these busy and tough economic times, I don’t think anyone would turn their nose up at the idea.

Set realistic expectations: If you decide to decorate, keep it minimal. You are not Clark W. Griswold or Martha Stewart. The kids’ happy holiday memories do not rely on how perfectly the garland hangs from the railing or how straight the lights outline the house.  So give yourself a break. A few small touches or red or green or gold are enough to set the mood for the season.

Take some time for you to relax: After it’s all said and done, take a day or two off to enjoy the afterglow of the holidays. It’s usually painfully quiet around the office, so it’s the perfect opportunity to take a little time to enjoy your family... and assemble any toys that may need it. Sigh.

Have a great, simple holiday everyone!

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