For a Truly Memorable Holiday Season, Give the Gift of Time
It may be hard to believe, but the holiday season is right around the corner! In fact, you might already be seeing holiday treats and decorations on store shelves or commercials on TV. This time of year, we are inundated with marketing telling us that to really enjoy the holidays, we need to be festive non-stop and, of course, spend, spend, spend. But the truth is, making the most of the holidays means spending time and making memories with the people we love, not just emptying our pockets. To make sure you truly enjoy the holidays this year, here are some tips to help you stay present and cut down on holiday stressors.
Chances are the mere mention of “the holiday season” caused your mind to start racing a little bit, with lists of all the things you need to get done. And there is no denying this time of year is very hectic for most of us. Shopping, cooking, decorating, office parties, cocktail parties, kids’ school events . . . There is no end to the obligations around the holidays, it seems!
If all we are doing is racing from one event to the next, however, we’re actually missing out on a magical time of year. So try to practice being present in the moment rather than thinking about what’s coming next. If you’re at a party or other event, look around and name five things you are really enjoying – maybe it’s a delicious appetizer or a chance to chat with your favorite neighbor. If you’re busy in the kitchen preparing a special meal, pause and take a trip down memory lane – maybe you baked those same cookies with your grandmother or danced in the kitchen with your siblings while your parents cooked the holiday meal. By giving yourself time to really take in what you’re doing, you’ll be much more relaxed, and you’ll also be building much stronger, more precious holiday memories for yourself and your loved ones.
Prioritize People and Experiences Over Things
It can be hard, especially if you have kids clamoring over three-page letters to Santa, but the holiday season can be the perfect opportunity to de-emphasize material things. Instead of trying to find the perfect gift for the people in your life, turn your attention to how you can spend a little more time with them this holiday season.
These experiences don’t need to be extravagant, either. An hour spent ice skating with your best friend, a walk around the block after dinner to look at the neighborhood lights, a family card game, an evening spent decorating cookies with your kids (even though the kitchen ends up covered in frosting) – these types of moments mean more than anything you can put in a box and wrap.
As a country, we have experienced a lot of isolation and loss over the past 2.5 years, and many of us have come to realize that time spent with the ones we love is what matters most. This is even more true during the holiday season. The gift of your time is truly the most meaningful thing you can give.
Let Go of Perfectionism
Your house doesn’t need to be decked out in thousands of lights or blow-up reindeer. You don’t need to make ten different types of baked good. Your child’s teacher will be perfectly happy to receive a Starbucks gift card instead of a hand-crafted, personalized present. Unless doing these things truly brings you joy, feel free to let them go! We often feel like we need to make things perfect for the holidays to feel special, particularly if we have children. But remember, your family and friends don’t love you because you are perfect; they love you because you are you.
Set Budgets for Your Time and Money
On average, Americans spend between $700 and $1,000 on holiday gifts, decorations, and food. While we’re certainly not saying you should never splurge on your loved ones (or on yourself!), being a bit more intentional about how you’re spending during the holiday season can help prevent a major financial hangover come January.
Spend some time now to look at your finances and set a realistic budget for your holiday spending. One powerful way to make a budget stick is to tie it to a value, something you believe in strongly or hold dear. Maybe you care a lot about sustainability and the environment; you could think about how cutting back on your holiday purchases (including wrapping paper and packaging!) will help reduce waste. Maybe you’re trying to instill a sense of gratitude and appreciation in your children; keeping your family’s focus on time spent together making memories will make those lessons much more powerful.
Budgeting also applies to your time and energy – remember, these are both finite resources! We all need a chance to relax and recharge, so make sure you give yourself that time this season. Set aside some “me time” at least once a week, and stick to that budget strictly.
Remember That Less Can Be More
Most of these tips come down to this – very often in life, less is more. If you stop and think about it, most of your favorite or most precious memories likely revolve around simple pleasures rather than piles of gifts or extravagant events. Embrace a little more simplicity this holiday season, and you’ll start off the new year with less stress, more money, and a heart full of memories!