Prioritize Traditions for a Simpler Holiday

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Do you plan ahead for the holidays, or do they sneak up on you every year? Staying on top of things and making intentional choices about how you want to spend your holidays can simplify your life and help you relax so you can enjoy the spirit of the season. Now is the perfect time to cut back, to simplify your commitments and your schedule. By finding ways to create space in your life, you can create a happier, more joyful holiday as well.

A big part of simplifying your holidays involves prioritizing the traditions, values and events that mean the most to you. When you prioritize the activities that are most important to you and your family, you can then organize your schedule around them. If family tradition dictates a big tree decorating party on the weekend before Christmas, schedule it in and skip some lesser events. Choose activities that are meaningful and memorable for the whole family and let other things slide. Don’t feel obligated to go to every party, dinner, parade or show you’re invited to. Choose the ones that mean the most to you and enjoy them fully.

Prioritizing your values and traditions can also help you figure out how your Christmas budget will be spent. If gift giving is a big part of your traditions, then you know a lot of your budget is going toward gifts, and you can plan accordingly. If your family values quality time over store-bought gifts, then you know you can cut back on the gift budget and dedicate more of your budget to entertaining or family outings. It’s important to discuss these priorities as a family so everyone is on the same page.

If you’re planning to cut back, let your friends and family know in advance so they have time to adjust their expectations. Discuss what your plans are and why you’re making changes. Most people are on automatic pilot when it comes to holiday planning — some are even in automatic crisis mode. They do what they do because it’s what they’ve always done, or because it’s what they think everyone expects them to do. If you bring up the topic with honesty and sincerity, you may be surprised by the responses. Once the questions have been asked, you’re opening up the possibilities of doing things differently.

Try not to compare yourself, your celebration, your gifts or your traditions against some “ideal holiday,” real or imagined. Be true to yourself and your family. Don’t be pressured by other people — friends, family or society in general — to keep up with the Joneses’ holiday. Whether you’re selecting a gift, throwing a party or RSVP’ing for those events, decide what you want to spend in both money and time, and stick to it.