December 19, 2023

How to Preserve Your Joy This Holiday Season

Lifestyle & Pop Culture

In some holidays’ past, I have not excelled at preserving joy and making the most of this really busy time.

Eventually, I realized that there has to be a better way. 

So when I received a thoughtful question from one of our community members, Kelly, about this very thing, it really made me pause and reflect on what I’ve done to turn this ship around.

So here are some easy hacks I’ve personally put into place that might be helpful to you.

1. Establish and then manage expectations. 

If you kind of act as the keeper of the holidays, then this probably starts with you. Think about what your expectations really are — and what’s also reasonable. This might be even more crucial to consider if you have grown kids — or if you’re divorced. I check the box on both of those.  So there are a lot of moving parts. 

Ask yourself:

  • What are my values here?
  • What do I wanna stick to? 
  • What matters the most? 
  • And what can I let go of? 
  • What’s not worth it?

Establish your own expectations and then communicate them clearly to your people. 

Sometimes we don’t even know the little stories that our people are telling themselves in their heads about how the holidays are going to go. This would have saved me 40 million hours of holiday drama. 

For example, this year for Christmas, I decided early on that I wanted to do the whole thing differently this year. I wanted a completely different environment than what we had last year. So we are doing a destination Christmas, with very, very few gifts, but a trip. Just me and the kids. I set that expectation early on and now we’re all thrilled about it.

2. Put the word “no” in high rotation. 

The thing about the holidays is that there are a million opportunities for fun things.

There are so many parties. There are so many get-togethers. There are so many gift exchanges. There are activities and parades. It’s kind of endless.

Nobody’s being a bad person inviting you to their fun thing. It’s just how it is. And so, again, link it up to your expectations and what you want to experience over the course of this holiday.

Then, just use the word “no” as often as you need to. For example, say: “Oh, thank you so much for inviting me for that. I’m not going to be able to make it this year. I hope you have the best time.”

That’s it. You don’t need anything else. You do not have to say yes to everything, and if you do, you will regret it. The word “no” is your friend.

3. Instacart. I said what I said.

It’s my favorite tool to use during the holiday season.

The one place where I tend to feel like I get in the weeds is cooking. There’s just so much cooking and I’m in charge of my whole family and my home.

And so between all the days and all the meals and all the gatherings and all the special events, I have let the tail wag the dog on this before and regretted it. So I use Instacart. I load up every single thing I need in my Instacart and have it all there.

There’s no mad dash calling my neighbors for sour cream. Or that I forgot to get more butter, or whatever the thing is.

When I have all my ingredients ordered and delivered — and I’ve planned it out — I’m not helter-skelter trying to figure out what to do on the day of. It eliminates so much anxiety and stress off my shoulders. 

These are the tools that I’ve added that have changed our holiday season from being manic and over-scheduled and disappointing to actually delightful. 

Pare it down to exactly what you’re hoping to experience with each other and with your friends and family this year. You can do it. 


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