I think I’m definitely on an extreme end of the spectrum when it comes to the holiday season in that I LOVE it. All of it. Every single second of cheer, merriment, food and drinks, dressing up, decorating and cleaning…and even the chillier weather.
That said, I did not always feel this way. Holidays can be really stressful, even for people like me who really love this time of year. Between trying to balance schedules, keep your life on track, budgetary worries, and making everyone happy (and inevitably failing), I think we can all agree that it’s a lot to take on.
One of the things that always stressed me out above all growing up (and honestly it gets worse with age and the ability to choose) is how to split up your time. This might not be a problem for everyone, but growing up in a divorced household with the additional component of extended family always made this to be…a bit of a jigsaw puzzle. The thing with being younger is that usually these things are decided for you!
Now that I’m older, and I’m sure this is more relatable for many, is that when you’re given the independent choice of where to spend your time, it also comes with guilt and stress and a lot of planning! If you have a significant other do you spend it with them? How do you divide your time with each others’ families, combined with coordinating vacation days from work or balancing a school schedule, and fitting everything in? Whew…getting a little bit worked up just thinking about this, and my holiday plans are already set in stone! Talk about overreacting, y’all!
There are a few times I learned growing up that have totally cemented this process for me in my early 20s that I think are incredibly helpful, so if you’re one of those people who starts to feel really overwhelmed by all of this, check these out and it should help chill you out!
Setting Expectations | One of the biggest problem areas with the holidays is that everyone gets an idea in their head about what they think the holidays will look like and how they will be spent. Expectations are a great way to get disappointed and leave people with hurt feelings – so establishing and discussing these way ahead of time are a HUGE time saver when it comes to damage control.
People won’t feel abandoned by you if you tell them you’re going to your S/O’s house for Thanksgiving dinner if they never believed you were coming to theirs first…even if that idea came out of thin air in their own imagination. Even if all you say is “we aren’t entirely sure what our holiday plans are just yet, but we will let you know as soon as we do so that you can plan” a few months or weeks in advance can make all the difference!
Plan It Out | Usually sometime around mid-late October we sit down with some printed out calendars and map out a couple of different scenarios that make sense and cover all of our bases family-wise. (For us, planning out multiple scenarios is pretty much essential because it’s guaranteed that at least a couple of them will have to be altered or scrapped altogether due to insane flight prices or family members weighing in).
This is the easiest way to get a birds-eye view of what can work and make everyone happy, though! Once we’ve found something that seems feasible, we can just snap a picture or type it into our Google Calendars and share them with our families so that everyone is on the same page down to our flight times and arrivals (another essential for getting rides from the airport without being asked 97 times when we are landing!)
Syncing Calendars | I realized that last part should honestly be its own section…Sharing calendars is a game changer. I personally use Google Calendar and sync it to everything – blogging, personal, work-related, travel…and if you book a flight it automatically downloads your info from your inbox into the calendar spaces. It’s amazing! The best part is that you can share certain calendar types (like travel) with family members so they can check it on their own or save it to theirs as well. So much easier!
Alternate, & Compromise | I got very well rehearsed in the idea of alternating holidays given my family situation as a child, but some people could never fathom or allow the idea of giving up every other year with families. Sometimes, though, you need to compromise! Either taking turns or compromising on a couple of details (like spending two days in one city rather than five). Whatever it is, you have to realize that it can’t always be according to your plans!
Hopefully these tips will help give you a little bit of peace of mind and leave you free to enjoy all of the amazing holiday activities that I’m excited about! Number one on my list? Picking out and wrapping presents for everyone!