Posted on November 4, 2015 at 6:00 am
Halloween is over and November is upon us, which means the holiday season is kicking into high gear. Thanks to lifestyle magazines, blogs, Instagram, and especially Pinterest, we’re bombarded with images of the perfect holiday decor, gourmet meals made from scratch, and seemingly easy DIY gifts. I’m an admitted Pinterestaholic and there are definitely times I get sucked into the “I want my life to look picture-perfect” vortex.
Last year I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time in my little one-bedroom apartment. I borrowed my mom’s china and tablecloth and did my best to set a lovely, Pinterest-worthy table. It turned out better than I expected, but what I took away most from that experience was that it didn’t really matter what my table looked like as long as I got to spend time with my family and enjoy a good meal. During the holidays it’s easy to get stressed out and lose sight of what’s really important. Here are a few strategies to help you get everything done and still find joy this holiday season.
Plan holiday outings in advance and put them on your calendar.
Thanksgiving and Christmas bring a multitude of local events, shows, and outings. I don’t have a family of my own quite yet, but I’m fortunate to live close to my parents, which means we can experience the Inland Northwest’s holiday splendor together. At the beginning of the season, we scour The Inlander, Spokesman-Review, and local news sites like KHQ to determine all of the festivities that are happening around the county. Last year after reviewing our options, we looked at our calendars together and picked several things to do during November and December. Planning ahead helps everyone have a say in the process and ensures that we have some time set aside to enjoy being together as a family.
Start making DIY Christmas presents now and pick something you already know how to make.
I’d love to make each of my girlfriends fabulous jewelry from Make a Statement: 25 Handcrafted Jewelry & Accessory Projects, but I’ve learned the hard way that the holidays are not the time to try and master a new skill in order to make the perfect Christmas gift. Whether it’s knitting, sewing, painting, or some other crafty skill, I recommend picking a DIY project that you already know how to do. Not only will this save you time, it will also keep your stress levels at a manageable level and result in you actually completing your presents in time for Christmas.
Last year I made these budget-friendly scrap ribbon tree ornaments for friends and they were a big hit. For more inspiration, I recommend browsing our awesome list of OverDrive eBook titles: Wrap This! Craft The (Almost) Perfect Gift. Now go get crafting!
Choose one or two new holiday recipes to try, not 10 (or 20).
The holidays usually mean you’re going to spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking and baking for holiday meals, parties, and other get-togethers. Gwendolyn’s written before about the wonders of the 641 section of the library, and I admittedly have the ineffective habit of checking out multiple cookbooks at a time only to actually try one new recipe before it’s time to return them. In addition to the cookbooks in print and eBook form, I also enjoy using Zinio for Libraries to find delicious recipes in magazines like Food Network Magazine, Country Living, and Taste of Home.
With all of these recipes at your fingertips, it’s easy to want to try everything. To prevent getting overwhelmed, I recommend browsing your favorite cookbooks and magazines and then selecting only one or two new recipes to try during the holiday season. That way you can still enjoy trying something new without taking on the impossible task of creating an entire gourmet Thanksgiving dinner based off of recipes you’re trying for the first time. Your family will thank you, trust me on this one.
Identify a stress-reduction method that works for you and practice it regularly.
Anyone who says the holidays aren’t a stressful time has probably been sipping a little too much spiked eggnog. We all handle stress differently and it’s important to figure out what stress-reduction method works for you. Does listening to your favorite music calm you down? Check out a CD from the library’s collection or browse hoopla to find an album and download it directly to your smartphone. Feel like you don’t have enough time to stop and relax? Set aside 20 minutes and try one of Kelsey’s mini-vacations to keep your mental and emotional health in check. I know it’s a little cliche but I’m a big fan of bubble baths. Taking a short walk, even if it’s just around the block, is another quick way to reduce stress especially in those heated moments when you feel like you just can’t take anymore gift wrapping or gingerbread cookies.
No matter how hectic things might get, one thing I try to remember is that I don’t have to be perfect for my family and friends to love me. The most important thing about the holiday season is spending time with the people you love. Take a second to breathe and feel the magic of the season.
Cheers to a wonderful (less stressful) holiday season!