Planning ahead can make the holiday times much easier if not actually more enjoyable for you, and everyone around you.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and, with all of the following holidays, many of us put ourselves under more stress than is needed. We plan, or are invited to, events that we want to do, but also might not. We have to spend time with family members who get on our nerves, or co-workers that we would rather not see socially. Often, we spread ourselves so thin over the holidays that we don't enjoy them, gain weight, and/or get sick. We fret and worry about everything which can interrupt our sleep, and can lead to tension between ourselves and our family, or friends. This all ultimately makes the holidays more stress than they are worth.

So how do we change this so that we can have a relaxing holiday season?

  • The first thing we can do is to say no to events that we do not want to attend. Just because you were invited does not mean that you should go. To that end, if you are not going to have a fun time then don’t stay. If you have spent the last 3 weekends at events then give yourself some time off. If your company is having a white elephant gift exchange which you don't want to participate in then that is perfectly fine. 
  • Secondly, we can be a gracious guest, and ask if there is anything that we can bring to the event. This will help the organizer to be less stressed, and allow them to enjoy the event with everyone rather than being in the kitchen cooking. Some of my best Thanksgiving memories are of my family all meeting up at my grandparents house where everyone brought different dishes. The meal would be quite varied as a result. I would always mix the sauerkraut, corn, and mashed potatoes together while the rolls were thrown from one end of the table to the other. In fact, there were so many of us that some of us would sit on the couch instead of at the table.
  • A third thing to remember is that if you have special dietary needs then bring your own food; even eat before the event if you must. Asking the host if the food is gluten, dairy, or yeast free gets annoying for them, and often they are not even sure. As vegetarians, my husband and I always let family know we will bring our own entree, and ask that there be at least one vegetarian side if possible; even if we bring it ourselves. In these cases, our entree is often passed around leaving us with little because everyone wants to try it. So make sure you bring enough!
  • Fourthly, we know stress is going to be high, and so if we can limit/avoid sugar and alcohol that will help to ensure we get a good night sleep to help keep our immune systems healthy. One teaspoon of sugar will knock the immune system out for 4 hours; just a friendly reminder. Most of us have experienced alcohol where, yes, it might help us initially fall asleep, but it might also keep us awake in the middle of the night.
  • Lastly, make traditions that will work for your family. Kids are going to remember the holidays, of course, and we should all want them remembering the good bits instead of how mom and dad were at each others throats because of poor planning. Don’t stretch yourselves too thin. 

So enjoy these special times as one day those memories of grandma’s house during the holidays might be some of the most important for you, or, at the very least, for your children. In closing, we wish you all the best with the upcoming holidays, enjoy time with family and friends, but please don’t forget to take care of yourself. 

Image: Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (Wikipedia) (Public Domain)