Tis’ the season to be jolly, right?
Of course! It’s Christmas after all and nobody likes a Grinch around the holidays. But it should go without saying that between fighting the shopping crowds (and shopping traffic), managing the decorations, going to your kids’ holiday concerts and school parties and making sure that there’s Christmas Eve and Christmas day dinner prepared, the holidays can have the tendency to be anything but jolly. Instead, words like “stressful,” “aggravating” and “hectic” might be better descriptors – and this can take its toll.
So what’s the key to not turning into Ebenezer Scrooge this holiday season? For starters, do your best to take everything in stride and try not to obsess over creating the perfect Christmas for you and your family. We know, that’s much easier said than done, so here are a few more specific pointers to include in your holiday survival guide:
Making your list and checking it twice: Nothing quite has the potential to destroy one’s holiday spirit like a crowded store or shopping mall. Throw in the fact that inventory is more likely to be picked over this time of year and things can get frustrating. So make your list, check it twice and get your shopping done early. Look for deals before Thanksgiving so you’re not scrambling at the last minute. If you can’t and you just hate fighting the traffic and the crowds following Thanksgiving and don’t want to “pack your patience,” shop online. “Cyber Monday” is becoming more popular by the year.
Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree: You don’t need to deck out your home like Clark Griswold from Christmas Vacation, but there’s nothing like a little Christmas décor to get your family into the holiday spirit. Here’s some pointers on managing this:
The tree: Get a firm, secure tree stand. Anchor your tree into a stud in a nearby wall if it’s still unsteady after you plug it in the stand. If you have cats and dogs that you don’t want jumping on the tree and tearing down your lights and ornaments, purchase some liquid repellent to spray on your tree to keep the animals at bay.
The lights: Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the lights. But Christmas lights can turn frustrating if you’re dealing with breaking bulbs and dud lights, not to mention overloading and blowing fuses. So consider buying plastic lights – that way you won’t have to worry about glass bulbs breaking when you’re hanging them. Plus, they can easily be swapped out (and they’re safer too). To be sure you’re not overloading fuses, invest in a surge protector.
The Gifts: With all the gifts you’re due to receive around Christmas, there’s bound to be a few that you’re not all that thrilled about. So keep in mind that it’s better to give than to receive this time of year, and put on a good face when old Uncle Merle gives you socks again. Remember, if you express your disdain about a particular gift, you’re not only becoming a Grinch yourself, but you’re likely hurting someone else’s feelings. That’s not the Christmas way!
Better yet, help out family members that need assistance shopping. Take a half day of work and help Grandma and Grandpa pick out gifts for everyone on their shopping list. Or work with your kids to make sure that the arts and crafts projects are done correctly so that their gift recipients get something they’ll truly like.
Run out of wrapping paper? If you can’t buy more, use old newspaper, use tissue paper, or place items into a gift bag. Remember, it’s the thought that counts the most.
Food: It just wouldn’t be the holiday season without lots of delicious food. And if Christmas dinner is at your home this year, it’s best to spread out the food wealth. Tell all your guests that you’ll cook the turkey, but divvy up other dishes so that all the work doesn’t fall on you. Tell Aunt Linda to bring a salad, have Cousin Bob bring the potatoes and have your in-laws bring desert. By dividing up the meal items, you’ll have more time to concentrate on the dish you’re responsible for, which makes it more likely to turn out just right!
Did you still burn the turkey? Don’t fret – it’s fixable. First, cut the burnt skin away and add butter to the meat to prevent it from drying out. You won’t be able to carve it, but you will still be able to enjoy it – and that’s a lot better than ruining the most important part of the meal and saving you tons of frustration.
Not a chef? No worries! There are many great companies that will take care of Christmas dinner for you like Honey Baked Ham. Even better, many restaurants have Christmas dinner specials with multiple courses and festive decorations.
Always plan a great dessert. Even if you don’t want to cook or bake, a rough Christmas dinner can always be brought back to life with delicious dessert. Chocolate chip cookies, apple pie, or even ice cream can make your Christmas party bounce back, so don’t forget this special step!
There, you did it! You survived Christmas without turning into Billy Bob Thornton’s character from Bad Santa. And better yet, your family is full, happy and occupied with all the great gifts you picked out for them. Sounds like a good time to turn on the TV, catch the second half of the Christmas Day NFL football game and reward yourself on a job well done with a glass or two of the leftover wine and eggnog.
After all, tis’ the season to be jolly.