When the holiday season is just a tinsel-coated glimmer on the horizon, it’s easy to make grand plans. Why not host a neighborhood open house, make gifts and bake five kinds of cookies? It’ll be so festive! That is, until your energy fizzles out and you consider going into hibernation. You may have lots of energy now, but remember, you’re in this for the long haul. To avoid burnout, it helps to make holiday plans with your future (possibly tired) self in mind.
1. The trap: Stressing over “perfect” decorations. What with holiday lights (indoor and outdoor), the tree, special linens, plates and pillows, there is no clear end to holiday decorating. And if you’ve been collecting decor for years, chances are it’s quite a process to get it all put up. If decking the halls brings you great joy, by all means, give it your all! But if it has begun to be more of a burden than a pleasure, give yourself permission to simplify.
What to do instead: Mindfully scale back. Consider which elements of your holiday decor are the most meaningful to you and put those up. Then stop to see how your home feels. If it feels good, put the rest away (or even better, give it away).
2. The trap: Baking (way) more cookies than your family needs. Once you start a cookie baking tradition, it’s quite easy for it to grow (and grow) until you’re baking more cookies than can comfortably fit on the surfaces in your kitchen.
What to do instead: Keep holiday baking fun and low pressure. Instead of pressuring yourself to make cookies for every remote acquaintance, consider what amount of baking would bring you and your family joy. One big cookie baking day or several smaller baking projects spread over a few weekends? Store-bought dough or homemade? There is no right answer: Find the level of commitment that’s right for you and leave it at that.
3. The trap: Wrapping every gift with elaborate wrap and ribbon.I love wrapping gifts, and every year, I inevitably become entranced by some new idea for packaging up presents. The problem is when the gifts begin to pile up, and the “fun” wrapping party with cocoa and carols becomes a chore to get through as quickly as possible.
What to do instead: Keep gift-wrapping simple by mixing in some reusable bags. By keeping reusable gift bags on hand (including some extra-large ones for hard-to-wrap gifts), you can pick and choose where you expend your wrapping efforts.
4. The trap: Setting DIY gift goals too high. Now is not the time to learn a new skill, bust out the sewing machine that hasn’t seen the light of day for years, start knitting a Fair Isle sweater or buy expensive crafting tools. There is a special level of stress experienced only by the homemade gift maker approaching an impossible deadline. Don’t let that be you.
What to do instead: Choose one or two projects within your comfort zone. If (and only if!) you want to make some gifts by hand, choose a technique you are already familiar with and make just one or two projects in bulk. If you love to cook, whip up a big batch of granola or chocolate bark. If you knit, pick a quick hat or scarf pattern on big needles. And if your crafting efforts don’t go as planned, give yourself permission to scrap them, guilt-free.
5. The trap: Taking on a major photo organizing project. With the end of the year approaching, it’s tempting to think that this is a great time to finally get all those old photos organized. Let me assure you: It’s not. You already have plenty on your plate, and taking on a massive organizing task is the last thing you need.
What to do instead: Tag and file new photos as you upload them this holiday season.Just because this isn’t a good time to organize that backlog of digital photos doesn’t mean you should neglect the new ones you’re taking now. In fact, since you’ll probably be taking a lot of photos over the holidays, this is a good time to get into the habit of naming photos to make them easier to find in the future.
6. The trap: Sending fancy holiday photo cards. If you already have the perfect photo to use, that’s one thing. If you still need to wrangle children into a photo shoot (with coordinating outfits, no less), gather addresses and choose a card design, consider giving yourself a pass on the fancy holiday cards this year.
What to do instead: Go for simple cards or wait until after the holidays. If you enjoy the tradition of sending out holiday cards but not the pressure of the “perfect” family photo shoot, try using a photoless design. Or wait until the holiday craziness has passed and send out New Year’s cards instead.
7. The trap: Overbooking your weekends. Events and outings can take a lot out of us, energywise. And a weekend with more than two big events (for example, a Friday night holiday party, a big shopping trip and a play) can leave everyone feeling exhausted.
What to do instead: Schedule downtime. Block out time for easy, relaxing activities like reading by the fire, sipping hot cocoa and taking walks — and protect this time just as you would any other event or appointment. Aim for a healthy mix each week that intersperses big events with low-key activities that will recharge your batteries.
8. The trap: Taking on an extra home project to “get ready” for company. If you’re planning to host a holiday party or know you’ll be having overnight guests, it can be tempting to use the impending visit as an excuse to take on a big home project — like redecorating the guest room. But tackling such a project when the holidays are just around the corner is likely to add stress and put a wrench in your budget.
What to do instead: Skip the extra work and take a nap. Your friends and family are coming to see you, not your house — and there’s no better way to ensure that you’re healthy and energetic when they arrive than catching some extra rest while you can. Home projects? There’s always next year.
This article orginally appeared on Houzz.com (author: Laura Gaskill)