You may think it is too soon to start with holiday advice; however, Halloween is right around the corner. Before you know it you will be broke, fighting the crowds at the stores and nursing your work holiday party hangover – and yes, you really did say that to your boss.
If every year you end up in the same vicious cycle, it is time to reevaluate your holiday strategy. Having a plan in place can help you navigate parties, spending on gifts and the general excess that has become synonymous with the holidays.
Your first strategy should include serious calendar management. Many people do not feel they can say no to all of the holiday invites, especially when they come from family and friends. We like to have our holiday party in January, when most people have de-stressed – the vibe is so much better. If there is a standing party you want to cut out but do not want to offend your host, see if they want to make dinner plans in January. I find when I host a party I do not always get to chat with every single person there. A one-on-one dinner would give you and your friend more time to catch up.
Next up is managing your finances. Creating a budget that will allow you to purchase gifts within your means can make or break you financially for the following year. Choosing the right gift does not have to break the bank; in fact, some of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever gotten were not expensive. There are plenty of great ideas on the Internet, and if you are crafty nothing beats homemade gifts. If you are not crafty, there are plenty of reasonable retailers that will make homemade gifts.
Focus on your friends’ and family’s hobbies and interests. It sounds like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised at how difficult it is to purchase for the people who can buy themselves whatever they want. With those tough customers I like to purchase experiences. Consider gifting tickets to plays, musicals, concerts, improv shows, wine tastings or gift certificates to a new restaurant – you get the picture.
You have your crazy social calendar and your finances covered, now it is time to talk about indulgence. I have heard that the average American gains eight pounds over the holidays. Between Halloween candy, Thanksgiving Tofurkey, Soynogg and champagne, there is no doubt we increase our food intake between October 31 and January 1. One option to reduce your indulgence is to eat before you go out. If you are full, you may not be as tempted or as hungry to overeat. You can also allow yourself only the foods you really like – the dishes that are completely worth it.
As for holiday drinking, drinking to excess is never fun. If you have to drink, especially at a work function, alternate your drinks with water. If you do not want to drink but also do not want to attract any attention, order a seltzer with a splash of cranberry and lime twist; no one would be the wiser.
Maintaining a regular exercise routine during the holidays can be a challenge as well. Try to get in some sort of physical activity. If you have to go shopping, parking your car as far from the entrance as possible, taking the stairs instead of the escalator and lugging around heavy bags can be quite the workout. Taking a walk during your lunch hour can also help if you cannot squeeze in a regular, scheduled workout.
Last but certainly not least, the most important thing to take care of is you! Making room for quiet time is more important than you think. I suggest you schedule it if you have a hard time getting away from the computer or whatever else is going on in your world. One great way to relax is running a hot bath with some epsom salts and lavender essential oil. Lying down and listening to relaxing music can also help you to unwind. I like to listen to meditations – my mind does not wander as much and the background music is usually very soothing.
It is never too early to make the commitment to take care of yourself for the holidays. Now you have time to plan your holiday survival strategy.
Did this post remind you of other holiday pitfalls to steer clear of? Any tips you want to share with fellow readers? Let us know in the comments below.