By Julie Fuimano and Cindy Diccianni
Has the anxiety over your holiday plans started yet? Have you
got a knot in your stomach at the thought of your mother-in-law's cooking? Do
you feel the pain in your pocket at the thought of all of the money you'll be
If this sounds familiar, take heart in the fact that you are not
alone. You are among tens of thousands of people who start to feel pangs of
dread descending upon them and stress levels rising as the holidays approach.
You may wonder if all this holiday fuss is worth it as you consider all of the
things that need to be done, schedules to coordinate, people to see, phone calls
to make, cards to send, food to cook and purchases to make. If you're like many,
you can't wait until the holidays are over. But you've forgotten the essential
ingredient of the holidays - magic. By choosing to get bogged down by the myriad
of details, you're not experiencing the true meaning of the holidays.
Yes, you made the choices that created your previous holiday
experiences. The good news is that if you weren't happy with your past
experiences, you can choose to do things differently. You work so hard all year
long; there is no reason to stress about the holidays. This year, make the
holidays meaningful by exploring new possibilities for a holiday filled with
peace and joy. By starting new traditions, you bring magic into the season.
Here are ten steps for creating a magical holiday season.
1. Consider what your perfect holiday would look like. Start
with the end in mind by visualizing what would bring you the most joy and
fulfillment. Who would you spend time with? Would you cook, go out or carry out?
Also, consider what you want the holidays to mean to you.
2. Choose to do only those things that you really enjoy (and
eliminate the things you don't). Yes, you do have a choice. If every year your
in-laws give you grief, consider letting your spouse go by his/herself and you
go to your parents alone. Or, you can limit the amount of time you spend there.
The point is you can decide to do the holiday things that bring you the most
3. Create new traditions that feel good. If every year you cook
for 50 people and your ideal holiday would have you cooking for only 10 people,
then do it! Let everyone know that this year you will be creating a new
tradition. Or, it may be time to consider rotating the cooking responsibility to
another family member. Consider your volunteer activities and assisting at a
soup kitchen either alone or as a family project. The best way to add meaning to
the holidays is to do something for those less fortunate. You'll also be more
grateful for what you have.
4. Communicate with your family, friends and coworkers about
their ideal holiday. Invite their input so they can participate in creating a
magical holiday. Without family and friends, it's not much of a holiday season.
Consider foregoing gifts this year and arranging to spend quality time together.
Perhaps you could decide on a project or volunteer activity that would bring
everyone together and add meaning rather than buying gifts that no one really
5. Plan ahead. Start planning in advance by creating a list of
the things you may need for your holiday. The more organized you are, the less
stress you will experience and the more fun you can make even the most mundane
activities (like having the children stamp letters!) You'll also want to plan
your volunteer activities early.
6. Create a budget. Consider the total amount of money you want
to spend this holiday. Write it down. If you have trouble deciding on an amount,
look at what you spent last year. Create a list identifying who gets gifts and
how much to spend for each person. If you don't have the money to spend, don't
go into debt. Consider baking or crafting something for the special people in
your life. No one expects you to spend your retirement money on gifts. Know your
7. Stay within your limit. Take care of your spending by closely
watching each dollar you spend. Creating a budget does no good unless you are
willing to stick to it. Keep track of all expenditures by creating a simple
spreadsheet. Every item including gifts, cards, wrapping paper, ornaments,
lights, etc. adds to the total cost of your holiday. Don't let holidays become
an excuse to go on a spending spree! By being more careful as to the purchases
you do make, you may find enough money to take an extra vacation next year or
make an extra mortgage payment. Our society creates the false belief that we
must purchase something for everyone we come in contact with throughout the
entire year. You can choose to not buy into this belief. Make donations in the
names of friends and family members. Refuse to spend your money frivolously -
you work too hard for every dollar you earn to waste any of it.
8. Limit your use of credit cards. If you use cash for all of
your purchases, you'll be less likely to overspend.
9. Keep it simple. The holidays need not be complicated and
overwhelming. If you feel yourself getting stressed, look for the source of your
physical or emotional resistance. Attempting to do too much or to be all things
to all people will not bring magic into your life. Keep it simple. Seek to
10. Think fun! Make decisions of how to spend your time based on
where you'll have the most fun. If you're thinking of having fun, there's not
much room for stress.
Create meaning and personal fulfillment by paying close
attention to what brings you the most joy. Talk with your family, friends and
coworkers about what worked and what you'd like to do different next year. Focus
on having fun and keeping it simple.
This year, choose to create a magical holiday, one that
creates the kinds of memories that last a lifetime. Make this your best holiday
Julie Fuimano and Cindy Diccianni are
co-founders of Nurturing Your Success, Inc., an organization dedicated to
educating, inspiring and promoting personal fulfillment in your life, career
and finances. You may visit them awww.nurturingyoursuccess.com
or write to them at