The holiday season is a rush of pumpkin spice, glittery packages and bows and festive tunes, but it can also become a stressful mix of expectations, expenses and bad examples of how to treat others. Start your New Year's resolutions early this year by committing to dissolve the stress of the holidays like a handful of marshmallows in a mug of hot cocoa–or an ounce of whiskey (in that same mug). Whatever works!
Breathe deep breaths.
Are the holidays getting overwhelming? First things first: Pause the holiday music, take a step back and inhale deeply. Focus on the reason you're putting forth all this effort–be it your faith, family, food or all of the above–and try to keep centered based on that singular thought. Give yourself (and your kids) time to relax from schedules that inevitably become busy this time of year, even if it means missing out on an event or two.
Give to others to gain perspective.
When you find yourself (or your kids) wrapped up in the details of the holidays, refocus on those in your community who aren't as well off. Take the opportunity to donate to a local charity of your family's choosing. Even better, give your family's time by volunteering at a soup kitchen, shopping for an Angel Tree or supporting another venture of your choosing. You'll be surprised at how small those aforementioned details become once you focus on giving back.
Take it easy.
When it comes to holiday entertaining, choose make-ahead items, such as casseroles and easy-to-serve feasts like large cheese and charcuterie boards–both perfect for serving a crowd. This lets you spend more time out of the kitchen, enjoying yourself with family and friends.
Avoid the mall and shop small.
One of the most important parts of maintaining holiday sanity is to keep expenditures reasonable. Keep gifts small and special, or participate in a family drawing where each member of the family is only purchasing for one other member. Other ideas include creating handmade gifts, shopping at local stores and buying online in advance of the holidays to limit last minute stress and over-spending.
Flip the script.
If the traditional holiday isn't working for you, change your tradition! It's as easy as that. Shake off the shackles of whatever you did last year (or every year), and do something new instead. Odds are, your kids will remember the fun they had with a happy, relaxed parent, even if it means eating takeout in the dining room on Christmas Eve.
Just add humor.
When all else fails and nothing is going right, laugh it off. Snowed in? Play charades and laugh 'till it hurts. Holiday photos look more like a post-apocalyptic horror film? Everyone will love a silly card in the mailbox! Dinner crashed and burned? Order a pizza and enjoy yourself. The point is, nothing fixes a bad mood quite like a sense of humor. After all, the holidays are meant to bring families together, not stress them out with unrealistic expectations.