“My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?” -Bob Hope
~The Simple Sophisticate podcast, episode#14
Officially, the holiday season kicks off here in the states this week with Thursday’s Thanksgiving, but for everyone else around the world the holiday season whether you celebrate Hanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa or simply the end of yet another year and the beginning of another, has already begun.
And as someone who looks forward to those certain once a year traditional gatherings, events, movies and songs such as waking to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade or singing along to cheesy pop holiday ballads such as Wham!’s “This Christmas”, there are aspects that I could do without – the stretched budget, the few extra pounds and those have-tos that nobody really enjoys – waiting 6-8 hours for a turkey and receiving random gifts that you will have to restore somewhere and wouldn’t know how to use even if you knew what it was.
So today, our goal is to turn the upcoming holiday season into the most memorable and least stressful holiday season you’ve ever experienced. In other words, into a simply luxurious experience – one in which quality moments and memories are created and the extra have-tos that bog us all down are eliminated as much as possible.
Now, as we go through these eight strategies, it is important to note that everyone upon applying them to their holiday season will come up with their own interpretation. For example, you may be someone who can’t imagine giving up the baking while someone else is completely happy picking up dessert at the local patisserie. The key is to realize you are curating a holiday season that will enable you at the end of 2014 to sit down with a smile of contentment knowing the holiday season provided a full and memorable experience and your waistline and budget are still in check. Let’s get started.
1. Sit Down and Plan
Make this a fun experience. Carve out a few hours one afternoon or take some time during the weekend and turn this into an annual ritual you look forward to. By setting the tone for the holiday season as one of anticipation and excitement, the likelihood that it will materialize increases. While some of your holiday plans may already be set – such as the travel arrangements if you are flying to visit family – other items still need to be tended to.
First, determine your purpose for celebrating the holidays. Evaluate each tradition you and your family involve yourselves in and determine if they heighten or hinder the overall experience that is your intended purpose. Now is also a great time to plan your gift list if you haven’t already begun as well as send out invitations to any holiday parties you hold at your house. After all, everyone else’s schedule is bombarded as well, so you want to make sure those that can come will be able to make it work in their schedule.
2. Simplify the Decor
Determine again the purpose of decorating and then determine when you cross the line from enjoyment to stress. After all, the purpose of decorating our homes is to welcome the holiday cheer and set a certain tone throughout our space, but if doing so aggravates or stresses us out, perhaps consider limiting what you do – pare down to what you genuinely couldn’t imagine not hanging or stringing – garland, stockings, outdoor lights, etc. And then be done. After all, you will have to store these items for 11 months, and then you will have to put them away at the end of the year. Do what lifts the spirits of you and those you love, and eliminate what does not. Remember the decor is the backdrop so that you can create moments and experiences that allow the magic to happen.
3. Budget and Don’t Apologize
While the list to Santa may be long, we always have to keep in mind our budget. And in order to ensure that January is not a month to dread, we will be thankful for being disciplined. Remember the act of gift giving is to convey our love and let those we hold dear know we are thinking of them. Whether we give someone our time, an experience they will not forget or pick up a gift that is priceless regardless of the price tag, that is the goal, not to check off each item that they may want. And if you have a large family, and the money won’t stretch far enough, why not organize a family gift exchange?
~Money posts from the Archives
4. Be Stocked for Moments
One of the things I love most about the holidays is the opportunity for memorable moments. Whether it is sitting by the fire, having delicious nibbles for guests who happen to stop by and losing all track of time as the conversation dances along, in order to enable such moments to materialize is to do a little prior planning. Stock your cupboard with quality chocolate so that you can whip up a decadent sipping chocolate, pick up a most wonderful sipping bourbon for those few family members or friends who would easily sit down and chat if they had something to hold and savor. Have cookies on hand for the kids and have music at the ready. In other words, when we plan for such moments while we can’t guarantee they will happen, we can take advantage when the moments are presented.
5. Plan Your Style
Holiday parties with friends and family, end of the year work parties and attending special events. The holidays are crammed full of amazing social soirees, so just as planning your calendar is important, so too is planning your wardrobe. That perfect dress you’ve had your eye on or the sequin sandals should be purchased and tucked in your closet well before the night they will be needed. This will eliminate stress and ensure you are confident and stunning for each event you attend further adding to amazing holiday experience.
~Be sure to stop by the blog at the end of the week for a list of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and promo codes to save your budget and keep you in style as well as help you complete your holiday shopping list.
6. To Cook or Not to Cook
This particular strategy has everything to do with your preference. If you associate the holidays with food, baking and making your friends’ and family’s favorite treats and savory side dishes, then you probably won’t tweak this one; however, what I would suggest is then tweaking other things on your holiday to-do list so that you can throw yourself more fully into what you love doing in the kitchen.
If you aren’t overly attached to working in the kitchen, look at your schedule, your budget and what you need and consider stopping by your favorite food establishments to pick up delicious favorites that will save you time which ultimately saves you money. After all, much like the decor, the food should be the backdrop that completes, but is not the entire evening or event. It is the people, the conversation, the activity that will ensure the event is memorable.
7. Create a Wrapping Toolbox
One of the simplest strategies that actually can be used year round is to create a wrapping toolbox that includes one or two different solid color wrapping paper designs (print if you prefer), and a handful of yards of ribbon that can be reused each year. After all, when we wrap the gifts, they are a form of the decoration under the tree and many will sit there patiently for weeks before December 25th. So why not keep it simple, yet beautiful? Stop by your local fabric store as often they will have sales just before the holidays or throughout the year, pick up playful ribbons that speak to you and once the gift is unwrapped keep the ribbon for a future gift.
Additional supplies to include: scissors, double stick tape, gift tags, boxes, bags and wine bags.
8. Ensure January is One of the Best Months of the Year
Often we forget that when the holidays are over, life goes on, and when this happens we don’t give January a chance to be the most amazing month it can be. After all, it is the start to a new year, and we need to set the tone we wish to continue throughout the year. Here are eight things to keep an eye on during the holiday season to make sure January is one of the best months of the year:
- eat well
- adhere to your regular exercise routine
- drink alcohol in moderation and always alternate with water (podcast #13 – How to Create Glowing Skin)
- schedule holiday beauty routines well in advance and don’t cancel – not only will you look your best, but you will feel far better as well no matter how busy your schedule is
- get proper rest
- stick to your priorities – let those you love know you are thinking of them – spend time with them, consider thoughtful gifts and let them know you appreciate them
- keep your budget in check
- leave time at the end of the year to just be
As we wrap up, I hope what you’ve recognized is that the goal of creating an enjoyable holiday season is not to control the outcome, but to do the necessary preparation before it all begins so that we can let it unfold as it will allowing for the opportunity to sit back and savor the goodness, the hiccups, and the many memories that won’t soon be forgotten.
Because so long as we’ve done the proper preparation and planning before and we have our priorities straight, it will happen. It will be indeed a simply luxurious holiday season.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The 8 Pillars to Build a Simply Luxurious Life (Podcast #1)
~Idina Menzel, Holiday Wishes
~Songs spotlighted on the podcast
~TSLL of Idina Menzel’s current Broadway show – If/Then (running through December 21st)