How to Avoid Overwhelm During the Holidays

time management Dec 08, 2022

My eyes welled up as I rolled cookie dough balls amidst flour-dusted countertops and a tower of dishes taller than me in the kitchen sink.


What I had intended to be a fun day of baking with my family had ended with a screaming match and me up to my eyeballs in cookie dough and left alone to fill 3 dozen cookie tins with a cute bow on top.


Some of my best holiday memories were baking cookies with mom and this cookie explosion in my kitchen left me feeling like a failure and completely overwhelmed.


Now I know better and I’m happy to report that I’m looking forward to baking cookies this year. In fact, my whole scrooge attitude for the holidays has turned around thanks to my new outlook on avoiding overwhelm.


I want to share with you how I have gotten to this new outlook and the secret is creating reasonable expectations during the holidays. In the scene I described above, I was trying to bake sugar cookies. You know, those perfectly formed gingerbread cookies or whatever shapes I had at the time. My kids were pretty young and I had this completely unreasonable expectation of Pinterest-perfect sugar cookies. 


The recipes we use now are easier, and I just let things go if they get messy. It is a whole lot easier and more enjoyable to bake for the holidays. During this season of holiday cheer, I would like to take you through all the different aspects of the holidays, and how we can reset our expectations in order to avoid being overwhelmed and to have more fun. 


Two weeks ago, when I was decorating my holiday tree, I was put to the test. We decorated the tree without my husband this year because he was away and so me and the kids decorated it together. My son was so excited about it. When my son dropped an ornament about five minutes into decorating, I lost it and yelled at him to step away from the tree. I quickly realized my mistake.  I wanted this to be fun. We separated for a bit and I apologized.  We got peppermint steaks and we ended up getting the tree decorated. Was every ornament placed where I wanted it to be? No, but that's okay. 


It's the memories that matter. Lowering our expectations of what the holidays look like is so much healthier but at the same time, we need to make space for all of those emotions. expectations of what this holiday is going to be white. Let's get into a couple of different areas that trip people up.


Setting reasonable expectations during a holiday or travel is the first area I want to discuss. There are a lot of things that may arise when you travel, whether you're visiting family or friends or going on a vacation. The weather and getting sick are two of the most common reasons for travel plans to be thrown off. Making a backup plan is the best way to avoid trouble and enjoy your holiday. You might not be able to make it to Grandma this year because she's sick or the weather is bad. Whatever it may be. Come up with a plan B that everybody loves. One go-to that I've actually been using forever is going to the movies. There are always new releases over the holidays. 


Setting reasonable expectations also applies to gifting. The recession is constantly in the news. Your budget may be smaller this year, but your family and friends aren't used to getting smaller gifts. I'm sure everyone will understand for one, but coming up with creative ways to work with a smaller budget can make you feel better about it. Recently, I shared on Instagram a tribute to my late mother-in-law. Often, she would gift money in very creative ways. The last gift she gave was really sweet. It was a pizza box, and she used small envelopes to create a cool design inside. Each envelope had a $5 bill in it. How can you be creative with your gift? You can also make gifts more personal. Extra thought and care you can put into gifting makes working with a smaller budget that much easier. It also feels like you're giving in a way that feels genuine and that's what the season is all about. 


Time to deck the halls. We can get overwhelmed with the budget or the time it takes to decorate for such a very small season. Some people love it and that's fantastic!  If it feels like too much, let go of what's not important to you. One way I like to do this is to focus on a small area of your house that really feels holiday. For us, that is our formal living room because that is where we celebrate and that's where the Christmas tree is. If I get to the rest of the house, great!  if I don't, that's okay. 


I hope that gives you guys some resources on how to void overwhelm during this holiday season by lowering expectations and different aspects of holidays.

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