The holiday season is chock full of additional, and often unrealistic, expectations around entertaining relatives, parties, decorating, shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning and traveling. All this activity fills what little whitespace remained on your already-crammed calendar. Emotions run high filled with seasonal stress, as well as crowded mall parking lots, airports and freeways. If you prefer peace and joy, rather than more pressure and juggling, put the following survival strategy to work:

Embrace a Less is More Mindset. By choosing to buy less, do less, or do (fill in the blank) less perfectly, you’ll immediately trade in chaos for calm.

Granted, online shopping saves time, but look for shortcuts at every turn. For example, rather than purchase individual gifts for colleagues, show up with an edible everyone can enjoy. Better yet, make a pact to skip gift-giving entirely in lieu of a coffee date next quarter deepening a relationship. My hairstylist appreciates receiving the finely wrapped thyme candle gift, and shared she also appreciates my gift bottle of wine minus bag or bow.

Rather than slave over a stove, grab and go instead. The homemade, smoked trout crostinis with dill sauce someone brought to a recent party I attended were devoured and enjoyed — but then again, so was the Costco shrimp platter.

Rather than put up outdoor lights or even a Christmas tree, hang a beautiful wreath or create a mantle display. Skip the greeting cards and send a photo card from next year’s vacation if you must.
Depending on the ages and stages of your family, align gift giving with a less is more approach. Now that my own daughters are grown, the packages under the tree are few. They’re blessed to have enough stuff, and I’d rather create memories through experiences together. My sweetheart and I gave up gift-giving years ago and instead contribute to a vacation account for the same reason. In fact, we’ve adopted a BOGO (Buy One, Goodbye One) philosophy when it comes to adding items to our life to reduce stress and clutter.

Rather than accept numerous holiday invitations, ask yourself, “Will this activity bring me or my family more joy? Will it allow us to deepen our connection to others?” By limiting your commitments, you’ll maintain your sanity, but also your credibility as you’ll prevent last minute cancellations. Prioritize one or two events that mean the most to you and/or your family and then let the rest go. Here’s some phraseology that might make it easier: “I appreciate being included, however my calendar is fully committed.” If you’re uncertain, give yourself an out. “I will try to attend, but please don’t count on me given my obligations that day.” If pushed, you can respond, “Thank you, and the timing doesn’t work this year.” It’s okay to be missed.

Remember, choosing to do less does not equate to being less. It means you’re time savvy and gives others permission to do the same. For those of you rolling your eyes, here’s the truth: If you’re determined to create a perfect Pinterest holiday, don’t be surprised when you find yourself sick, crabby, or exhausted. Good luck being present or creating connections with others in that state! Instead, give yourself the gift of doing less or doing things less perfectly. Seek connection, not perfection, to discover the true joy of the season.

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