01 Dec Tips for a Happy Festive Season
The Christmas season is wonderful. There is so much to do and see – from light adorned houses, to Santa and his helpers – it’s no surprise that our kids love it.
But sometimes, often in fact, the Christmas season can become really overwhelming. There is a vast amount of organising and decorating and wrapping. And there is shopping to do, food to prepare and family and friends to see. It can feel like too much – too much time, too much money and too much stress. But there are ways we can light up the festive season without succumbing to doing ‘too much’.
Here are our tips for a happy festive season.
Tips for a Happy Festive Season
Giving the Gift of Time
The holiday season is a great time to refocus on putting family first. And one of the best ways to do this is by giving the gift of time.
Giving the gift of time is one of the best Christmas presents you can give to your family and one of our top tips for enjoying the holidays. Spending time together, going to see the Christmas lights, baking gingerbread men or simply hanging out, are some of the most important and memorable gifts we can give to each other.
Rather than a new shirt for your husband, spend the money on a babysitter and go do something fun. Instead of organising a bottle of champagne for your best friend, ask her out for lunch. And make sure you aren’t cramming in so much festive fun, that you aren’t actually having fun at all with the kids.
Don’t be a Hero or a Dictator
It’s easy to get swept up in the Christmas planning – who will host Christmas lunch or who is going to have the big family Boxing Day party. Sometimes we are tempted to be the hero – to take it all on ourselves. Other times, we might find ourselves steamrolling over the desires of our family members.
When it comes to holiday planning it is best to be collaborative and flexible. Talk to your family members about what they want to do for Christmas or what suits their schedule. Your normal Christmas lunch might not work for your sister with little ones who nap. Or maybe your brother’s new wife has a yearly Christmas Eve party that conflicts with your Christmas Eve dinner.
Whatever it is, get together and decide with your loved ones what you want to do together to celebrate the holiday season in a meaningful way. Incorporate everyone’s ideas as much as possible and delegate responsibilities among each other. Everyone will enjoy themselves more and the celebration will be unique and meaningful to your family.
Let it go.
Christmas is not the time to bring up family dramas, or long-standing arguments. For now, let it go. Even if you have difficult family members who just seem determined to ruin your holidays, brush it off – try not to take it too seriously. Limiting your alcohol intake and talking to someone outside your family about your family situation can also help you get through it.
It’s also OK to set boundaries. You don’t have to attend every family function. If family dramas are making you stressed or you feel a sense of dread about attending a family event, just don’t do it. Set your boundaries and stick to them.
Remember, at the end of the day the only behaviour you can control is your own.
Another of our favourite tips for enjoying the holidays – just say no. Say no when something is just too much, or when you feel yourself being stretched too thin. Say no when it’s something that will make you feel badly or isn’t good for your wellbeing. And say no to spending too much or giving too much. It’s OK. People might be determined to be disappointed, let them be.
Unspoiling the Kids (and Ourselves!)
There is nothing like buying the perfect gift for someone you love. The look of rapture on your son’s face when you’ve picked just the right skateboard, or the excitement from your wife when she opens up a beautiful pair of earrings. But research shows that materialism is associated with anxiety, depression, broken relationships, lowered wellbeing and self-esteem and even poor physical health.
But this doesn’t mean that we have to stop giving gifts at Christmas! Instead, we need to work on instilling a sense of gratitude for those gifts. Teaching our kids, and ourselves, to be grateful for what is valuable and meaningful to us actually makes us have more hope and happiness.
Try talking about the things you are grateful for in your life. Ask your family to do the same. Looking outward also helps – think about what you can do for someone else, rather than what you can be getting yourself.
The festive season is a time for joy, love and togetherness. Following these tips for a happy festive season will help you bring the light back to the holidays.
Author: Di O’Malley – Founder and Managing Director of Young Minds Health and Development Network and Counselling Psychologist.
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