Sunday, November 22, 2009

Holiday Ease (Part 1)

During a recent discussion about the upcoming holiday season, one of my dearest friends mentioned the stress that always seems to befall her this time of year. “The shopping, the cooking, traveling, planning outfits for parties and dinners….it’s just too much!” she proclaimed. I agreed with her, of course – it is too much.

It doesn’t have to be, though.

Through sheer determination and trial and error, I’ve discovered a few tricks that can make for a hassle-free holiday:

Early online shopping
My family and I post wish lists on and other websites. That way, we know what to get each other, and we can relay what we’d like to have (it’s a much more refined way of saying, “Buy this for me, please.”)

Do consider gifts that keeps on giving. proved to be a big hit with my mother last Christmas (she receives a couple of bottles from around the world each month). Magazine subscriptions are also a nice option.

Fabulously easy feasts
Unless you enjoy spending most of the season in the kitchen, I encourage you to consider catering Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Many restaurants and grocery stores offer some sort of prepared fare at reasonable prices. I’m not allowed in the kitchen, so this is a necessity in the Newman house.

Mr. Kent and I travel a great deal during the year, and we’ve finally reached that comfortable position of letting family know we’ll spend the season at home, and those who wish to join us are more than welcome to do so. No more “We spent last year with your mother, so this year we must visit my folks…”

If this isn’t an option for you (loved ones unable to travel, etc.), please realize this: December 25 is merely a date; the spirit of the season can fall wherever you chose. I knew a woman whose daughter was stationed in Iraq during the holidays. When the daughter returned on leave – in June- the family celebrated Christmas then, complete with a tree, wrapped gifts, the works.

The point is to work around various schedules, and to make time whenever you can for stress-free family visits.

Party Frocks
If you don’t know yet what you’re wearing to holiday parties, decide now. It will save you a tremendous amount of agitation to already have your outfit in place. Remember, too, that you need not accept every party invitation – this will certainly help in the wardrobe department. I learned this the hard way a few years ago, so I now limit myself to one Christmas bash hosted by friends, the bash Mr. Kent and I host each year, New Year’s Eve, and my birthday, which falls right after the new year. That’s only four party frocks I’ll need. I will be wearing three from previous seasons, and one new splurge that I’ve yet to find.

A carefree holiday season can exist. It just requires careful planning and going easy on oneself. It is the most wonderful time of the year - enjoy!

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