The holidays are coming! The excitement builds and we vow to ourselves that THIS year, things will go smoothly. THIS year, you will get everything done. THIS year, it will not be stressful. And so on….

THIS year can be different! It all starts with a plan, a calendar, and a realistic expectation. If you know me at all, I love planning things and creating a checklist. This part is almost as fun for me and completing my tasks.

I like to start with making a list of everything you hope to do this holiday season. Each year, my daughter and I decorate a gingerbread house. It is one tradition for just the two of us. My list also includes decorating the house, setting up the tree, shopping, baking cookies, having friends over, and so on. Get very specific, for example, “having friends over” could mean one night with 10 friends or it could mean ten nights with each friend one-on-one.

Once your list is complete, take a look at your calendar and schedule each task or event. Start with what is most important to you. If you are having trouble finding time for something on your list, then it may not be realistic for you to try and squeeze it in. It is tough to eliminate something that sounds fun, but this is where a joyful holiday can become a stressful one. So fight the urge to put more on your calendar than is reasonable.

One solution to fitting it all on your calendar, is to simplify. Maybe you bake your sugar cookies from scratch. This year it might be okay to use a store bought mix. Maybe you have three Christmas trees. You could simplify and just put up one tree. See what I mean?

When all my holiday tasks and events are on my calendar, I can enjoy the season a little at a time without the stress!