The Early Planner’s Guide To Surviving Christmas
“Woah!”, you’re probably thinking. “A Christmas post in late September?!? It’s way too early to start thinking about that!” Early, sure, but too early? Afraid not. While you’re probably still reeling from the last minute dash to load the kids up with everything they need for school and contemplating costume and pumpkin carving designs for Halloween, it is, for a variety of reasons the ideal time to start thinking about the holiday season.
There’s a lot to love about the holidays. The sense of togetherness we feel with our spouse and family, the undiluted pleasure of seeing our kids’ joy and excitement as they unwrap their gifts, and (of course) the culinary indulgence that we allow ourselves where all notions of healthy eating and moderation go out of the window and we end up eating our body weight in roasted goodies. But it can also be a time of stress, worry and sadness, and if you haven’t had the best personal relationship with Christmas, it can be a difficult time to negotiate which conjures up feelings of non-specific dread when you consider it.
If this sounds familiar, worry not. By taking the bull by the horns and planning your Christmas early, you can stand a much better chance of not only enjoying your day but alleviating many of the common frustrations, anxieties and upsets synonymous with the festive period.
If you hate Christmas
Christmas has a funny way of magnifying and exacerbating anything that’s less than perfect about our lives, and if you’ve been afflicted by loss or tragedy around this time it can be doubly upsetting when the rest of the world seems to be rubbing their collective hands in anticipation. If you’ve had a historically troublesome relationship with Christmas this may be a bitter pill to swallow but the holiday isn’t going anywhere. It’s up to you to make peace with it and start building towards ways of enjoying yourself. Of course this is easier said than done but a great starting point may be calling people who will expect you to be joining them around Christmas and being open and honest about how you feel. Explain to them that you may be, for example, distant, emotional or irritable. Forewarned is forearmed and most of your friends and relatives will make special accommodations and provisions for you if they know in advance.
If you’ll be spending Christmas alone
Through loss, divorce or just unfortunate scheduling, many people end up spending Christmas day alone. Some are absolutely fine with it, others not so much (although they’ll likely protest and say that they’re fine with it). If the thought of spending Christmas alone casts a raincloud of depression overhead, it’s time to work on reversing the status quo, one positive affirmation at a time. Give yourself as much to look forward to as you can fit into a day, whether it’s a movie marathon or some quality snuggles with your pets.
If you have no idea what to do about gifts
Gift giving for spouses and children can be a minefield that can be neatly sidestepped with a little forward planning. Now is the time to start dropping subtle (or not so subtle hints) among your family that you’re receptive to gift ideas. If you’re still unsure, you’ll find no shortage of Christmas gift guides all over the internet. Cool gifts for guys, gals and kids can be found in abundance online, and by getting an early start on your Christmas shopping you can avoid the inevitability of delayed delivery times that come with the holiday season. Your kids will likely already know what they want for Christmas and now is the perfect time to start stockpiling gifts before the toy stores are besieged by the Black Friday panic buyers.
If you always overspend
Christmas can be nightmarish for those enduring less than stellar personal finances. Again, planning can be your greatest ally here. The traditional festive spend-a-thon is fuelled by a combination of impulse and panic, with frantic shoppers over compensating for poor planning by spending heavily and virtually indiscriminately on gifts, food and wine while the plastic takes the strain. Fortunately, you can avoid the unnecessary spending necessitated by high interest repayments by making smaller, more spaced out purchases and using cash rather than charging.
The greatest favor you can do yourself (and your family) is to plan a realistic budget and prepare comprehensive (but not too lavish) gift lists for the whole family. This will eliminate the need for last minute impulse-spending while also saving money in the long-term.
Image Credit: Christmas Cookies