The push to get started on holiday shopping and planning starts earlier every year. Right after Halloween, images of parka-clad shoppers and ornaments decorated with sale items dance across our screens, urging us to shop early. A woman in my husband’s office asked if he was ready for the holidays—in early November!

I don’t know about you, but all this makes me feel pressured, anxious, and more than a little irritated. To combat my own crankiness, I am choosing to pull myself off the rush-to-the-finish-line mentality that is so prevalent. There are two choices: get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, or take a deep breath and slow down.

If you’d like to join me in slowing down your holiday pace, think in terms of “ones.” One step, one choice, one day at a time. Individual actions, over time, add up. We can’t change our media or the expectations of others, but we can change ourselves, one action at a time.

Here are some suggestions to help you get started:

• Let go of one tradition that no longer fits your family or style. Let each family member submit a suggestion without guilt. See if anyone misses it.

• Give each family member one pass (within reason) on an activity they don’t like. You may enjoy the activity more without their less-than-happy presence.

• Agree with one person not to exchange gifts. Instead, make a date to do something together after the holidays.

• Ask one person what they want for Christmas (instead of trying to guess) and tell one person what you want (and where to find it).

• Delegate, eliminate, or trade with someone else the one seasonal chore you dislike without complaining about the results.

• Give yourself one day or evening off from holiday activities. Put it on the calendar, schedule around it, and guard it like the treasure it is.

• Try one new activity, craft, or recipe without any expectations, or add a twist to an old one.

• Give to one charity, whether it’s volunteering or donating money. If you don’t have a favorite charity, give $1 each time you see a bell-ringer with a red kettle.

• Say “no” to one request or activity you don’t have time for. “No, I have another commitment” is a gracious way to decline.

• Give yourself permission to do one thing imperfectly. No apologizing. No excuses. Exhale. It’s okay.

• Let go of expectations for one event (whether you are in charge or not). Just enjoy it for what it is.

• Refrain from asking one person if they are ready for the holidays. If they are, you’ll compare your own progress and feel bad. If they aren’t, the question will make them feel more anxious. (I’m going to try not to ask the question at all.)

• Remember, holidays are a special time of year, but in the end, they are each one day on a calendar. Who we are, whom we love, and what we believe in are most important.

While you can’t take all the stress out of the holiday season, small steps can make it less stressful. Choose a few suggestions, or come up with your own one steps. Make one change at a time. You’ll be glad you did.

© Renee Ursem, 2012

Author's Bio: 

Renee Ursem, Professional Organizer and owner of Get It Together, LLC in Las Vegas, helps people learn how to organize and maintain their spaces using simple, practical strategies.

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