Holiday stress can be the broom that sweeps all the joy right out the door. It doesn’t need to be that way. You can make meaningful memories with your loved ones without any hassle with just a little planning.
Professional Organizer Andrew Mellen recently brought his Unstuff Your Life workshops to Rancho La Puerta. He has 5 tips for helping you get organized and making this holiday season more fulfilling.
1. Make a plan.
Not sure where to get started? Sit still for 5-10 minutes to reflect and get settled into yourself. Ask yourself what you need for this holiday season to be successful. If you’ve ever written a paper or painted a room at home, then you’ve done project management. If you’ve ever thrown a party where the expectations were low, and the results exceeded expectations, then you were successful. Those all have good roadmaps for planning a holiday gathering. What were the discrete individual steps that got you to the finish line? Apply those steps. Create a shopping list and a to-do list, then do the work incrementally instead of in a mad scramble as the holiday gets closer. Quantify each item on the to-do list so you adequately budget enough time. In as little as 15 minutes a week for six weeks, you can accomplish everything on your list and manage it more comfortably.
On the day of the event, have a list of things you enjoy doing and do well. If it’s cooking and people want to help, let them be the sous-chefs; chopping and prepping. Let someone else set the table – the napkins don’t need to be perfectly folded. If you know you can be a bit controlling, shift your mindset so that everyone feels included, engaged and useful. You’ll probably have a better time and so will everyone else. Everyone has an opportunity to participate, and you’ll be prepared with tasks and chores people of all skill levels can do if they want to help.
3. Get organized and clean up.
What can you do now that’ll prepare you for next time? Use The Organizational Triangle® which is to put like with like, give everything one home, and something comes in then something goes out. You’ll find anything in 30 seconds or less when you need it. Gather all your seasonal decorations in the same area and label each container. Halloween decorations are stored with other Halloween items and not mixed in with the Passover or Christmas decorations. You’ll soon see how this simple tool will help you organize everything from your kitchen to your closets and on to your garage.
4. Follow up.
At the end of the holiday, take 10-15 minutes to sit still and reflect on your success. It’s not a time to beat up on yourself. You can extend the warm holiday feelings by debriefing with friends or family and talk about what worked and what didn’t – what were the highlights, the surprises and what could be skipped next time. It’s another way to have everyone participate in the process. It’s best if it’s not turned into an opportunity for blaming or shaming for what did or didn’t happen, but a chance to problem solve and strategize how next time can be even more stress-free and easier.
5. Let go.
If you’re a perfectionist, it’s a good idea to examine and let go of some of your expectations. Allowing others to participate will reduce your stress. If prepping food is not their thing, let them help decorate. If you’re comparing yourself and your home to photos in a magazine or TV show, then you’re setting yourself up for possible failure and disappointment. It’s may be just as meaningful, or more so to let your kids or whoever do things their way. It builds self-esteem and gives everyone a stake in the outcome and gets you out of the hot seat. Ask yourself which is more important—a tense, picture-perfect gathering or a warm, relaxed event filled with laughter and ease? In two months, people won’t remember much about the event beyond how they felt – why not have that be about the love you all feel for each other rather than a bunch of posed photos that don’t capture the true essence of you and your family?