Stress-Free Christmas

“Get a Head Start on the Holidays”

By “National Santa” Tim Connaghan

Most folks may not want to think of Christmas, Chanukah or Kwanza in the middle of the summer, or even the fall.  But, some folks  are thinking otherwise.  They’re the ones that have truly learned how to enjoy the holidays.  

Instead of stressing out, or fighting depression, with too much to do, they are happy and enjoying the holidays.

You’ve seen them.  They’re the families whose homes are all decorated.  They never seem worried or stress out. 

They’ve done all their Holiday Shopping.  They have some time to do charitable work.  And, they attend every party or social event they are invited to.  These are the families that seem to get the most out of the holiday season.

But how did they do it?  How did they reduce the stress?  How were they able to do all their shopping, attend every event and do everything they wanted to do? 

Very simply, they learned “How to get a Head Start on the Holidays!”

Holiday Stress and Depression

Every year I hear about the stress and problems that so many encounter during the Christmas and Holiday season.  I read about it, hear about it on radio and television, and I also hear from friends and family.  And once in a while, it also hits me.

We can easily stress when we have too much to do.  Some people also get a bit depressed, as the burdens of the season weigh them down so much, they can’t enjoy anything.  

We often feel overloaded, what with our regular day-to-day activities and responsibilities, and then adding special holiday visits and attending the obglatory parties.  And let’s not forget, the necessary, and all important, shopping for gifts.   It just seems that there are not enough hours in the day and truthfully, sometimes not enough days.

Stress and Depression are the major enemies of the December Holidays.

I know.  Because I have spent almost fifty years wearing the famous red suit.  And over the years ‘this’ Santa has truly experienced the stress of a busy holiday season.

I too fell into the abiss of not being ready fot the holiday season.   And believe me, if Santa doesn not have his shopping done and home decorated before Thanksgiving, he is in deep trouble.  

It was embarassing for me.  I am sure that some folks and especially my neighbors were thinking, “If Santa can deliver millions of presents all over the world on one night, why can’t he get his house decorated on time?”

This was a big problem.  So I decided I needed a plan to follow.

Have you ever said, “Next year, I’m not going to wait until the last minute.  I’m going to plan ahead and get an early start in preparing for the Holidays.”

So I sat down at my computer (Yes, Santa has a computer!) and I created a schedule, that, if followed, I could get organized and pre-plan for the Christmas season.  And here is the good part, It was simple! 

To do this I decided to start mid-year, in July.  I prefer starting in July.  I know that sounds crazy, but by doing a little bit each month, by the time Thanksgiving arrived, I was ready to work, to party and to enjoy the holidays.

And now I want to share my plan with you.

I may not be like you, what with personal appearances,  television and radio interviews, and the all important events where I see thousands of children.  But, but I too find that I have very little time to spend with my family and to enjoy holiday activities with friends.

From all of my research and planning, I have learned two important things:

  1.  You need to un-clutter and simplify your schedule.  Realize that you can’t always do everything.  It means prioritizing your commitments, simplifying your outlook and sometimes, living within your means.   Most importantly, you need to do what you and your family enjoy most, and not what others expect of you.
  2. You need to be more organized and plan ahead.  It means a better management of your time and what you want to accomplish.  It may also mean delegating some of the work and tasks to other family members and having everyone involved your Holiday plans.

Time Management is really what I am talking about.  It saved me, and it can save you.

With the help of some ‘Efficiency Elves,’ I created a simple schedule that helped Mrs. Claus and I do a better job of preparing for the Holidays.

This resulted in less stress for both of us and more time to enjoy our friends and family. 

With a little advanced planning, spread out between now and Christmas, you too can reduce stress and have more time to enjoy the holiday season.

If you start now, you can spread out the tasks over the months ahead.  By doing a little each month, you will reduce your December work load.  

Then, when the Holidays arrive, you will have the satisfaction of being totally prepared and ready to truly enjoy the Celebrations and Festivities.

So, lets get started.

Creating your Holiday Plan

The first thing you need to do is make a list of every task or activity you feel you need to do, or want to accomplish, during the holiday season.  This might take some time.  And it would be good to have everyone in the family participating.  Of course if you are single, then you get to make all the decisions yourself.

Secondly, using a calendar and a pencil, block out all the mandatory daily and weekly activities,, that you have dates and times for, and add the holiday tasks and other events that are on your list.  This will take a little work and may require some adjustments or changes.  Now you have a rough draft of your planning and event schedule.   

Over the years, I have refined our family schedule and tasks.  And now I have simplified  the schedule for you to use. It starts a few months before the holiday season and includes a wide collection of tasks and projects. 

From this schedule, you can add or subtract to start building your personalized schedule.  You may want to compress the schedule to three months.  Or, you may want to move some things around.

If you think of something new, slip it into the schedule.  If something doesn’t apply to your situation, delete it.  The schedule is a simple tool you can adjust to your needs. 

When possible, do try to have other family members involved in the tasks and planning.  When everyone is involved you share the work and, with more help and everyone’s involvement, you should have less stress, everyone will know what is going on and you have the benefit of more family unity and fun.

For your convenience, I have created the schedule in three versions.  One starting in July, one in August  and one in September.  Each schedule has the same number of  tasks. If you start in July, you have fewer tasks each month.  If you wait until September, each month will have a few more tasks.  You choose what month you want to start planning.  

Click here if you are starting in July 
Click here is you are starting in August
Click here if you are Starting in September