Anti-Crazy COVID Holiday Prep
by Helen WIlliamson Elliott, MS, LPC
- Minimize buying things, Can you repurpose, reuse, reduce, create what you need, or ask for others to help? If you have to buy things, try to shop small businesses. (This can go for shopping for gifts as well.) **My sister and I combine gifts for family often. For instance, I will buy a gift card from Men’s Wearhouse for Dad and she will get clothes from Pyramid Collection for Mom (we discuss how much each wants to spend.)
- Plan extra time to clean before and after, decorate and shop for food. Let others help you. This can be a fun tradition as well. Assign appropriate jobs to different people in the house. Play music and enjoy it! **I used to clean up much more back in the spring, but I have relaxed it a bit since COVID is here to stay for now.
- Don’t make menus too elaborate, but do allow others to assist. Making too many dishes/snacks can wear you out and cost a lot. You can’t please everyone. Decide what you want in plenty of time and stick to it. Don’t try new recipes on your guests. They may fail. Shop at least by the day before and plan in time for an extra trip in case you forgot something (add an hour just in case). If you want to allow others to choose the menu, give them a deadline to tell you and stick to it. If they want to add something, it’s their baby. Do as much as you can before so you can spend time w/guests.
- Tell people more details. People are on different levels of comfort regarding COVID19 protocols. I’ve heard it described like this: There are 5 levels of greetings- air hug or wave, foot touch, elbow touch, fist bump, and handshake. I would add the hug, but they are few and far between!! Obviously, people are at different levels of comfort with touch and proximity. You will want to see how much you can accommodate others, but don’t feel you have to completely turn yourself inside out either. Outdoor- open air is good, but it may be cold. Plan for wind. Disposable plates, plasticware and hand sanitizers are a good idea too. See if you can get individually wrapped plasticware. Be sure to have plastic gloves available for those serving if appropriate. If you can package things individually, do so. Don’t take refusals personally- times will change and they will adjust. Some will still be ok with a bit of discomfort/uncertainty, and some will not. This is their issue, not yours! Invite those who will come!
- Don’t promise too much. Do you really want to do this? What is the reason you are doing this? Do you enjoy it, or do you think others expect you to do this? Can others help you more? (especially kids?) Maybe you can make a deal with them.
** Remember, Every promise you make denies other choices, like time with family or friends, fun activities, or self care. Promises to yourself are equally valid. Also, consider the calendar- are there too many activities stacked up together? Maybe the less important ones can be dropped or postponed. Remember to call restaurants ahead of time to ask if they are open that day, what the seating is like, if there is outdoor seating, if there are menu restrictions, and if they do carry out or delivery Remember, even Norman Rockwell, who painted ideal situations painted a famous painting with Ruby Bridges going to school with guards surrounding her little body. His time wasn’t perfect either with pictures spanning from 1916 (before WWI, during the Great Depression, WWII, and the race riots of the 60s) to 1963. Focus on the time with others, not perfection.
- Define what is non-negotiable: For example, do we have to do the Santa visit, or is that just something grandma wants? Do we need family pics, or can we photo shop them into a Christmas card? Do I need to mail a Christmas card to everyone, or can I hand them out at a party (and why do I want to send them)? Am I getting my purpose met, or an expectation from others?
**Activity- prioritize 3-5 activities and why they are important to you.
- Make a list of activities/chores and place it on the calendar. Make sure to honor your promise to yourself and follow through. For example, when to make the card, when to have them mailed by, when to shop (I recommend starting in October or before to spread out the shopping burden).
Michael Hyatt tips: (from his book, Free to Focus)
1.Delegate, eliminate, and automate anything you don’t have to do.
(Do the tasks in which you shine!!)
- Put tasks together so you don’t have to shift your mindset.
- Make templates for repeat tasks. (cards, recipes, emails, etc.)
- Create and maintain schedule boundaries. (tell others you can’t right now or call them later.) Others’ crises are not our crises.
- Shopping: Start with a list of what you want to buy (I prefer the phone over paper since it is always with me). For instance, Jen- Starbucks card, Diane, Clothes from Boston Proper, Dave- Amazon card or button up shirt, Garrett- Amazon Gift card, birthday-clothes since it’s also his birthday, etc. You can star items once you get them, or change them if you change your mind. A few in my family make wish-lists, so I try to make mine the weekend after Thanksgiving to give them time to shop. Try to get online purchases done the first week of December since even rush orders can be late.
- Self Care: Stay positive. Am I overlooking my needs for everyone else? Am I exercising? Am I getting the sleep I need? Am I eating too much junk just to be nice? Am I making food that people love, or just me? (it’s OK if you want to eat it, but you want to be clear about who it’s really for.) Am I in a rut due to easy patterns (ex: Netflix)? Am I meeting my spiritual needs/desires? (i.e. going to certain Christmas services to renew). Don’t wait too late to shop and then you have no time for fun.
- What brings you joy? (This is part of self care too!). Listen to Christmas music, light candles, go see the lights, decorate the house, decorate or make cookies if this lifts you up. If not, let others do it! There is only so much time until the season is over. Make sure to use the time well. Once the season is over, you don’t want to regret missing the important occasions or be too stressed to really enjoy it. One thing that really gets me in the mood is a good choral performance; shopping hardly ever does!!
** Enjoy the chaos; feel the love!!