Tuesday, November 19, 2019

10 ways I prepare for a less stressful December

December is by and large the word I hate to use to describe myself or life in general: busy. I have issues with the concept of busy-ness that people hold up like a badge of honor that I would really prefer be more of a scarlet letter but there is no getting around that some seasons in life are more packed than others.

December is a busy time for me at work, as I'm sure it is for many of you. Add in the holiday things to do and be at plus the fact that Christmas is not my favorite season in general and if I don't prepare well I can end up hating December. And that's no way to end a year. As I've gotten older I've been more aware of how to better prepare myself for these seasons, and these are some of the things I do to make December as stress-free and enjoyable as possible.

1. Order cards in the beginning of November. I mail my cards the day before Thanksgiving, so they need to be ordered by the beginning of November.

2. Use my google tools. Google keep for list making, Google calendar so MFD and I who are rarely in the same place can see what the other person has going on and if we need to be at any of those places, and google photos to share pics with people of holiday stuff.

3. Finish Christmas-related shopping by December 1, including charitable donations and shift personal shopping habits. There is nothing that ruins my mood more than being in packed stores full of stressed out shoppers. Having my charitable donations and budget figured out early also ensures that I get things where they need to be on time. Over the years I've also severely narrowed who I buy for and what I buy them. I do not want to crap up anyone's life with stuff they don't want or need and I'm not into exchanging gifts with everyone under the sun or doing gift swaps or anything like that. I also shift my personal shopping habits for groceries and household essentials: I love holiday hours because I will be there at 10:30 pm picking up toilet paper in order to avoid the crowds. I will also order things like that more for delivery.

4. Relieve myself of the idea of doing it all and being everywhere. It's not ever happening, in the holiday season or otherwise. Before you expect that of yourself or someone else in regards to making everything happen or being at all events, stop. It's not fair to hold yourself to an impossible standard and it's an asshole move to press someone else to be and do in order to meet your expectations that will deplete their personal gas tank. Really. Stop it.

5. Remember that I, too, have been a rude asshole in public. Sometimes you catch people on a bad day. I'm not going to let their bad day ruin mine, and I also should not crucify them because I have been a rude asshole also, whether I knew it at the time or not.

6. Clean out the coat closet. I ensure that we have what we need winter wear-wise, and it's a good opportunity to donate any gently used items to populations that need them more than the one time a month they might be worn by us.

7. Purge and cook through the freezer and pantry. I make space and make sure I'm using everything plus I see what ingredients I need to buy for holiday gatherings.

8. Set up a gift station. I set aside a place in my basement to put Christmas gifts so they're all in one place and I always know what I have. This keeps me organized and prevents over-buying.

9. Put winter stuff in the car. Scraper, extra pair of gloves and knit hat...in hopes that one year I will actually have those things in the car BEFORE I need them and am not cleaning off from the first unexpected snow/ice event with a piece of paper MFD left in the backseat and a credit card.

10. Stock my essentials. This includes homemade elderberry extract (I use this recipe sans brandy) that I take daily, local honey, peppermint tea, magnesium and vitamin D supplements, and 49897482497 mistletoe-ish scented candles.

TL; DR: get what I've chosen as must do shit done before December even starts to make space and time for things I will enjoy. What do you do to make December less stressful for yourself?

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