Put the “happy” back in the holidays

 Eliminate stresful holidayl tasks and leave time for the ones you enjoyHolidays can be stressful, so please stop trying to cram even more activities and chores into your schedule if you already feel exhausted. Instead, try eliminating things that you find tiring and annoying. Let go of expectations about how you should celebrate the season and focus on enjoying family and friends. If you stop and think about what causes your holiday stress you may be surprised at how much of it may be self-imposed.
 
I shop online for almost everything these days. Online shopping lets you avoid crowded malls and traffic, and allows you to shop when you want. Shopping online makes it easy to compare prices as well as hunt down hard-to-find items.
 
If many of your gifts need to be mailed, you can have them wrapped and sent directly from the online merchant. I also choose to pay a small premium to use a mail store for everything else that needs to be sent through the post. These shops handle all types of shipping. They often have shorter lines and longer hours than the post office. These two things let me stay away from crowded stores, lines, and the post office. I also get to shop late at night from my tablet while lying in bed, so I can spread my shopping over several nights.
 
I also buy many small gifts from one of my local merchants. He has a great selection of unique gifts at reasonable prices.  I purchase them up on my way home, already wrapped. Look around and you may find your own small one-stop wonder. Think out-of-the-box. In Toronto, small shops in Chinatown were perfect for finding gifts and pretty, reusable wrappings.
 
Try to eliminate the holiday chores that you find most exhausting and distasteful. If you hate cooking, hire a good caterer. Book these kinds of services now to avoid disappointment. If you are on a budget, ask your grocery store or butcher for some options. If cleaning is your personal nightmare, reserve a service now!
 
You will be amazed at how getting rid of one or two hated tasks instead of gritting through them removes stress and renews your holiday spirit. You can even find services to address and post your holiday cards. Use your computer to send “green” e-greetings and free yourself from hours of addressing and stamping cards. You will save trees and a small fortune on postage. I use a combination of both traditional cards and e-greetings.
 
Start now! Feeling rushed can sour the jolliest holiday festivities, so get cracking. Just dig in and do a little something every day.
 
If entertaining is not your thing, don’t feel you have to do it.  Leave it to those who enjoy it. Buy a selection of nice hostess gifts, RSVP on time, and be a gracious and grateful guest. Always send a thank you note. If you know the hostess well and she invites you often, offer to help out. She may need you to pick up a last-minute item or another guest. Trust me darlings, hostesses adore charming and helpful guests!
 
Finally darlings, bite your tongue. Hang the holly or spin the dreidel and avoid conflict. Stress, exhaustion, alcohol, Spin the dradleand bad manners will all surface during holiday festivities. Few of us make it through the season without coming into contact with nasty relatives, quarrelsome siblings, a rude bore, or a random drunk or two. Remember darlings, no one ever really “wins” a family fight or an argument at a party. Once a year, in the interest of “peace on earth”, ignore quarrels and insults and put the happy back in the holidays.
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