Ah, the holiday season. A time for traditions and entertainment, frivolity and fun. A time to let normal schedules slide and more than a few rules to be ignored. But when all the eggnog has been drunk and all the presents unwrapped, the best holiday memories are the ones you form with those around you – family, friends, loved ones. Memories you won’t form if you’re running on empty, fueled only with cookies, and so stressed out that your ears are hidden by your shoulders!
There are some simple steps you can take to ensure that your holidays are so relaxing that you won’t finding yourself needing another holiday in January to recover from your December festivities.
Start some new traditions
We spend a lot of time stretching ourselves very thin at the holidays, and very often the phrase, “But that’s how we’ve always done it!” is the mantra that gets us to that point. This is the year to think out of the box.
If you usually spend the holidays running from one house to another, ensuring that every member of the family gets some time with you, perhaps it’s time for a change. Make a new tradition. Perhaps there’s time to do the running around between Christmas and New Year, but on those more special days, stay close to home. If you celebrate Hanukkah, spread out your visits with a day of rest in between, if you can.
If you spend all your time running around on the holidays themselves, chances are you’ll be stressed and worn out, and the holiday memories might be ones you’d rather forget.
All treats in moderation
The iced sugar cookies beckon. Your aunt’s famous latkes are hot out of the pan. Your uncle is pouring you another glass of eggnog and slipping the kids some ‘forbidden’ soda. A few treats are fine, but the key is moderation.
Make sure there are plenty of healthy snacks available, too, so that the kids – and you – aren’t spending the holidays reaching for anything edible. ‘To go’ snacks like cut up fruits and veggies, individual plastic containers with dip or hummus, whole wheat crackers and cheese, or even a handful of roasted almonds, are great ways to stave off the hunger pangs, particularly if you are traveling.
Don’t spend the break lying down
Tempting as it may be to remain horizontal during the holidays, or for the kids – attached to their video gaming systems – the holidays are a great time to get out as a family and do something active.
Go for a hike! Rent snowshoes and tramp around the forest! Build a snowman and have a snowball fight! There are so many ways you can spend time together that even the surly fifteen-year-old can enjoy.
If the great outdoors isn’t your ideal, check out local activities or attractions such as holiday markets, ice skating rinks, light displays and holiday fun runs that offer up some good old family time.
Holiday movies and football are great, but no need to make it a TV marathon – and a little fresh air after a large meal will do everyone some good.
Shorten the ‘to do lists’ for less stress
Even if you normally bring the appetizers to every dinner you attend, perhaps it’s time to lighten the load and switch it up. Offer to bring something that doesn’t need to be cooked – like the rum for the eggnog, perhaps?
Cooking for a crowd CAN be a task-and-a-half, but many hands make light work, or so the saying goes. Turn cooking your holiday treats and meals into a family affair. Potluck for the big events, with everyone being asked to bring their specialty. Smaller affairs? Think about platters that you can buy ready-made, saving yourself a lot of prep time. And get the kids involved: who doesn’t love mixing up cookie batter or decorating gingerbread men?
If you think about the hours of the day when you’re not sleeping, and divide it up with all the tasks you already do, you will see that there are typically not enough of hours for a bunch of new to-do’s. Figure out either what has to go, or can be outsourced. Don’t have time to clean the house top to bottom before the in-laws arrive? Use a cleaning service. Don’t have time to wrap and ship all the presents for the away family? There’s a service for that, too.
Focus on what matters
In the end, the memories that count, the moments that matter, are the ones that you spent in the company of loved ones. Snuggling before a roaring fire, cocoa in hand. Playing charades and laughing so hard that your eyes water! Enjoying the moments that make life worth living.
Rachel Tabbouche is a health and wellness expert and the founder of UnderCoverWaterWear sun protective on the go wear, swimwear, and UCFit fitness wear. Visit UnderCoverWaterWear online at www.undercoverwaterwear.com or on Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest or Instagram.
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