You get into your car, ignite the engine, and an all-too-familiar holiday melody echoes immediately through the car’s cabin.
Instead of bringing you joy, the song completely overwhelms you, stresses you out, and incites an overall feeling of panic. You feel neither merry nor bright.
As you drive to work, your head fills quickly with the incessant clanging of all of your holiday to-dos – cards to address, presents to buy and wrap, meals to prepare, and parties to attend.
Culturally, we’re conditioned to think of this time of year as something to “survive” – survive the in-law visit, survive your spouse’s company’s Christmas party, survive the all-nighter assembling toys.
I want you to flip that conditioning on its head – I want you to thrive this holiday season. And you can thrive beautifully by tapping into something that’s already a part of your everyday life.
You can reclaim the joy and excitement of the holiday season by leveraging the strengths of your unique Productivity Style. (Don’t know your Productivity Style? You can find out here.)
Now, it’s time to thrive; here are a few of my favorite, simple strategies and techniques to help make your holidays merry and bright.
IF YOU’RE A PRIORITIZER
You have never met a budget you did not like. So this holiday season, tap into that strength and draw the line on spending by setting a holiday budget.
Money, in general, can be a stressful conversation. Spending money at the holidays makes people nuts. So, put that issue aside. Set clear limits on the cost of individual gifts and family gifts, or even provide guidelines on where everyone has to buy gifts. Your wallet will thank you.
Wasting time, energy or even tangible items is a major pet peeve of yours. This holiday season use that to your advantage and purchase consumable gifts.
Consumable gifts are the beautiful, simple gifts that our friends and family can actually use. Think about gift certificates, gifts of your time, lunch dates, dinner dates, concert tickets, or items you buy in bulk that can be parceled out for various people (personal or business recipients). For example, I always give my friends the same gift every year – personalized notepads. I order them online in September and they arrive mid-November beautifully wrapped and ready to deliver.
Some people might call you a minimalist. You would call it knowing what is essential. Leverage this strength and streamline your holiday decorations.
What are the five essential decorations that symbolize the holidays for you? Consider using only these five decorations this year. When you go to repack and store your holiday decorations repack them into containers by room, so they are ready and easy to unpack next year.
IF YOU’RE A PLANNER
You live by your calendar and thoughtfully schedule all of your priorities and commitments. Leverage those strengths to this holiday season say “no”.
Decide what you are NOT going to do this holiday. No holiday parties the week before Christmas? No end of the year business newsletter? Who says you have to do everything? You do not. Release any guilt about saying no. Every time you say yes to something you are saying no to something else. This holiday season, say yes to the many things that bring you joy and no to the many things that suck the life right out of you and turn you into Mr. Scrooge.
You have never met a deadline you did not like and did not meet. This holiday season use that strength to your advantage and work in vacation mode.
What happens right before you go on vacation? Your inbox is cleaned out, you can see the surface of your desk, your projects are current and, in my case, all of the laundry is done. All of these things happen because you have a hard deadline – a deadline when you will be out of the office and enjoying your vacation. Set a hard deadline for when you will complete each of your holiday tasks. You will be amazed at how many things you can cross off your holiday preparation list.
You are the master of lists. Leverage that strength and avoid holiday rework.
Keep records of what you do this year. (How many dozen cookies for the office? Where did you buy the best Poinsettias?) Keep the information in a holiday notebook or in the app of your choice to streamline the holidays next year.
IF YOU’RE AN ARRANGER
You have never met a stranger. So this holiday season, tap into your relationships and leverage outside resources.
Are there high school and college students in your neighborhood who are looking for a little extra spending money? They can run errands, deliver presents, wrap presents or even chop vegetables. Hire your favorite baby sitter so you can shop or even stay in another part of the house working. Outsource your meals to your favorite caterer, grocery store and/or food delivery service.
You are an exceptional communicator and intuitively understand the strengths of those around you. Leverage your communication skills this holiday season and delegate to your family visitors.
Ask each person to bring one thing for the meal. That means they bring a dish (yes, they bring the food in their own serving dish from home) and take the dish home with them. This saves you clean-up time, but still allows you the fun and pleasure of entertaining in your home. If guests are traveling by air to visit, ask them to prepare one dish for the meal. When it comes to gift gifting, divide and conquer on family gifts by asking your sibling to purchase your mother’s gift and you purchase your father’s gift.
You are a strong advocate for your community and see the interconnectedness between us all. So this holiday season boycott gifts and donate.
Instead of giving gifts this year to family and friends, donate to charities, churches, or schools. Consider selecting one charity and making a donation in honor of all of your family and friends. Or donate to your family’s and friends’ favorite charities. It’s a great gift, as well as, a valuable holiday lesson for your children or nieces and nephews.
IF YOU’RE A VISUALIZER
Out of the box, creative, innovative thinking is the norm for you. Use that to your advantage this holiday season and send a Valentine’s Day card instead of sending out the traditional holiday card.
Send love to all of your family and friends with a special card or picture. Not only is this unexpected, but your card does not get lost in the bulging piles of holiday cards and catalogs.
You think big, play big and live big. Lean into that strength and this holiday season and cook big once and freeze.
Instead of one casserole for dinner tonight, double it and divide the second one into four individual servings and put them in the freezer for later. Or, if you are outsourcing your meals, purchase double the amount you need and freeze the other half for later.
Novelty, spontaneity and play are your lifeblood. Don’t forget that this holiday season and make a “take a break and play date”.
Call a friend today and set a non-negotiable time for coffee, lunch, wine, a walk, or something that will recharge, energize and excite you during the holidays. This time is your time and I strongly encourage you to turn off all of your electronic devices.
Sometimes we fall into survival mode (during any season, really) because we get “stuck” with tasks or projects (big and small) that don’t align with the way we think or the way we work. (Example: Your Visualizer husband will probably drag his feet in booking that specific air travel you so mindfully planned out.)
Granted, sometimes we need to do a task or project that’s more difficult for us – we can’t ignore it altogether. But, this is the time to leverage the talents of those around you – is your sister a Planner who can help to manage the family’s calendar this holiday? Or is your co-worker the Arranger who is the perfect person to meet and greet at the door for the holiday party?
When we’re all working and living in a way that fits the way we see the world, we’re all thriving. And that’s absolutely the whole point of this entire season and new year.
So, here’s to you and how you thrive best.