November 06, 2017

De-Stressing the Holidays (We Promise it's a Real Thing!)

We know, we know - You've barely had time to put the pumpkin in the compost bin, and here we are talking about Christmas. But as you can probably guess, the Room to Breathe team thrives on being well organized and ultra-prepared - doing so is the best piece of advice we can give for de-stressing any stressful time in life, so we thought we would share some tips on doing just that in advance of one of the busiest, though most wonderful, times of year.

Feel free to follow along if a mellower, less-hectic holiday season is something you are striving for, and please leave a comment below sharing any tried, tested, and true tips that make the hustle and bustle of December run a little bit smoother in your world. With everyone's help, 2017 could be our most peaceful holiday season yet! 

MAKE A LIST (NO NEED TO CHECK IT TWICE) - We love a good list! And the coming months definitely warrant a serious list or two. A few ongoing, must-have lists for the RTB team include:
  • A WINTER BUCKET LIST - If you have kids, or even if you don't, it can be really fun to make a winter bucket list - getting the whole family involved in naming a few seasonal activities that everyone would like to try is sure to leave us all feeling excited about things other than presents.
  • MAILING LIST - If you send out holiday cards, now is a great time to start making your mailing list and gathering addresses. Consider compiling your list in a program like Microsoft Excel so you are able to come back to it again next year, and you can easily update any address changes that come in throughout the year. Or if the thought of mailing out holiday cards gives you hives, perhaps consider an email 'year in review' or e-card. If December simply feels too hectic to add one more thing, consider sending a New Year's greeting instead.
  • GIFT LIST - of course, there are gifts to be bought (we will talk more about this later in the post), but to help keep you on track and on budget, it can be beneficial to make a list of each person you want to buy for. You can add details like gift ideas you may have, budget allotment, or things you know they love. If you start planning and thinking about it now, you will hopefully be spared the stress of holiday crunch time! 

STOCK THE FREEZER - Three things that are always handy to have in your freezer, but especially so during the winter months include:
  • BAKING - Most baking will freeze well, and nothing is handier than being able to pull out a few cookies when unexpected visitors pop by. Start baking a batch or two over the next few weeks, freeze as needed and package up to use for teacher/neighbour/hostess gifts throughout December.  
  • BUTTER -  If holiday baking is part of your winter tradition, start purchasing an extra pound of butter on each coming trip to the grocery store. It freezes well and is one less expense for you to have to worry about come December (that stuff is expensive!) Plus, nothing is worse than running out of butter in the middle of cookie baking marathon. This same rule can be applied to other staples you know you will use a lot of throughout December - start slowly accumulating items now so your grocery bill isn't quite as massive next month. 
  • PRE-MADE MEALS - December is BUSY! Regardless of how much preparing you do, the parties, outings, and additional obligations always run rampant. Now is a great time to double up a few recipes and freeze easy meals to reheat in a pinch down the road. Think hearty soups, stews, lasagnas, or curries- portion out in individual servings and watch December-you rejoice. 

MAKE ROOM FOR COZY - Where will the tree go? How about the decorations and parcels and all things winter-cozy? Take a look around your living spaces and begin to tuck away and clear surfaces. Box up any books, knickknacks, non-seasonal decor, or items that won't be needed until post-holiday time, and begin to create a blank canvas for all that is to come.

Now is also a great time to tidy and reorganize your pantry and fridge- checking for expiry dates and tossing whatever has gone bad, pulling out anything you can spare to be used for food donations that are abundantly requested during these next few months, all the while making room for the 'extra' that floods in in December. Also, add any pantry staples that need replenishing to a trusty list noted above.

GO EASY ON YOURSELF (THE PLANET WILL THANK YOU) - We all want to find that perfect gift, but shopping in December can be both expensive and stressful. Online shopping is a great option to avoid big crowds at the mall, but reevaluating our relationship with stuff, especially around the holidays can be really impactful. So much of the work that Room to Breathe does is because of the excess stuff we often unconsciously bring in to our lives. Having excess of course takes a toll on our emotional well being (overwhelmingly, our clients report the stress of too much stuff as their main reason for hiring us), but it's also really hard on the environment.

When push comes to shove, there is very little that most of us actually need, so try to think outside the box and consider non-traditional gifts ideas- pick a charity or cause to donate to on behalf of the ones we love most, offer a gift of service or time spent together, or hand-make something sentimental. If its tears of joy you want to see on Christmas morning, these gifts are sure to get them flowing.

For more great alternative gift ideas and tips on how simplifying the holidays have a look at New Dream's downloadable booklet. It's an absolute favourite of ours, and is FULL of amazing ideas for thoughtful, environmental, and budget conscious meaningful gifts. enjoy! xo

Blog post written by Jessica Thorburn - Our Vancouver-based Marketing and Administration Superstar.

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