Make this holiday season the best ever by putting a halt to the hurried life. Pause, step away from the bustle and make it a rich, delicious time for friends, family and gentle memories. When we exchange overwhelming expectations, meaningless obligations, and tiresome traditions for those that put a glow in our hearts, we nurture contentment now and all year long. These 10 tips will take the hurry out of the season. And they're easy on the pocketbook, too.
1. Appreciate what you already have. Take a hard look at the blessings surrounding you. Joy flourishes when we feel, and then express, gratitude. Give thanks for the good things in your life and watch your anxiety level plummet while your happiness quotient skyrockets.
2. Toss tiresome traditions. Nothing clouds the holiday horizon more than expectations that have lost their zest. Inject this season with new family activities while preserving the traditions that still have meaning. This might mean nixing the formal sit-down dinner for a casual buffet, booking a sunny vacation, or purchasing specialties from the neighbourhood bakery instead of making them all yourself.
3. Great gifts nourish the soul without cluttering your home. Gourmet delicacies, lunch invitations to the newest hot spot, a great bottle of wine, concert or sporting event tickets, gift certificates for spa treatments, or weekends at a resort won't become after-season castoffs. And they can be arranged with a phone call.
4. Kid around. Pick up coloured paper, ribbons, stickers, paper doilies and other crafty items and spend an afternoon creating holiday magic with the children in your life. If you don't have kids, borrow some. Their mothers will thank you!
5. Think green. Seasonal flowering plants and cedar or fir boughs interspersed with fairy lights and multisized candles make a simple yet stunning statement. Less really is more when it comes to decorating.
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6. Unclutter your life. Purge the freeloaders that take up space in your life. This includes stuff you don't use or that is duplicated, negative feelings, meaningless activities and toxic people. Vow to cruise through the season among positive people in a welcoming and nurturing environment that reflects YOU.
7. Spoil yourself rotten every day. Vow to pamper yourself at least 30 minutes each day. Turn off the cellphone and walk in the park. Take time with the magazine you have been meaning to read or soak in the tub without any interruptions. Why not schedule a visit to the spa for a pedicure or back massage?
8. Keep it simple. Dismiss competitive entertaining. If you are hosting dinner, ask guests to contribute a dish or help with the cleanup. Let others share stories, organize a game, or lead a singsong. Keep the celebration informal. Remember, the more others participate, the greater the feeling of togetherness.
9. Pause and visualize an ideal holiday moment. Is it a creatively set dinner table, a drop-dead-gorgeous tree, a rollicking night of sleigh rides and hot chocolate with friends, or a quiet interlude from the chaos of the season? Hold on to that vision and gear your activities toward making it a reality.
10. Expect the best. Attitude is everything. Envision a season where everything you do creates happiness and joy. Exchange draining activities and meaningless commitments for joy-making activities. Exercise your right to cruise through the season with delight every day.
Katherine Gibson is a bestselling author, life management expert and popular seminar leader. Her new book Pause: Putting the Brakes on a Runaway Life challenges the chaos that churns in our society with practical and down-home wisdom. Visit her website at www.katherinegibson.com.
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