Saying “no” during the holidays seems fairly counter-intuitive, but it is potentially one of the wisest strategies for actually ENJOYING the season. Have a hard time saying, “No”? A little bit of advance-planning and list-making may give you the focus and momentum necessary for changing your approach.
- DREAM A LITTLE. If your holiday plans were up to you, how would you prefer to celebrate?
- What do you most enjoy about this time of year?
- Which people are your favorites? Who would you prioritize?
- What places, events, moments, and purchases would you happily say yes to?
- MAKE YOUR “PREFERRED” PLANS FIRST.
It’s amazing how quickly November and December can fill up, and before we know it, it’s mid-January, the romance of the holidays is gone, and somehow, we didn’t have time for the thing we wanted most… schedule the important things first and protect them.
- BUDGET YOUR money AND YOUR time.
Start by making a list of:
- Parties, events, outings, church services you plan to attend
- Parties or events you plan to host
- People you plan to purchase gifts for
Think through immediate & extended family (spouse or significant other, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins), friends (local & long distance), professional relationships, co-workers, employees, boss, neighbors, teachers, coaches, the bus driver, tutor, baby sitters, your pastor, your church small groups, service providers (fire and police, mailman, hairdresser), etc.
Don’t forget the additional costs of Christmas:
- Holiday Attire – That party that you’ll want a new outfit for? New shoes? Just for you? Or new clothes for the whole family?
- Special Additions – Decorations, fun food, the fancy drinks, the extra money you’ll spend at Starbucks on seasonal latte’s or Cranberry Bliss Bars. =)
- Holiday Greetings – If you’re planning to send a holiday greeting card, factor in the expense of what you’re planning to purchase – for example a simple store bought card versus a personalizing a card with pictures you’ve taken throughout the year. Or are you planning a family photograph session with a hired photographer? Are you sending 50 cards or 300? Also, include the cost of postage.
- Travel – if you’re headed out of town, include mileage or flights and any extra expenses you expect to incur.
- CHOOSE YOUR “YES”es and PLAN YOUR “NO”s.
After making the list of all that you plan to attend, participate in, and host, evaluate the amount of time required. Is there room for actually enjoying life in the process? Consider scheduling some down time, or crossing some things off the list that aren’t essential.
Now you can look at your budget and decide how much you can afford to spend on Christmas, total. That will inform how many gifts you plan to purchase, as well as how much you spend on each gift (don’t forget to factor in shipping costs)! It will also shape what you say yes to – or how you say yes – and when you say “no.” For instance, “We’ll host the party and provide a main dish and all the serving stuff – everybody else bring a side and their beverage of choice.” Or, five white elephant parties at $20 a pop: “Well… I’m sorry, I’m not going to make it to this one.” Or, “Hey, we can’t wait to see everybody! I wonder how can we simplify this meal or this gift-giving ordeal so that we can actually enjoy time together and not still be paying off the credit card in June?”
Your time and your money are so valuable – and they are also limited. Taking some time now to plan and discuss expectations and limits ahead of time will go a long way in helping you enjoy being with the people you love.
Mindy Pierce, MA , LPC
MPierce @ GROWCounseling.com