Dear Future Danielle –
I should have written this letter last year, and the year before; but to be fair, talking to yourself (myself?) is a little crazy. Though, I am way past that point now, and I bet, if you’re reading this next year, you are too. After a long day of running here and there and forgetting this and that, I had to sit down and take a look at myself and how I choose to celebrate the holidays. “Celebrate” may be too strong of a term – “endure?” I LOVE winter and everything that comes with it…except the stress (that I put on myself!) So I made a list of ways to minimize stress in the coming years – my 5 steps to not losing my cool:
1. Let it go! No, not the song. (Although if you need a good reminder, by all means, hum along.) This season of festivities is not the time to be ambitious. I know, I know – your Pinterest boards are tempting you to do it all, but this season is not about perfect cookies or being the “crafty mom” or impressing the neighbors. Which goes along with #3.
2. Pick a go-to! Choose one SIMPLE recipe to make for all your parties. No more than five ingredients. Do you hear me? FIVE. Not only will it save you time and stress because you know what you’re doing for every party ahead of time, it also will save you money. If you have it planned and budgeted to make one recipe several times, you can buy in bulk before hand. If you’re really on top of things, buy on sale and freeze! Can I make a friendly suggestion, self to self? Brown sugar kielbasa is so easy and delicious – always a crowd favorite.
3. It really is the thought! Get your pride in check, woman! Are you planning on making special treats or cookies for neighbors and friends because you want them to think you’re talented? Because I’m pretty sure if you stop thinking about what they think of you and start thinking of them, you will find that they don’t care what you make or how long it took. So you might as well go simple! I mean, come on. Who doesn’t love basic chocolate chip cookies? Why spend days making extravagant gestures when simple ones mean just as much? It really is the thought, so stop making it about you.
4. Stick to the plan! Gifts – oh goody. Every year I say that I am going to work on gifts all year. Do I? No. So here’s my plan (stick with it okay?) Make a list at the beginning of the year. Look for those items throughout the year on sale. The gifts you want to make? Collect the materials through the year and start making early. And a good rule of thumb: NO PERISHABLES! It’s too much, too close to Christmas. Stuff your stockings with practicals and small things. Don’t over spend on the kiddos. They may get less from you, but they will get more than enough from everyone else.
5. Don’t let your plans steal your joy! I know you love traditions, but don’t overwhelm yourself (or your budget.) Spontaneity is fun too! Don’t let your plans steal your joy, or time, or memories. Sometimes you get so concerned with making memories, you miss out on them going on right around you. You can’t do it all, so live simply and love every moment. Don’t plan it all away. You’ll never get this Christmas again.