We are less than two weeks away from Thanksgiving. There is a lot to look forward to: big, yummy holiday dinners, parties, shopping for gifts, decorating, seasonal music and the list goes on. But for many people, the holidays bring just as much stress as they do satisfaction. So, it might be a good time, before we get caught up in the midst of things, to take a moment and prepare for the not-so-nice aspects of the holidays.
We are technically out of the recession, but for a sizable number of people that fact hasn't caught up to our realities. In the midst of tight belts and tighter budgets, it is inevitable that some changes to traditional holiday spending might be in order.
Scale Back: Does everyone on your list need a gift? This especially applies to all of those acquaintance gifts. Little things can add up to a lot. When it comes to adult family members, consider skipping gift exchanges all together or possibly doing a Secret Santa with a spending limit.
Lower Expectations: When it comes to teens and older children, you might want to explain that Christmas might be a little different this year. It might not be possible to get everything on a long list but ask them what they would like the most or in a specific monetary range.
For many this is either the best part of Christmas or the worst. The key here is to have a clear plan for those relatives that might try your patience or push your buttons.
Make It a Team Effort: Pair up with a sibling, cousin or friend that will be attending the same family function and lean on each other for support. Things immediately seem better when you realize that you aren't in it alone.
Set Boundaries: Who says you have to stay at the dinner all-day and well into the night? If you aren't hosting dinner, plan on leaving a little early. Let people know what is off-limits before hand, if possible. If you are dealing with unemployment or a recent divorce, let several supportive family members know that you would rather not talk about it. In fact, engage members of your team to help you out if those touchy subjects come up.
The key is to have a plan - whether it is a spending plan, a plan for handling family or for not eating too much at the company party - if you think it through in advance you will be able to avoid a lot of sticky or stressful situations, or at least get through them with less drama and damage.