Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Realistic Holiday Expectations

As wonderful as holidays are, they can also be a time of stress for individuals and families. Some of this stress comes from the expectations we each have of the holiday season. The difference between our expectations and our reality can be disappointing. Here are some ideas to maximize the pleasure of the holiday season.

Look at the difference between your expectations and your reality by assessing your current situation (including time and money) and acknowledge the limitations you and your family might have. Is it reasonable to expect that you can put on a holiday dinner just like grandma used to make? Is it reasonable for your children to expect the same amount of gifts under the tree this year if you have been out of a job for the past three months?

Adjust your plans and budget to be more realistic. Aim for reasonable and reachable goals. Be honest about your situation and your feelings with family members. A good start to a conversation might be: “I need to stick to a tighter budget this year and would like to adjust our holiday spending.” Or “I would like to cut back on the number of gifts we exchange this year, would you be willing to do this?”

Discuss gift giving in advance – Thanksgiving is a great time to talk about the December holiday plans. Offer a gift of time or help instead of a purchased object. In fact, I would love a home-made coupon book for car washes, window cleaning, weed-pulling or a back massage in my stocking! Children might like homemade coupons or gift certificates for one hour of Monopoly playing, a bike ride together, or one day free from chores. Remember to include fun activities for your family!

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