This post is the first in a holiday series that I hope will help you manage the emotional, mental, physical, and financial clutter that can accompany the year’s end.
NOW THAT Halloween has come and gone, it’s full steam ahead into what is typically a super busy holiday season. In fact, you may have already received some Save the Dates or invitations, whether for Thanksgiving, a company holiday party, or a gift swap. I want to challenge you to take your time before responding.
Before I risk getting swallowed up by the holiday hubbub, I like to remember what I love about this time of year and how I can make those things a priority. With a finite amount of time, money, and energy, I want to give it to what matters most to me and keep it from what doesn’t.
My friend, Debbie, for example, makes it a point to visit the German markets near where she lives, while making a conscious decision to not accept an invitation just to keep the peace. As she says, she is no longer willing to attend something that “looks good on the outside, but feels terrible on the inside.”
Some things on my Must Do list during the holiday season are:
- Take a drive to see Christmas lights
- Allow plenty of time to choose thoughtful gift
- Attend the local holiday stroll through beautifully-decorated shops and market
- Find someplace to listen to Christmas caroler
- Get together with friends who can be both silly and dee
- Create Blessings Bags with my family for those suffering from homelessnes
- Support small businesses whenever possible
Things on my Won’t Do list are:
- Accept invitations out of guilt or obligation
- Spend time with Negative Nellies
- Go to a mall
- Shop on Thanksgiving or Black Friday
- Buy meaningless presents
- Get caught up in the consumerism/sale mentality and overspend
To accomplish this, I need to be as present (pun intended) as possible and be careful to not make any decisions in haste. By practicing the power of the pause, I have a much better chance of not getting locked into something I don’t want to attend or have to worry about cancelling at a later date.
So how do you say no with grace? Depending on the person or situation, there are a couple ways you can go about it. First determine if a simple decline will do. This approach is good for those outside of your inner circle, but can also work for those close to you as well.
“I’m not available to attend, but thank you for thinking of me.”
Short, sweet, and to the point. You’re not offering anything to debate there.
The mistake many run into is over-explaining. For example, if you say, “Oh I can’t. I have to do my baking that night,” you invite debate. The other person could respond with, “Well, can’t you get your baking done ahead of time so you can come?” Then the tennis match begins. Back and forth, and back and forth.
Now if it’s someone who might need a bit more, such as a close family member or friend, then you can consider being fully transparent.
“I’m being really conscious of not overfilling my calendar this year so I can enjoy the holidays instead of rush through them so I’ve decided to commit to fewer invitations this year. I hope you understand.”
Still gracious and beautifully honest. And that is all you are responsible for.
How the other person receives your answer is theirs to manage. The only approval you need is yours.
This week, commit to making a list of your own “musts” and “mustn’ts.” The season goes by so quickly, but with some advanced planning, you can make these next couple of months filled with memories to last a lifetime.
You deserve to spend your time — holidays or otherwise — as you wish as much as possible. Instead of avoiding conflict, avoid regret.
Next week, I’ll share tips on how to be intentional in your gift giving, both in regards to who you shop for and what you buy.
I wish you space and clarity,