HOLIDAY HACKS: Save Time, Money & Precious Emotional Capital

(How to Survive THRIVE during the holidays.)

I used to love the holidays … This time of year meant parties, presents, magical rituals, decorations, good tidings (what does that even mean btw?), etc. Especially when I was a kid. And even when I was an adult (but before I was a grown up).

When “grown up” pressures like mortgages, career and kids enter the picture, the holidays can seem like another pressure (if you have asked yourself or your partner incredulous questions like “you spent how much at Target?” “You said YES to both parties on Saturday night?” then you know what I mean)

Recognizing this, here are 10 tips to ensure more joy and less frazzle this holiday season.

Holiday commitments not only take money, they take time and emotional energy.  Your “bank” only has so much in the reserve. Be mindful of the toll it all takes.  Be deliberate and surgical if you have to, in order to avoid totally depleting your precious resources.

I’ve broken these tips into the 3 currency categories (money, time, emotional) for ease because some people really struggle to keep a grip on the finances during this time, while others burn out emotionally from family dynamics and others are spread to thin because of time commitments. We all pay one way or another.


Tip #1: Family time well spent, alone time well-earned.
When visiting family, coordinate activities that encourage bonding through physical exertion during the day (rock climbing gym? A fun run?) and an intellectual or creative challenge during the evening (game night!?). These kinds of activities promote camaraderie and stimulate endorphins (happy chemical linked to euphoria & wellbeing) and dopamine (happy chemical linked to motivation & reward).

True Fact: I love to sit on the couch, drinking wine, but I also recognize this “group activity” can encourage old toxic family dynamics.

And don’t forget to build in alone time. We all need a break from group energy. (Don’t be afraid to get a hotel room, when visiting from long distance!)

Tip #2: Go to a Place of Worship.
Before having a child and my own business (both of which are volatile and often out of my control), i wouldn’t have considered church any other time than the holidays.  That’s changed.  I now go to a Unity church which honors all spiritual traditions, b/c it’s an hour of peace and positivity.

I can remember going to church as a kid and being bored to tears. I often spied my dad, next to me, “praying” (aka sleeping). As a mom, I now cherish a moment to be bored, sleep or meditate.

Tip #3: Forgive someone you’ve been holding a grudge towards.
Your heart will open as a result, and you will feel more free to give and receive love. That openness is critical to connection – which we’re all hungry for.

Tip #4: Pet a puppy.
Studies show – even something as simple as petting an animal can release the chemical Oxytocin in our brain, which encourages trust & empathy and is tied to optimism.


Tip #5: Surprise your employees with the gift of time off.
If I’ve learned anything from my coaching clients, it’s that they want to feel appreciated and valued in their jobs. (And sadly, often do not feel this way) As a manager, one way to do this is gratitude. This Christmas, show them how much you value your employees’ time (and save some of your hard earned money to boot). Instead of buying them bottles of wine or giving them a gift certificate…gift them an ‘off the books’ half day off (even better – full day if you can swing it!) of their choice.

Tip #6: Help others.
Instead of spending money on lavish presents for loved ones, gift your time and volunteer for their favorite charities in the new year. Bonus points for doing it with them (this kind of shared experience ensures deeper friendship, all while making the world a better place!). My personal perspective on charity is that it’s secretly the most selfish thing we can do because it the volunteer feel as good or maybe better than those they are helping. #everybodywins

Tip #7: Write a Haiku.  A what?
Instead of buying a gift, write a custom Haiku (serious or funny) to your loved one. (for your reference: The haiku is a Japanese verse in three lines.  Line one has 5 syllables, line 2 has 7 syllables and line three has 5 syllables. Haiku is a mood poem and it doesn’t use any metaphors or similes.)


Tip #8: Swap out regularly scheduled programming.
For every party you say yes to, for every visit to see Santa at the mall, for every hour spent writing Christmas cards, delete one regularly scheduled activity.  Hint: you will be tempted, but don’t cut out activities that support your spirit like exercise or much needed down time.

Tip #9: Outsource.
This is at odds with saving money, but as I said in the beginning…we all pay one way or another…time, money or emotions.  If you’ve got more money than time right now…outsource! Spend money on the printed labels for Christmas cards, buy Blue Apron dinners randomly for the next few weeks. Have a cleaning service come right before big events. Outsource whatever task you most dread on the To Do List.

And Tip #10: 
Take Time. Take a Pause. Take Breaths. Take Walks. Every family conflict, every negative thought, every work problem transforms with TIME.

Speaking of time…
If you stumble upon a time machine over the holidays, will you send it to my house, because I am having trouble making more of it!

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