Be Kind: Be kind both to yourself and others. When we are grouped together with differing and often quite high expectations, we need to be slow to anger and quick to forgive. During holidays where family gathers together, there are often several generations, who do not normally occupy the same space, coming together. Each person or group will have their own ideas as to what constitutes a “perfect” event. Bear in mind your “perfect” is someone else’s endurance test. Try to be kind, to accommodate each other and remember it’s not for very long. If you are relaxed, then just go with the flow; often spontaneity works very well. However, if you like to know what’s happening, then offer to do certain things that you feel are important, ascertain timings and remember to let others have some of what they would like or need.
Be Patient: We each have our own pace at which we work best. Try to acknowledge this and also to remember there are many ways to achieve a similar end. Someone else may work much more quickly than you, seeming to cut corners. It may be that some of the ingredients you deem necessary they feel are superfluous or maybe they have a different method for achieving a similar result. Maybe they are way too slow and you know a better way of doing things. Whichever is the case, try not to interfere when others have been allocated tasks – ask yourself how much it will matter if the Brussel sprouts are cooked differently or the Christmas cake has wonky icing?
Delegate: This particularly applies to people who are hosting an event or to the family member that seems to create the event for everyone else and ends up feeling tired and martyred. Ask people to bring things, make things and do things. Most people love to be involved and to contribute, those who don’t must be encouraged! When you ask for others’ help, let them do it their way and be lavish with praise. This is how you get offers of help; by showing gratitude. If you tell others what to do or are too directive, prescriptive or complain about their efforts, then you will deserve to be doing everything yourself. If you are not naturally laid back and expansive, try – at least during the holiday period – to model yourself on someone who is.
Timing: Timing is everything in terms of interaction between people. Try not to criticise others when you, or they, are tired. Interrupting people or asking them to help you when they are occupied will lessen your chances of success. Try not to use a parental tone with others, either – it’s a red rag to other adults and engenders the sulks in children over about 10 years old. Use a reasonable tone and time your requests (or indeed, complaints!) well. Ask for suggestions and be inclusive. This will result in happier outcomes for all.
Good Enough: Sometimes things only have to be “good enough." Expending energy where it is not returned is futile and can make you resentful. So, if no one cares whether you make or buy a Christmas cake, buy it unless it gives you huge satisfaction to make it. Don’t go the “extra mile” when no-one will care or notice. Remember if you are the main organizer of any event, you are the one who needs to be happy with the amount of effort you put in. Pick your battles – some things matter and others don’t! Actually, most things don’t. Give everyone a break and pick a few things that you feel are crucial and leave the rest to be “good enough”.
Self-care: Look after yourself. If you are exhausted or resentful no-one will benefit from your company. During the holidays it is easy to overdo all sorts of things; overeating, overdrinking, over partying, over planning. The reverse is to underdo certain things; sleep, leisure, me-time, and hydration. Try to have a balanced approach and to choose what you feel you cannot miss with care and let some things go. Change your FOMO (fear of missing out) to LOMO (love of missing out). If at all possible build in some exercise every day – a walk, some yoga or just dance around to some favorite tunes. Exercise lifts your mood and will energize, rather than exhaust you.
Have fun: Enjoy yourself and your friends and family. If you are alone, try to concentrate on doing things that give you pleasure; maybe reading, catching a film or preparing or buying some special food. If you are with others, enjoy their company. Don’t be so busy that you miss talking and hanging out. A few well-chosen games can bring generations, or people with very different interests, together and be an icebreaker. If you’re not having fun, then change what you’re doing – have a look at the list above and apply some of the suggestions. For as regular readers of my articles will know one of my favorite sayings is, “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always got.”