by: Marie M. Roker
1. Set limits for yourself.
If you feel overwhelmed with shopping, cooking and visiting relatives don't add more to your plate. Take 10-15 minute breaks to take e a walk, meditate, read, pray or just sit still. Don't let anyone guilt you into doing something you don't want to do. Be firm with family and friends about your need to take a break.
Good resource: http://www.relaxandbreathe.com
2. Shop Early or Online.
I'm sure your kids have a list of items for you to go on a scavenger hunt. Save yourself the headache and shop online. Many online retailers like Amazon.com. Target and Wal-Mart have great deals. If you want to avoid another Tickle Me Elmo disaster, shop online. Good resource for toys: http://www.successfulchild.com
3. Respond, don't react to annoying family members.
If your in-laws are like Frank and Marie Barone from Everybody Love Raymond, then you already know what you are dealing with. They are not going to change and chances are they get a kick out of seeing you frustrated. Let it go and decide that you are not going to let anyone ruin the holidays for you. If someone says something to upset you, assert yourself and let them know that you will not be disrespected. Arguing or defending yourself will only make things escalate. If someone brings up something painful from the past, simply tell the, "This is not a good time for discussing this matter."
Good Resource: http://www.difficultpeople.com
4. Don't Try to Be a Host/Hostess Extraordinaire.
Just because Martha Stewart is in jail, doesn't mean you have to be her replacement. Take turns going to other relatives’ homes for the holidays. If you had everyone over for Thanksgiving, go to someone else's home for Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.
5. Shop Wisely.
Buy people what you know they'll want for the holidays. You'll end up wasting your money and time for a recyclable gift. If you know your husband doesn't like skiing, don't buy him a trip to a Ski Resort. People usually drop hints during the year, so pay attention when they are talking. Have alternatives for gifts. Let your children know in advance that there might be a chance that you won't find their gift.
6. Don't Overspend.
Give yourself a budget and stick to it. Need to compare prices? Use an online tool such as http://www.shopping.com, http://www.bizrate.com, http://www.activshopper.com or http://www.pricegrabber.com. Limit yourself to gifts for people on your list. If you need extra gifts (just in case someone gives you one), buy a basket and fill it with candles, and other goodies.
7. Avoid too much alcohol consumption.
Alcohol and family gatherings are a lethal combination. You can not control what the people around you do, but you can control yourself.
8. Stop Wishing for a Perfect Holiday.
If you want to avoid disappointment, don't have expectations of perfection. Everyone has flaws and the holidays may not go as plan. Go with the flow while being optimistic.
9. Take Care of Yourself.
This is not the time for you to slack off of your self care. Exercise, eat right and get adequate sleep. Don't overindulge at parties or family gatherings.
The holidays can be lonely or you may not be in a celebratory mood. Instead of sulking, go out with a friend or do something that makes you happy. Keep yourself busy and make plans to treat yourself. If you need spiritual guidance, try visiting a church, mosque or synagogue.