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  • Writer's pictureDr. CK Bray

Holiday Survival Guide

Has it really been a year since we ate all that Thanksgiving turkey and set up the Christmas tree or Hanukkah menorah? It's hard to believe, but yes, the end-of-the-year holidays are upon us once again.

In the spirit of holiday giving, I'm sharing a holiday survival guide. It's to help you have a more relaxing, rejuvenating, fun, and memorable holiday season. Here are 10 tips to make sure you do this holiday season right.

1. Party going

Chances are good that you'll have to attend at least one office party, either your own or your spouse's. Yes, it's true. You may be stuck seated next to the guy who won't stop talking or find yourself in a big room surrounded by unfamiliar faces but grin and bear it. On the other hand, it's only a few hours once a year, and it's probably an obligation your spouse or significant other can't afford to miss. So, make the best of it. Tag along with your spouse and contribute to the conversations. You'll find that time does fly when you're joyfully doing something for someone else. You just might find a new friend.

2. Budget busting

Going broke at holiday time seems to be a tradition in many homes. One study reported that the average American needs until June of the following year to dig out of the holiday financial hole. That's a tragedy. The best solution is first to determine what you can afford. Second, make a shopping trip based on that amount. Third, stay within your budget. Finally, making gifts is an excellent way to reduce your holiday overhead. I love coupons from my adult children. My favorite is the "I won't be mad at Dad coupon" when I do or say something I shouldn't. I also love $5.00 or $10.00 gift cards to my favorite soda shop or cookie place.

3. Running ragged

During the holidays, too many families overbook themselves. Between the holiday shopping frenzy, the office parties and parties given by friends, and the shuttling to and from relatives' homes, we run ourselves ragged trying to satisfy too many people. STOP and spend time with those you love. Invest in those most important to you. Make memories by putting together a puzzle, drinking hot chocolate, or watching a Hallmark movie. (I agreed to watch three this year, that's plenty of moments right there.)

4. Extra eating

Let's face it; we eat way too much during the holidays. And that wouldn't be so bad, but we also eat the wrong things. At this time of year, we have co-worker Bob, who brings his indescribable fudge to work, and our Aunt Andrea with her irresistible vegetable dip (which we must eat because she makes it only once a year). We have to have seconds and then thirds. If we're taking until June to pay off our holiday bills, we're probably taking until August to work off the holiday weight we've gained. Make this year the one where only the turkey is stuffed.

5. Missing meanings

The nation's letter carriers are one class of people who don't have to worry about how much they eat during the holidays. That's because the additional weight of the holiday catalogs gives them a daily workout comparable to hours on the treadmill. But the catalogs can also add something else: misguided values. At this time of year, it is important to remind ourselves of the real meaning of our celebrations. For any religious person, there is a renewal of our faith that often gets lost in gift-giving. So this year, vow to concentrate on the big picture. Concern yourself with holiday values, not holiday bargains. Remember, people love and remember experiences far more than they do gifts.

6. Dumb drinking

During the holidays, we also drink too much. New Year's Eve is a particularly bad time of year for drinking and driving. The holiday season is a perfect time of year for liquor companies because they foster the notion that no holiday celebration is complete without alcohol. This year, resolve not to purchase liquor as a gift and resolve to limit your imbibing to one glass of wine or beer with dinner. You'll feel better the next morning and won't have trouble remembering whether you had a good time the night before. Recently 60 minutes, a tv news magazine, had a segment on the new market of "mocktails." You don't have to drink to have fun.

7. People pettiness

We don't practice enough forgiveness or "forgetness" during holiday time. At a time when we should be organizing happy family celebrations, many of us are stuck in "pettiness overdrive." We decline invitations or leave people out because we remember that nine months ago, our cousin seated us in the back of the ballroom at her wedding reception or because our mother didn't thank us for driving her to the doctor. Our overreactions to these minor annoyances cause us to deprive our kids of meaningful time with extended family. This is the time of year to be the bigger person. See the big picture.

8. Silly spending

Whose idea was it to hold sales the day after Thanksgiving, anyway? Many of us don't work on that day, but instead of relaxing with family and friends, we're busy trying to save a few dollars on gifts that no one really needs and probably never will use. And the crowds! Do yourself a favor and spend the day after Thanksgiving as a family.

9. Hubby hounding

Our spouse or significant other may not be wired for holiday activities or give us the gifts we want. They may even wait until far too late to get their shopping done and wind up grabbing something that would look better on your canine than it would look on you. So give your spouse or significant a break. I suggest telling people what you want. I know everyone loves surprises until that surprise is a fruit cake.

10. Stupid shopping

Last but not least, is one action we can take to avoid big time spoiling of our holidays. This year, don't forget to save your receipts!

*This article was initially published in Perspective, November 2000 issue. Dr. Laura






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