No. It seems like such a simple word, doesn’t it?
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If you’re anything like me, it becomes all too easy to be the “yes (wo)man” during the holiday season. Someone to bring homemade cupcakes to the classroom party? I can do that. Looking for a mom to spearhead the Christmas caroling night at the nursing home? Sure, sign me up. Can I host the Girl Scout Christmas party at my home? Of course!
Before you know it, it’s 3am on Christmas morning: you’ve run out of wrapping paper, eaten a dozen cut out cookies, you’re pretty sure you have permanent carpet marks in your knees from wrapping presents for 3 hours, your curious three year old catches you standing on a chair to take the Elf on the Shelf down from the ceiling fan and you’re making up some elaborate excuse to get her back to bed before Santa comes.
I have four simple tips to help you avoid this kind of drama on Christmas Eve, or the 8th night of Chanukah, or during ANY holiday celebration you might want to actually, you know, ENJOY.
- Let It Go To Voicemail
I hate answering the phone. I don’t find the joy in opening myself up to questions I may not feel like answering or ideas I may not feel like talking about, especially after a long day at the office. Learning to let my phone go to voicemail allows me the necessary processing time that I need to decide if I want to say yes or if I need to say no. It also gives me the option to respond via text message if that will simplify the situation and make it easier for me to say no.
- Blame It On Your Significant Other
Holiday party? I’ll have to check with my husband to see if we can. One of the things I didn’t realize that I would gain in marriage was a conspiracy partner. I can tell him that I don’t want to do something, but tell a friend that actually my husband had other plans for us that night, even if those plans involve a long night of ice cream and Netflix. Perfect.
- Give Minimalism a Try
Less is more, right? This year, say no to the extra things that the holiday season brings. Scratch the holiday cards and post a cute photo and message to Facebook instead, skip the all out decorations and just put out the things that you truly enjoy. Stop trying to compete for the title of “Best Holiday Family” and just focus on enjoying the time that you will actually have with your family if you skip all that floofy stuff.
- Keep a Calendar and Check it Twice… Or More Often
Sometimes the commitments that we make sneak up on us and it’s a “holy reindeer, Santa!” moment when we realize that we have three holiday parties during the week we set aside to clean the house for guests. Keeping a calendar whether it’s on your phone or in a physical book and pulling it out everytime someone asks you to do something else does a couple of things to save you from overbooking yourself. First of all, you now have something that you are looking at and you can say, “Oh Sorry, Linda. It seems we are already booked that day” even if you actually aren’t, and second, it lets you see at a glance how actually booked you are.
At the end of each day, we all only have 24 hours to give. We get to choose the way that we spend that time, and at the holidays, I think it is completely fair to give that time to the people we love the most. We should consider giving of our time and talents to those less fortunate or to others who need help when we can, but not at the risk of being miserable ourselves. Self-care sometimes requires us to do less, and that is okay.
The Holiday season should be a time of joy, relaxation, and love. Learn to say no to what you don’t want so that you have the time to say yes to the magic of the season.