The stores have their Christmas decorations out at the beginning of October. You can ignore them for a minute, but now, the holidays are right around the corner. Are you totally stressing? Deep breaths my friend.
We are a family of planners. Hubby with his military background, and me being the naturally organized planner (some may call it OCD… I call it naturally organized planner…. just sayin).
There is a method called PACE that the military, special forces, and survivalists use to plan.
Lace up your combat boots and let’s survive the holidays!
This is your preferred course of action.
1. Make a list of your goals, objectives, and actions. What do you want to accomplish this holiday season? Where are you celebrating? Are you traveling or hosting? How many cookie exchanges are you going to participate in? Are you sending a family newsletter or regular cards? What about decorating? Shopping, presents and wrapping? Christmas concerts? Etc… etc. Write it ALL down.
2. Get out your calendar. Write down all of the known events. Will you be attending all of these? Circle the ones you ABSOLUTELY must or want to go to. Now, back up the planning from there.
3. Make a list of everything you can think of – action items – that have to be done. Look at your calendar and note these items where they need to go. For example, if you are traveling to family’s house for Thanksgiving, and this is the only time you will see your nephew, you will need to have his present purchased and wrapped prior to Thanksgiving. Back up further, do you have wrapping paper on hand before Thanksgiving?
If the cookie exchange is on December 6th, then you will want to bake cookies earlier in that week. Back that up even further, you will want to purchase cookie baking supplies and extra flour a few days prior. Got it?
This is your primary backup plan.
1. Go back to those MUST/WANT’s and come up with an alternate solution. For example, if you don’t have the present purchased and wrapped to give to your nephew at Thanksgiving, can you purchase it online and send it to their home? If something comes up and you don’t have time to bake enough cookies for the exchange, can you run to the store on your way and pick up ice or snacks to take along?
2. What stresses you out that you want to take off the list? Instead of writing a newsletter, is a card sufficient? Instead of going to three cookies exchanges, how about one? Don’t pack your schedule so tight that you don’t enjoy everything. It’s ok to say no and take some items off the list.
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This is when Primary and Alternate fails and you need to have a next-level plan of action.
What is the worst case scenario? If you don’t get the family newsletter or cards out, can you send a nice email to your friends and family? Can you drop your kids off at an event and not go yourself? If you don’t purchase a present for your nephew online, can you send money or a gift card in a card?
While contingency isn’t the most preferred, you still need to be ok if you go here. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do everything. Your job is not to do everything, your job to enjoy the holidays with your family.
This is the all else fails or worst case scenario. Christmas 2010, I was knee deep in cancer treatment. I was sick from chemo. Christmas that year was me, Hubby, and my parents sitting in the living room enjoying quiet time together because I was too sick to leave the house. I ate Santa shaped jello because I couldn’t stomach anything else.
Christmas 2011, we had just moved and Christmas was surrounded by boxes in our new house. Those two years were the complete opposite of the “picture perfect” Christmas. But you know what, they were two perfect Christmases because I was with my family and we had each other.
Christmas isn’t about the decorations and presents and all things “perfect.” Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ, and about celebrating love. And that my friends, is all you need for a “perfect” Christmas. So whatever happens, whatever you get accomplished or not, whatever goes wrong…. don’t sweat the small stuff. Take a deep breath and remember what is most important.
And in the meantime, I hope the PACE style planning helps you maintain a relatively stress-free holiday season!
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Love, hugs, and enjoying the preparations for Christmas.
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