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A Magical Holiday Season
By Julie Fuimano, MBA, BSN, RN & Cindy Diccianni, RN, CSA

Has the anxiety over your holiday plans started yet? Have you got a knot in your stomach at the thought of your mother-in-lawís cooking? Do you feel the pain in your pocket at the thought of all of the money youíll be spending?

If this sounds familiar, take heart in the fact that you are not alone. You are among tens of thousands of people who start to feel pangs of dread descending upon them and stress levels rising as the holidays approach. You may wonder if all this holiday fuss is worth it as you consider all of the things that need to be done, schedules to coordinate, people to see, phone calls to make, cards to send, food to cook and purchases to make. If youíre like many, you canít wait until the holidays are over. But youíve forgotten the essential ingredient of the holidays Ė magic. By choosing to get bogged down by the myriad of details, youíre not experiencing the true meaning of the holidays.

Yes, you made the choices that created your previous holiday experiences. The good news is that if you werenít happy with your past experiences, you can choose to do things differently. You work so hard all year long; there is no reason to stress about the holidays. This year, make the holidays meaningful by exploring new possibilities for a holiday filled with peace and joy. By starting new traditions, you bring magic into the season.

Here are ten steps for creating a magical holiday season.

1. Consider what your perfect holiday would look like. 

Start with the end in mind by visualizing what would bring you the most joy and fulfillment. Who would you spend time with? Would you cook, go out or carry out? Also, consider what you want the holidays to mean to you.

2. Choose to do only those things that you really enjoy
(and eliminate the things you donít).

Yes, you do have a choice. If every year your in-laws give you grief, consider letting your spouse go by his/herself and you go to your parents alone. Or, you can limit the amount of time you spend there. The point is you can decide to do the holiday things that bring you the most joy.

3. Create new traditions that feel good.

If every year you cook for 50 people and your ideal holiday would have you cooking for only 10 people, then do it! Let everyone know that this year you will be creating a new tradition. Or, it may be time to consider rotating the cooking responsibility to another family member.

Consider your volunteer activities and assisting at a soup kitchen either alone or as a family project. The best way to add meaning to the holidays is to do something for those less fortunate. Youíll also be more grateful for what you have.

4. Communicate with your family, friends and coworkers about their ideal holiday.

Invite their input so they can participate in creating a magical holiday. Without family and friends, itís not much of a holiday season. Consider foregoing gifts this year and arranging to spend quality time together. Perhaps you could decide on a project or volunteer activity that would bring everyone together and add meaning rather than buying gifts that no one really needs anyway.

5. Plan ahead.

Start planning in advance by creating a list of the things you may need for your holiday. The more organized you are, the less stress you will experience and the more fun you can make even the most mundane activities (like having the children stamp letters!) Youíll also want to plan your volunteer activities early.

6. Create a budget.

Consider the total amount of money you want to spend this holiday. Write it down. If you have trouble deciding on an amount, look at what you spent last year. Create a list identifying who gets gifts and how much to spend for each person. If you donít have the money to spend, donít go into debt. Consider baking or crafting something for the special people in your life. No one expects you to spend your retirement money on gifts. Know your limit!

7. Stay within your limit.

Take care of your spending by closely watching each dollar you spend. Creating a budget does no good unless you are willing to stick to it. Keep track of all expenditures by creating a simple spreadsheet. Every item including gifts, cards, wrapping paper, ornaments, lights, etc. adds to the total cost of your holiday. Donít let holidays become an excuse to go on a spending spree! By being more careful as to the purchases you do make, you may find enough money to take an extra vacation next year or make an extra mortgage payment. Our society creates the false belief that we must purchase something for everyone we come in contact with throughout the entire year. You can choose to not buy into this belief. Make donations in the names of friends and family members. Refuse to spend your money frivolously Ė you work too hard for every dollar you earn to waste any of it.

8. Limit your use of credit cards.

If you use cash for all of your purchases, youíll be less likely to overspend.

9. Keep it simple.

The holidays need not be complicated and overwhelming. If you feel yourself getting stressed, look for the source of your physical or emotional resistance. Attempting to do too much or to be all things to all people will not bring magic into your life. Keep it simple. Seek to please yourself.

10. Think fun!

Make decisions of how to spend your time based on where youíll have the most fun. If youíre thinking of having fun, thereís not much room for stress.

Create meaning and personal fulfillment by paying close attention to what brings you the most joy. Talk with your family, friends and coworkers about what worked and what youíd like to do different next year. Focus on having fun and keeping it simple.

This year, choose to create a magical holiday, one that creates the kinds of memories that last a lifetime. Make this your best holiday ever!

Julie Fuimano and Cindy Diccianni are co-founders of Nurturing Your Success, Inc., an organization dedicated to educating, inspiring and promoting personal fulfillment in your life, career and finances. You may visit them at www.nurturingyoursuccess.com

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