Editing Your Holiday To-Do List

The holidays are approaching, and I want to do it all! Make wrapping paper, make and send cards, bake treats for work friends/faraway friends/family/parties I'm attending, find the perfect gift for everyone I love, and so much more. But December has arrived, and I'm slowly admitting to myself that I can't do it all. Someone has to put her foot down and cross — not check — things off her to-do list, and I guess that someone is me. It's so easy to get caught up in all the excitement, to want to uphold beloved traditions and create new ones, to show everybody how much they mean to you, and to try to make the season magical for all your loved ones. And while there's nothing wrong with any of those things, they can add up to an overwhelming, stressful, expensive winter. This year, I'm going to try to keep that from happening.

The first time I had to put my foot down this year was when it was announced that the theme of my company's holiday party was "polka dots". Now, normally I would troll the thrift stores looking for the perfect polka dot dress to wear, wearing myself out in the process. I was instantly excited about the hunt, but in the next instant I told myself, "NO. You have a dress with sequins, sequins are just sparkly polka dots, let's call it Good Enough." It was a strangely exhilarating moment, and I was floored by the concept of Not Doing Something.

I've made the same decision regarding wrapping paper. My original plan was to design and make several stencils, use the stencils and spray paint to customize a roll of kraft paper (out on my fire escape, I guess), then find the perfect ribbon to complete the packages. Nope. I bought craft paper, I found some awesome sparkly garland for $2, done. It might not be the most magical packaging in the world, but it will be sufficiently magical, so again: Good Enough.

The hardest limits to establish have been gift-related. I love giving gifts, I want people to know how much they enrich my life, and I want to show them how much I adore them, but I don't have unlimited funds. And you can't just keep buying presents until 5 minutes before the gift exchange. It must stop sometime… I'm just not quite there yet.

What limits have you had to create and enforce? When I wrote about Holiday Shopping In August, many of you said you've attempted to get your families to draw names for gift-giving, rather than buying for every single aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, and second cousin, or have even opted out of extended-family gift-giving altogether. As someone with 65 people in her family at last count, I am right there with you!

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