We are coming into the holidays and they can bring out a lot of emotions. I have gone through the holidays where they felt like a blur — chaotic and frazzled. And I’ve gone through them where I really enjoyed them and felt absolutely wonderful. I want to share what I think I did right, what I think I did wrong, and how we can step into this holiday season and just enjoy it more.
How can we have more contentment, more peace, more fun, more laughter, more memories, all the good stuff, and less of feeling frazzled and frantic and stressed.
So here we go. Let’s dive into my time saving, keep-you-sane, favorite Holiday Hacks.
This will help:
👉 Demolish holiday feelings of stress and overwhelm
👉 Give you back more enjoyment in your holidays
👉 Shift your focus from frantic to freeing
In this episode:
4:35 Time Saving, Keep-You-Sane Holiday Hacks
8:53 Schedule in the Magic, First.
13:42 Prioritize Your To-Do List
16:43 Look For Potential Overwhelm
19:00 Don’t Overcommit
21:04 Simplify Gift Giving
23:10 Go With What You Know
25:00 Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
26:50 Focus on Gratitude, Joy and Connection
When it comes to the holidays and all the different things that we feel like we need to be getting done, all those giant to-do lists that we make, we can rush through the entire season and miss the joy of it if we don’t intentionally set out to savor this season. This is why mindset is absolutely where I want to start this conversation with you because I just want to encourage you (and encourage me), to savor this season. Let’s really enjoy it. Let’s believe that there will be enough time for everything that we need to do. And if there’s not, then well, it’s gonna be okay — and that the people we are with are what matter most. Okay?
Now that we have that covered we can jump into these very tangible hacks. They are doable, but I just don’t know that they’re going to have the right effect if we don’t set our intention at the very beginning and commit to making time to just love, to be there, to be present, to have fun, to laugh, all the good things. So remember, mindset and intention matters.
SCHEDULE THE MAGIC FIRST
My very first hack for you is to schedule in the magic first. I learned this the hard way (seems like I learn a lot of things this way) over a decade ago in my first and second year of business. I was super busy, which was such a blessing. I mean, it was making the difference for the kind of holiday we were going to be able to have because of the income that was coming in.
But I hadn’t learned boundaries. I wasn’t good at saying no or even really having a plan in place of where I wanted things to fit in. So I was really letting other people create my calendar and I said yes to all of these things.
This meant that when opportunities came up to do something as a family, I wasn’t available, and it was very discouraging. I felt really guilty, and really sad. I felt resentful. It was really hard, and I looked at that situation and I asked myself, “Okay, how am I going to make sure that this does not happen again?”
And the obvious solution was that I should be scheduling in the magic first. I should be scheduling in those family traditions, those special moments that we really want to do, before I let other things get scheduled in. They might have to get moved around, but this way I know what activities are important to our family and I make them a priority at the beginning of the holiday season instead of panicking and trying to fit everything in at the end or just not making them happen at all.
Schedule it in first, and the rest will fall into place around it.
PRIORITIZE YOUR TO-DO LIST
My next strategy is prioritizing your to-do list. To-do lists aren’t always great because they can make us feel overwhelmed, but when it comes to the holidays, there are so many things we need to remember. So create that list of all the things that need to happen, and then prioritizing them. Put them in order from number one all the way down.
So number one is the most important thing, and then work through these based on what matters to you most versus approaching your list in some random order where you’re really sad that you didn’t get to that thing that actually was really important. It’s an easy way to let the lesser things drop off if you need to and make sure you get to what’s most important.
LOOK FOR POTENTIAL OVERWHELM
There are certain things that are potentially going to be overwhelming this season. What are those things for you? It’s funny because the two things that I think of is my workload and Christmas cards. With the Christmas cards, I’ve really looked at how to simplify that process. Everything from designing the card, to how many I send, to having the addresses ahead of time ready, to having them just get sent automatically so I can avoid the post office all together.
For my work, I think about what I can do early to prepare? The holidays shouldn’t sneak up on us. We know they are coming every year. So plan for them and plan for that potential overwhelm. I now plan to take December almost entirely off. Now I won’t take it completely off because there are some things that I’m going to have to do, but just having that mindset helps me get ahead. I’m getting ahead before the craziness starts and it’s going to give me so much more peace during the holiday season.
If you want to have a meaningful season that you actually enjoy, you cannot overcommit yourself.
It’s the simple truth. We understand that and yet it can be a really, really hard one to actually execute. So we have to tell ourselves ahead of time where the boundaries are, where the line is, where we say, “Oh, okay, that’s gonna be too much.” It’s easy to get caught up in saying yes, so go back to mindset, intention, and scheduling in your magic first which will really, really help you in not overcommitting this season.
SIMPLIFY WHERE YOU CAN
I’ve learned that simplifying things, like how I do gifts, is life changing. Online shopping makes things about a million times easier and shifting to family style gifts instead of individual gifts for extended family has eased up so much brain power trying to think of what to buy everyone.
With simplifying, think about your needle movers. You hear me say this all the time, but it doesn’t have to be a huge thing to make a huge difference.
GO WITH WHAT YOU KNOW
Now is not the time to switch things up or try new things. You might see something on Pinterest or social media like a new craft or a recipe and want to try it out for the holiday. Ask yourself, “am I trying something that’s way too complex?” It’s okay to try new things, but evaluate what you are getting out of it. Is it adding to your joy or adding to your stress.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO DELEGATE
Don’t be afraid to let people help you, especially during our busy seasons of life and the holidays naturally fall into one of those seasons. This is the time for family.
It is the time to focus on gratitude, on happiness, on joy, on connection, making memories, sitting in the moment and savoring it, and loving the opportunity to just be together with people that you love. And if we are so set on getting everything done and rushing to the next thing, we miss it.
I’ve missed it and it makes me so sad to look back at these years and just wish I could go back and savor more, but I can’t. But I can do better now. I can do better this year, and I’ve been working to do better for the past several years, and it really does make all the difference.
As we go into this season, I hope that this has really given you some ideas, some strategies, and just the right frame of mind so that you can stay sane and present.
I hope that you have the most incredible holiday feeling the joy and the love that you give to others while also receiving it. I hope that this helps you to do that. If you have enjoyed this episode, please share it with your sister, with your mom, with your friends.
Share it with someone else who you know struggles trying to navigate the holiday season. And as always, I’d love if you’d leave a five star review. That helps me so much by allowing people to find this podcast so that they can balance their own busy. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, being part of it, and I will see you next week.
Before you go:
[00:00:00] Leah: Welcome to The Balancing Busy Podcast. I am your host, Leah Rele, and this podcast is dedicated to helping all of us do less but better. And the reason behind this is not because we wanna be lazy or because we want some easy button. It’s. Entirely the opposite. It’s because there is so much that we want to do, so many roles that we play, that we need to be able to do it in a way where it feels good, where we can be the best version of ourselves.
[00:00:42] And we’re coming into the holidays. And the holidays, they can bring out a lot of emotions and I completely understand that the holidays mean something different for all of us. Some of us it. Just filled with what feels like chaos and overwhelm and frazzled, and you’re just trying to get from thing to thing to thing.
[00:01:04] For others, it’s a time of sadness, of heartbreak, of missing the people who matter. Today, I wanna take an opportunity and devote this episode to helping share some of my. Time saving, keep you sane. Holiday hacks. I have hosted a lot of holidays. I have gone through the holidays where they felt like a blur and I’ve gone through them where I really enjoyed them and I wanna just share and talk about what I think I did right, what I think I did wrong, and how we can step into this holiday season that we’re embracing.
[00:01:44] Right. how we can just enjoy it more. How we can have more contentment, more peace, more fun, more laughter, more memories, all the good stuff, and less of feeling frazzled and frantic and stressed. Okay, Let’s go ahead and. The very first place that I really wanna start is with our mindset, and I truly believe that this has to be where we start because it is the difference between great and blah.
[00:02:24] It comes down to this, and this was the big lesson for me personally, that I had to learn. , was I going to go through the holidays, feeling like I was rushing through it all? Even the really, really sweet moments that I actually wanted to remember that I wanted to savor, but for some reason I just constantly felt like I was just this tiny bit behind, sometimes a lot behind, but this, this, Oh, I’ve gotta get to the next thing.
[00:02:55] I’ve gotta get to the next thing. And in all of that, . It all went by in a blur and I was tired through all of it, so I wanted to make a switch and really start thinking about savoring the season, savoring each moment. Even this morning, I got a text from one of my girls asking if I could come downstairs and chat.
[00:03:24] And so I finished up something. I went down to her room. It was obvious she was upset and I scooped her into my arms and I held her as she shared why, Why she was upset. And there was this second where my brain went, Oh, you’re running late now. You’re gonna be. and then I stopped myself and I was like, No, this is exactly where I am supposed to be right now.
[00:03:52] There will be time for everything else. This is the moment that I wanna be in fully and presently, and I wanna share that because I’m still working on this. I still have those thoughts that come through my mind. I’m just getting better and better at recognizing them. Realizing what they are, that they’re the potential for distraction if I’m not careful.
[00:04:20] And when it comes to the holidays and all the different things that we feel like we need to be getting done, all those giant to-do lists that we make, we can rush through the entire season and miss the joy of it if we don’t intentionally set out to savor. This season. So that is absolutely where I wanna start this conversation with you because I just wanna encourage you and encourage me, Let’s savor this season.
[00:04:52] Let’s really enjoy it. Let’s believe that there’s gonna be enough time for everything that we need to do. And if there’s not, then well, it’s gonna be okay. And. The people that matter most. Okay? Now I wanna go in and I wanna give some of these very tangible hacks, but all of these tangible hacks, I just don’t know that they’re going to have the right effect if we don’t set our intention at the very beginning and commit to making time to just love to be there, to be present, to have fun, to laugh, all the good things.
[00:05:35] So my very first hack for you is to schedule in the magic first. I learned this the hard way over a decade ago in my first and second year of business because I was super busy, which was such a blessing. I mean, it was making the difference for the kind of holiday we were gonna be able to have because of the income that was coming in.
[00:06:03] But I hadn’t learned boundaries. I wasn’t good at saying no or even really having a plan in place of where I wanted things to fit in. So I was really letting other people create my calendar. My schedule dictate when I would be available based on when they wanted me available. And I said yes to all of these things.
[00:06:22] And then, night after night thing after thing showed up. That was an opportunity to do something as a family, and I wasn’t available, and it was very discouraging. I felt really guilty, really sad. I felt resentful. It was really hard, and I looked at that situation and I asked myself, Okay, how am I gonna make sure that this does not happen?
[00:06:48] And the obvious solution, it hadn’t been obvious before that, but it became obvious was, Well, I should be scheduling in the magic first. I should be scheduling in those family traditions, those special moments that we really want to do before I let other things get scheduled in I, I’m in a caveat and I’m gonna say that some of those.
[00:07:10] Absolutely get moved around because they don’t have to be on that date. But this way, I don’t forget them. So what this looks like in our family might be that we’re, we say, Okay, what do we all wanna do? And one of the things that we love to do is we. Sit down and we make a holiday bucket list, everybody gets to say the things that are most important to them to do.
[00:07:32] So someone might say, going and looking at all the Christmas lights, someone else might say, We have to watch this Christmas movie. Someone else might say, I really wanna go do this experience. We each share and make a list of what matters most. And I actually really wanna add in another caveat. I feel like I’m just gonna be filled with caveats here, but.
[00:07:56] I have found so much more magic and meaning in the seasons when I make sure that we schedule in service, that we schedule in opportunities to love others, and that’s looked like everything from us caroling at a retirement home to baking and delivering cookies to doing. If you’ve never seen the movie, The Christmas project.
[00:08:28] It’s really sweet. It’s a really cute family movie. Watch it at the very beginning of the season. Together as a family, you’ll get inspired to want to nominate a family that you can deliver surprises and treats throughout. 12 days throughout whatever timeframe. This has been something that’s been really special to us for several years, and the kids were on board, they were excited it, they took ownership because of this movie.
[00:08:58] So just adding in the meaningful, the things that bring you back to the reason for the season. Finding what those are and really making sure you make time for those. That would be part of what I’m talking about, where we’re scheduling in these meaningful, magical family traditions. Special moments, first.
[00:09:20] So we get an idea of, okay, here are the things that we wanna do. We pencil them in, and I’m saying pencil because they might get moved, but we’re penciling in. We’re getting a plan in place, and then I’m going to start putting the obligatory things. And that way I can honestly say, Oh my gosh, we would love to, but we already had another obligation.
[00:09:42] I can create boundaries. The experience that we want as a family as opposed to letting the feeling of obligation take over our holiday season. So scheduling in those special moments, getting those on the calendar. We always host an ugly sweater, Christmas party, so you know, we make sure we get that on the calendar early.
[00:10:10] We check in with the kids. We’re always trying to get them to host parties at our house. So, You know, trying to convince them, figure out when that’s gonna get in there, and then we start putting in the other things that that need to happen. My next strategy is prioritizing your to-do list. To-do lists aren’t always great because they can make us feel overwhelmed, but when it comes to the holidays, there’s so many things we need to remember.
[00:10:38] We need to manage it all. So creating that list of like, here’s all the things that need to happen, and then prioritizing them, put them in order one all the way down. So number one is the most important thing, and that way you can be working through these based on what matters to you most versus. In some random order where you’re really sad that you didn’t get to that thing that actually was really important.
[00:11:04] So these are gonna be anything from your Christmas tree, Christmas cards, baking treats, going, carrying, and you’re looking at all of these different things and you’re asking yourself, and you can even do a family council and ask as a family, which ones are the most important to us, And look for places. Is there a simpler way to do this that will still be meaningful?
[00:11:28] Maybe you have always cut the Christmas tree, but no one really actually likes doing it. They’re cold and it’s a lot of driving and they’re completely okay with a fake tree or with going to a lot and grabbing. , maybe it’s okay to replace that. Make it a little simpler for yourself. Or maybe everybody loves that one.
[00:11:52] But the Christmas cards, that is a hassle and it brings a lot of overwhelm, and so you just give yourself permission to say, I am going to be sending. New Year’s cards or Valentine’s Day cards or something totally random. And those are really fun to get because you don’t expect them. Everybody has a little bit more time to actually read the card to savor it, and it’s just a little more special because it’s not in the sea of cards.
[00:12:17] It’s now a. A solo exciting little piece of snail mail. So maybe that’s the thing that you’re like, Is there a simpler way to do this? Do I have to do this? Maybe baking treats has always been your thing and you bake a dozen different things, and you could ask yourself, Do I have to do it this way? Is there an easier way to do this?
[00:12:39] Maybe. Do something where it’s a mix. I mean, that’s a lot easier just pouring things into a jar and presenting that, or it’s just about looking at each of these things that are your priorities and then affirming or questioning why you do it the way you do, and is it time for a change or is this really meaningful and somewhere else could change.
[00:13:03] We’re just trying to look at this list and instead of getting overwhelmed by it, Asking ourselves if we want to change it, if we want to modify it, we’re allowed to do that. I don’t know why that’s hard for me to recognize sometimes, but I literally sometimes need permission to realize I don’t have to do it this way.
[00:13:23] And so I’m trying to give that to you right now. If you’ve ever felt like that too. . The next thing that I wanna talk about is looking for what is potentially going to overwhelm. There are certain things that are potentially going to be overwhelming. Things are gonna pile up for me. Those things. It’s funny cuz the two things that I kind of think of is my workload and Christmas cards.
[00:13:48] Those are probably the two things that have a tendency to just pile up. They get, they get a little tricky. , especially during this season, of course. Right. So with the Christmas cards, I’ve really looked at how to simplify that process. Making from everything from designing the card, how many I send. Having the addresses ahead of time ready.
[00:14:11] They print on right on the envelope so I don’t have to hand write ’em. Buying a stamp super early, different things like that that I can do to really make it simpler for myself. And then with the my work, I know that this is coming, We all know the holidays are coming, so what can we do early to prepare?
[00:14:32] So, . It doesn’t sneak up on us, cuz really it shouldn’t sneak up on us. Even though I’ve had that happen plenty of years in the past. I now plan. To take December almost entirely off. Now I won’t take it completely off cuz there are some things that I’m gonna have to do, but just having that mindset, knowing that I’m planning, I’m batching.
[00:14:54] This episode that you’re hearing is going to be recorded quite a bit earlier. I’m going to do the work to have a lot of this stuff prepped and ready and done so that. The month of December comes, I am even more available. So just let’s look at what are the things that cause the angst, that cause the frustration and the friction, and what can we do to simplify, to put a pin in it for a minute.
[00:15:23] I always love saying that to my clients. Like, Can we pin it for a minute? We’ll come back to this, but maybe this doesn’t have to be tackled right now. And then of. There’s so much of this that is about not overcommitting ourselves. If you want to have a meaningful season that you actually enjoy, you cannot overcommit yourself.
[00:15:48] It’s just the truth. We understand that. And yet it can be a really, really hard one to actually execute. So we have to ahead of time kind of tell ourself where the boundaries are gonna be, where the line is, where we say, Oh, okay, that’s gonna be too much. And then there’s just those simpler things. I do 90% of my shopping online because it’s just easier.
[00:16:17] It’s faster. I, if I see it, I don’t hesitate. I don’t say, Oh, I’ll get it later because. That has just backfired way too many times. I just buy it right then. I know that I can return everything. Yes, it’s a hassle for me to run down to my UPS store and drop ’em all off, but I just collect a few. I keep letting ’em pile up in the trunk and then I’ll bring ’em all.
[00:16:38] And again, that’s just a simple way to save time. I’m not gonna do it item by item. I’m gonna collect them over a week or two, and then I’ll send ’em all back at once. But just looking. These very, very simple, obvious things that we know, but we sometimes just don’t give ourselves permission to do. So I’m in a shop online.
[00:16:58] I am going to. See something and just buy it. I am going to try to do a lot of things early and have those just ready and waiting and stashed again, all these things to just make my life a little easier. I have special little extra gifts in case I forget someone in case. I run into, we’re invited somewhere and I wanna have a little gift to give.
[00:17:22] Those are just gonna be pre-read in the closet in my office and I can grab something if I need it. All of these things just to bring down the stress level and bring up the joy level. Another final thing, and this is some holiday hacks that have really, really helped me in the past several years, is when it comes to the gift buying, when it comes to.
[00:17:48] All of the different presents. Some shifts I’ve made that have really helped is purchasing family gifts instead. Individual gifts for kids. I’ve really started doing this for my nieces and nephews. We have a ton of ’em. It was a lot of time trying to figure out what each one would like and I wouldn’t quite be sure, and going back and forth.
[00:18:07] And now it’s been actually really fun to come up with something that would be really fun for the entire family. So one year we. Laser tag. So we bought tons of laser tag sets so the whole family plus friends would be able to play laser tag. Another year. We bought another type of big gaming type system for their whole families.
[00:18:30] I can’t tell you what we’re doing this year just in case they’re listening, but I’ve been really making this ship to family gifts versus individual. That is a simple way that just makes everything easier. One of the things that I say all the. , and I’m gonna say that it applies here too, is needle movers.
[00:18:48] Instead of looking for that one thing that is just gonna make the holiday simple, there isn’t going to necessarily be one thing. But if we take a bunch of little things and we just start stacking them on top of each other, All of a sudden things have gotten much, much smoother and there is a lot more time for ho, ho hoing instead of ha ha, right?
[00:19:08] Like that, that sense of frazzled. And these are some of those things. These family Christmas gifts make my life easier. Shopping online makes my life easier. Doing the same adult gift for everyone. So you know, everyone on Taylor’s side of the family, I come up with something really special and meaningful that I can give to everyone, and they’re all gonna get the same.
[00:19:28] I’m gonna do the same thing on my side of the family. I’m gonna do the same thing for friends. So that, again, simplifies my life. And then the. Final thing is go with what you know. So this is maybe not the right time to be trying something super complicated and new. This is the time to go with what you know.
[00:19:58] I have made the mistake many of times of deciding that I am going to try some very intricate. Craft or DIY or thing that I am going to cook. And guess what? I’m completely new to it. It’s brand new to me, and so therefore I am not a natural. It does not come out perfectly. And then I’m really, really sad because I wanted to give this amazing, homemade gift that was gonna be special, but it was way advanced for me.
[00:20:26] It was outside of my pay grade and it did not turn out well. I remember many years of us doing this one year, Taylor, and I tried. Christmas pajamas for everyone. This was when we were really young, married. We didn’t have much money. I don’t know how to sew at all. Taylor is better at sewing because he has a mom who is an amazing seamstress and would have her kids help when they were little, but that was not the right project for us because that was not in.
[00:21:00] our strengths, not even a little bit so, Ask yourself, am I trying something that’s way too complex? That’s probably gonna add stress instead of simplify my life and how could I switch and change this? And then of course, don’t be afraid to delegate. Don’t be afraid to get your family to help. One very silly way that I’ve gotten to do this, and I know this isn’t gonna happen for everyone, and it depends on the age of your kids and all that, but a few years ago I taught my kids how to wrap presents and I was just, Really great mom moments where I was like showing ’em, and I was making it really fun.
[00:21:38] I was teaching ’em how I learned when I worked at this really fancy chocolate shop when I was a teenager and creasing the lines and how I make it look all store perfect. And they got really into it. And two of them love wrapping presents. I am, I know this is not normal, but they love wrapping presents and so I let them.
[00:21:59] Everything. Now, I wanna say though, if wrapping presents brings you joy, then that’s not the thing that you’re going to delegate. Maybe you are like, Oh, Leah, I have this ritual where I turn on my Christmas movie. I’ve got all the presents out, I’m drinking hot cocoa, and I wrap presents. That sounds so beautiful for you.
[00:22:16] And I always had this vision that that started amazing. But then when I sat down to do it, I was like, Ugh, I do not like wrapping all of these. So I let my kids do it. They have that magical experience. I can focus on other things. So really looking at what you can delegate, is that getting the groceries delivered, delivered?
[00:22:38] Is that letting someone else wrap presents? Is that letting a, a cute little neighbor, uh, girl or boy come over to help with some things? , Don’t be afraid to let people help you, especially during our busy seasons of life and the holidays naturally fall into one of those seasons. This is. The time for family.
[00:23:06] It is the time to focus on gratitude, on happiness, on joy, on connection, making memories, sitting in the moment and savoring it, and loving the opportunity to just be together with people that you love. And if we are so set on getting everything done and rushing to the next thing we miss. I’ve missed it and it makes me so sad to think and to just look back at these years that I just wish I could go back and savor more and I can’t.
[00:23:47] But I can do better now. I can do better this year, and I’ve been working to do better for the past several years, and it really does make all the difference. As we go into this season, I hope that this conversation that you and I are having has really given you some ideas, some strategies, and just the right frame of mind so that you can stay sane.
[00:24:19] Have some time saving systems in place to help you just open yourself up and then most of all, to just catch yourself. You can even put in a little alarm, silent alarm on your phone that comes up periodically throughout the day that just says, Am I savoring this season? I love doing things like that to just help me to bring me back to presence.
[00:24:45] I hope that you have the most incredible holiday. I hope that you feel the joy and the love that you get to give that to others and that you also receive it, and I hope that this helps you to do that. If you have enjoyed this episode, please share it with your sister, with your mom, with your friends.
[00:25:06] Share it with someone else who you know struggles trying to navigate the holiday season. And as always, I’d love if you’d leave a five star review. That helps me so much by helping people to find this podcast so that they can balance their own busy. Thank you so much for listening to this episode, being part of it, and I will see you next week.Hide Transcript