Take a break already!

In her heyday, my grandma was a caterer and quite accustomed to preparing massive quantities of food.   That's why Christmastime meant cookies.  Dozens of dozens of cookies.  As late as her 80s, my grandma would make about 1,000 cookies every December.  Pecan sandies.  Sugar Cookies with a 1/4 cut maraschino cherry on top (red and green).  Chocolate chip, of course.  Date balls.  Biscotti.

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They were meticulously stored in various large cookie tins, with precisely-cut waxed paper protecting each delicious layer from harm.  Scrap paper taped to the top of the tin indicated the type and quantity.  

What to do with all these cookies?  Gram would give them to any visitors, the mailman, the store clerks, and so on.  That said, when we arrived on the 23rd, there were still hundreds of cookies to be pilfered when nobody was looking!  My sister and I always hit the jackpot.  Who needed Santa with all those cookies?

I really hope you're not planning to make 1,000 cookies for the holidays this year.  Juggling the shopping, baking, planning for parties or visitors, the random storm and travel hiccups, your business, and your friend and family commitments can be pretty crazy.  

But when it comes down to it, the holidays aren't about all the "stuff", they're about spending time together with family and friends.  Give yourself a break.  

In my opinion, keeping it simple, and focusing on what's most important, makes for the most enjoyable memories.  For the actual holiday (which was yesterday), as well as the entire holiday break.  If you're like me, you've got visits or meals planned with all sorts of relatives and friends, some of whom you only see once a year...

Give yourself permission to scale back in some areas, so you can have more fun with your visitors!

  • Focus on quality, not quantity.  Only have time to bake 4 dozen cookies, not 8 dozen?  It's OK to scale back.  People want to see you, not your cookies.  
  • Focus on keepers, not kitsch.  Nobody needs another Christmas mug (with packet of hot chocolate) that clutters up a basement and only comes out to play once a year.  Get some upscale hot chocolate, some pretty marshmallows, skip the mug.  Write a nice note and wrap the gift in pretty paper.  Other options (this works for my health coach friends!) include flavored oils or vinegars (or wine too!).  They can be used and enjoyed without taking up precious real estate in storage after the holidays.
  • Get help.  Enlist the kids, spouse, a girlfriend, to help wrap presents, brainstorm ideas, clean up for guests, etc.
  • Hire help.  Get a housekeeper for a day.  Find a place that does prepared meals or baked goods and use that for a mid-week dinner or a cookie swap (in that order).  Again, people just want to see you.
  • Check out so you can check in when it counts.  Cut the electronic leash for a day or two.  You'll get a fresh perspective on your work when you come back.

I'm taking the last one to heart - I'm NOT bringing my laptop on our vacation that starts tonight...  After 4 days of friends & family, I will have more than enough to keep me busy!

A very happy holiday and new year to you and your family!