philosophy: a few tips to ensure more cheer this year

by: Alitza Wellstead

‘tis the season of gatherings, gifts and high expectations. so many wishes and so little time. this year, why not fill your wish list with less stress and more joy? planning ahead is one of the best things you can do for yourself. (ok, you can do these any time, but the holidays are really the time you’ll be glad you did.)

  • give from the heart
    giving a gift is a very personal and powerful way to express yourself and how you feel about someone. a gift isn’t about the money you’ve spent; it’s about opening your heart, sharing a piece of yourself and trying to make a connection with someone else. give from your heart—free from expectation—and you’ll always receive more than you bargained for.
  • put it in black and white (maybe color coded!)
    add activities to a calendar when parties and events are scheduled. and remember it’s okay to say no sometimes and take some time for yourself to refresh and recharge. just be kind and rsvp.
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  • 3 to 6 months ahead
    make a plan

    are you hosting or being hosted? gather your family around and decide how you want to celebrate the most wonderful time of year. if you need to buy plane tickets, purchase as soon as possible. if you’re hosting, do you need to replace some sheets and towels? now’s the time to get your place in shape for your out-of-town guests.
  • 2 months ahead
    get organized

    update your holiday card list. start baking things you can freeze. shop for cards and wrapping paper. do these little things early (up to 2 months ahead), and you’ll set the tone for a fun, festive holiday.
  • 6 weeks to one month ahead
    make a master gift list
    remember, it’s not about price. think, how can i best express my feelings for this person? maybe it’s a coupon for babysitting on a night out or spending a whole girl’s day out together. order gifts online so you have lots of time to wrap them before they arrive. wrap as you go—you’ll save a lot of time.
  • put it in writing
    depending on how long your list is, start addressing your holiday cards. make sure you’ve stocked up on stamps.
  • finalize your menus/choose your hostess gift
    if you’re serving the holiday meal, it’s important to know what you’re cooking and what family members are bringing. start your master grocery list for the meal, side dishes, snacks and tasty tidbits. if you’re being hosted, make sure you’ve got a hostess gift at the ready. some lovely (and easy) gift ideas to ensure you’ll be invited back again are fresh-cut flowers, beautiful soaps and, of course, wine!
  • decorate
    pour yourself a hot toddy, turn up the holiday tunes and let your spirit soar.
  • one week before
    deep-clean your house. and while you’re at it, you can multi-task by doing your favorite cleanse, peel, treat regimen. it will help you look—and feel—good.
  • shop for fresh ingredients and healthy snacks.
  • buy fresh flowers.
  • finish last-minute wrapping.
  • and finally, sit back, relax, enjoy your holiday and gather round with your friends, family and loved ones.
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