Getting Through the Holidays like a Pro

  • Published on:
    November 19, 2018
  • Reading time by:
    5 minutes

It’s barely been a week since the Halloween decorations came down and suddenly, every store I go into looks like Santa’s workshop exploded all over aisle 12. Most of us may be stressed about Christmas, but our poor sisters in the US still have Thanksgiving to get through, first. So let’s spare a thought for them and let’s all take a deep breath and help each other get through these last 50 or so days of the year.

Holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving are known to cause a significantly higher amount of stress, especially amongst women. There’s all the preparation that forms part of getting your space ready for a bunch of judgmental guests. Then, as if  that isn’t enough, you have the added stress of creating the perfect meals and being the perfect guest and buying the perfect, most thoughtful gifts and smiling through mind-numbing conversations with relatives and people you ordinarily wouldn’t want to spend two minutes within a queue at the grocery store. 

Just writing this has already got my heart rate elevated and my blood pressure climbing to dangerously high levels. 

Don’t let the craziness get you, girl! Just stop for a minute and consider these practical tips on how to get through this holiday season like a pro: 

Plan and Delegate like you need the money, sister

Yes, that’s right! Make it your J-O-B to manage the hell out of these holidays as if you were managing a major event or client. Apply all the skills you’ve learned in business to help keep you sane. Do your research, plan like a pro and delegate tasks or outsource things that you’re not particularly good at. Nobody ever said you have to do it all alone and there is absolutely nothing wrong with assembling a team of people you can trust and rely on, to help you put together a memorable event.

Hit the interwebs and download numerous free planners and make sure to plan everything from the cleaning and invitations, to the menus and the cleanup. Allocate responsibilities to different people, just as you would on a major project at work and make sure everyone is collaborating and communicating throughout the entire process. If you’re not the best at making the cranberry sauce or the sweet potato pie, ask someone who is a guru or just go out and buy the best that you can afford. Rather that than stressing about things you’re not great at and getting frustrated with yourself. 

Just say No, Nancy Reagan

You are probably a little young to remember the infamous anti-drug campaign by former First Lady, Nancy Reagan in the 80’s – don’t worry, you’re not missing out on anything spectacular. The point of this tip, however, is that you cannot be everything to everyone and it’s impossible to be in more than one place at a time.

It’s ok to say ‘no’ to an invitation or to a request to help out with someone else’s party or whatever it is. Plan carefully, get your priorities straight and remember that it’s ok to say no to certain things if it’s going to save your sanity.  You get bonus points for learning the art of saying no without adding a reason or making an excuse for having said no in the first place. 

And the Oscar goes to:

Holiday meals invariably mean spending time with people you don’t much care for and who may really not be major fans of yours either. This is probably the hardest part of the whole holiday season madness and the one place where you’re most likely to fail miserably and let your emotions get the better of you.

A handy little trick you can use when someone starts talking to you or brings up something you don’t like talking about (why you’re still single, when you’re getting married, why you’re not having kids, why you were crazy enough to start your own business in this economic climate..), flip the script. 

Instead of losing your temper and creating a scene at the dinner table, simply flip the script by changing the subject and talking about something they love. Be charming and warm. Distract them and get them talking about their favorite TV show or whatever it is that gets them all bright-eyed. 

It’s just a couple of hours that you need to fake your way through and practice hit Oscar winning performance to rival Meryl Streep’s best work. 

Just give it a skip and Travel instead

Now, I’m not one to ordinarily recommend ‘avoidance’ as a suitable course of action. But I understand that sometimes your sanity is worth a lot more than keeping your entire family happy – especially if you have to do so to your own detriment. So, if the holidays cause you undue amounts of stress and you’d rather lock yourself in your apartment and binge watch Glow while eating Cheetos, it may be better to just skip the whole damn show and take yourself on an awesome trip, instead.

You might want to gather some friends for this one, or else go it alone. Take some of your hard-earned money and go somewhere you’ve never been, for a week. There are some amazing options available, all over the world. You will meet new people, have adventures and make memories to last you a lifetime. 

No matter how you choose to spend your holidays this year, remember that your emotional health and well-being has got to be one of your top priorities. You have this one life and you do not have to live it to please others. Do the research and the planning and choose the option that will work best for you and the woman you are becoming. Happy Holidays! 

Deborah Hartung

She has spent almost 20 years advising corporates on matters relating to employee relations, corporate culture and leadership development. Deborah is passionate about people and technology, the human experience in the workplace and the opportunities for the advancement of humanity in the digital age.  

Especially popular with young or first-time leaders, entrepreneurs and women in leadership, Deborah encourages all those she meets to align with their purpose and to be brave enough to be authentic in all their interactions.  She writes about life, love, leadership, workplace culture, the future of work and the importance of making the world a kinder, more tolerant place. 

Deborah lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and is committed to ensuring that her children – daughter, Reagan and son, Owen – have as many adventures and experiences as possible. Amongst her friends she is known as the woman who always needs at least SPF50 sunscreen and someone who can trip and fall whilst barefoot and stone cold sober. A big fan of tequila, craft beer and MCC, Deborah loves entertaining friends and is secretly a rather big fan of baking. 

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One thought on “Getting Through the Holidays like a Pro

  1. Thank you Deborah for sharing your valuable insights for all of us women leaders. In our everyday hustle to meet the high demand in the corporate world as well as our loved ones, some things need to be reminded and we can only see when we slow down. Your articles gave me sanity and put me right back on track. Will continue to be your avid follower in years to come!

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