As the days approaching the holiday season continue to sprint by at something near warp speed, I can’t help but think about all I’ve got left to wrap up (pun intended?) before sitting down with my family. Whether you’re still shopping, solidifying your dinner menu or dreaming up a plan to entertain the tweens, your cousins and your grandparents, don’t forget to breathe and remember the one thing we all love but hardly ever receive — time.
Be a Better Giver of Time
Even in gift giving, it’s important to stay mindful of the fact that we’re all hoping to make the most of our days. As you add to your cart, know that your present comes with a price tag and a time tag. Try not to gift extra time commitments your recipients may not have otherwise chosen for themselves.
This can take many shapes. Sending gifts for your nieces and nephews? Make sure they’re wrapped before you pack the shipping box, and don’t ship directly from the retailer unless they gift wrap. Mailing a present that needs to be dressed up creates an extra step for your recipient.
Trying to come up with the perfect uplifting gift for your partner? Consider the difference between a puppy and a massage subscription (stay with me, here). While both are fantastic stress relievers, a surprise living, breathing animal clearly comes with time commitments your partner may not have had in mind for 2019. Choose the beer of the month club rather than the homebrew kit, the finished photo album over a scrapbooking set.
Shoot for gifts that can save time for someone else. Homemade food is a great option. I like to give lasagna or cookies because they’re easy to make in bulk. Experience gifts hit the mark, too. My family counts buying dinner for someone else or planning an outing together as a great gift exchange.
Make the Most of Everyone’s Time Together
Beneath the stress and hurry the holidays can often push to the surface, most of us are just hoping to maximize our time with our loved ones in a meaningful way. If you’re hosting, you’ve got a great opportunity to steer your family time toward connected time.
Remember to communicate and be intentional. Give a couple of board games that your family can play together. Your aunt didn’t fly across the country to watch Big Bang Theory re-runs again. Yes, steer the crowd away from an excess of solo screen time, but also check-in and make sure everyone’s recharged and enjoying themselves before you push another group activity.
Save errands and chores for another day or outsource them. Have Filld fill your gas tank or get the last few groceries you forgot delivered via Amazon Fresh. If you can’t get around running out of the door, turn errands into quality time, and make those last-minute trips together. Refrain from any cleaning that’s not vital, and if you’re a guest, consider booking an extra day to help get the house back in order.
If you’re on a tight schedule and aren’t going home to see loved ones in person, try Facetiming family while doing chores or waiting for public transportation. Something as simple as calling your siblings while folding laundry can elevate an otherwise solo, monotonous task into an opportunity for connection.
Master Your Own Time
While we all know “it’s better to give than to receive,” remember to care for yourself this time of year, too. Before you’re stretched too thin, take a moment to outline what your overarching goals are. Prioritize those and seek ways to lighten the remaining tasks or scrap them altogether. If you’re hosting and come across family traditions you’re not truly fond of, don’t do them. If you love baking pies but hate making cranberry sauce, put your heart into the pie, and get canned sauce. Or, if you’re not thrilled about cooking a meal, but love to host, outsource dinner completely — There’s no shame in that!
Whatever you’re doing, it may be helpful to hold this time-and-spirit-saving saying close at hand: “don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Ditch perfection and simply try your best. It will be enough.