Knowing yourself helps to better enjoy holidays


POSTED: Monday, November 09, 2009

Here it comes, ready or not! The holiday season will soon be upon us, and it's meant to be a special time of year. After all, the word “;holidays”; comes from “;holy days.”;

A special holiday season doesn't just happen. Here are some tips to help make the holidays simpler, more enjoyable and more meaningful.

1. How was last year's holiday season for you? Was it a relaxed, enjoyable time, or was it full of last-minute stress and strain? It's good to evaluate how it went and see what you can do differently this year.

2. Which holiday activities are most important to you? Is it getting together with friends? Exchanging gifts? Decorating the tree and house? Baking? Entertaining? Sending cards? Volunteering? Attending Hanukkah or Christmas services? Probably 80 percent of your enjoyment came from 20 percent of the activities.

3. Is there any holiday activity or tradition you want to start? Have you always wanted to have a holiday open house? Go caroling? See the Honolulu City Lights? Do a Christmas jigsaw puzzle? Make a gingerbread house? A friend has a tradition of having family members make gingerbread houses using leftover Halloween candy for decoration. Whatever you've always wanted to do, let this be the year you actually do it!

4. Which parts of the holiday do you dread? Is it the crowds? Shopping for gifts? Last-minute rushing? Traffic jams? January bills? Figure out ways to avoid those.

5. Do you have unrealistic expectations? Realize that holiday depictions in magazines and TV shows are not the real world and that you can't do it all unless you're Martha Stewart or have a huge staff. Even if you could do it all, why would you want to?

6. Are gifts your main focus? One study showed that most people spend more time and emotional energy on gift giving than anything else, yet this is consistently rated the least valued aspect of the celebration.

7. Do you need to downsize your gift list? Gift buying might be a hardship, especially in this economy. You can mutually agree to forgo gifts. Or consider getting together for lunch or dinner with friends instead. Spending time with each other might be the best gift of all!

8. Do you remember the less fortunate? In lieu of exchanging gifts and giving just to give something, consider exchanging names of favorite charities. My in-laws and I have been doing this for years, and it's a good feeling to know that many needy are being blessed.

9. Is it important to you to send holiday cards? If it is, update your card list now. Buy stamps ahead of time. If you send photo cards, select or take the photo soon and get your order in early. You can even address the envelopes and have the cards ready to mail.

10. Do you open your home to guests? I think it's good to think of others, especially those who don't have family nearby. One of my most memorable Christmas dinners was when I invited two strangers—foreign students from China whom I had met at Haleakala Crater on Maui. It was the first time one of them had ever tasted roast turkey, stuffing and Jell-O!

11. Do you like to volunteer? Many organizations could use your help. Can you help serve a meal? Donate to Toys for Tots, Lokahi Tree or Angel Tree (which gives gifts to children of prisoners)?

A special holiday season doesn't just happen. By eliminating the unnecessary and focusing on the meaningful, you can make this upcoming season what you want it to be.

I encourage you to start now. Pace yourself. Make a plan and schedule, and do a little each week. By doing so, you can turn the “;holi-daze”; into enjoyable holidays and create precious memories that will last past December!

See you in two weeks!

”;It's About Time,”; by professional organizer Ruth Wong, owner of Organization Plus, runs on the second and fourth Mondays of each month.