Holiday Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows

Christmas is less than a month away and the residents of Jefferson County are gearing up for the festivities in full force. Even though as many as 90% of Americans celebrate Christmas according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, not everyone sails through the festive season without being tormented by near-debilitating bouts of anxiety and stress. Here are a few basic guidelines to help you overcome any seasonal obstacles and enjoy Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s Eve. The way they were intended to be enjoyed: stress-free and in close proximity to your loved ones.

Take the time to enjoy the festivities

In between all the holiday preparations, it is very possible that you might start feeling overwhelmed by the mere sight of your to-do list. Take a breather and remind yourself that you still have enough time to get everything done. Then set aside a day or two to just relax and enjoy all the festivities happening around you. If you and your family enjoy the theater, consider attending Elf: The Musical that is running at The Fireside Dinner Theatre in Fort Atkinson until December 23rd or, alternatively, attend one of the many tree lighting ceremonies or street parades that are scheduled to take place all over the county. Once Christmas has come and gone you can return to The Fireside for a celebration of country music in the Legends of Country spectacular which runs from New Year’s Eve until February 17th.

Get your shopping done early

Shopping for everything from decorations and gifts to food and other festive knick knacks can be equally enjoyable and frustrating. Ideally, you should try to get all your holiday shopping done by no later than mid-December. You can leave your perishables until last, but also no later than the 22nd as the last thing you want to do is contend with thousands of other last-minute shoppers in search of the perfect bunch of carrots or tub of cream cheese. If you are fortunate enough to be living in Cambridge, you can take advantage of the extended shopping hours that will provide you with a bit of extra time to get everything done.

Get enough rest

It is very hard to fully enjoy the festivities around you if you haven’t had a good night’s rest in weeks. The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night for adults and even more for children. If you don’t sleep enough, you are not only going to be moody and exhausted, but more prone to procrastination than ever before. If you find that you can’t go to bed early at night, aim to have a power nap during the day to replenish your energy levels. It will give you the strength to face your responsibilities with a smile on your face.

Spend quality time with your family

The end-of-the-year holidays are undoubtedly a time to spend with your loved ones, but so is every other day of the year. One way to spend quality time with those near and dear to you is to indulge in the countless holiday movies that are being aired on TV. If you took advantage of the many superb Black Friday specials in the county, you may have acquired a brand new television set in front of which you and your family can huddle, sipping on homemade hot chocolate and munching on buttery popcorn. Chances are you wouldn’t even have to change the channel as Hallmark is once again screening a plethora of holiday movies that are bound to put even the biggest Grinch in your family in a festive mood.

Remember that you don’t have to please everyone

As much as you want to be the perfect host this festive season it is important to not have unrealistic expectations. Life has a funny way of throwing us curveballs when we least expect (and need) them. It is impossible to please everyone, regardless of how hard you try. In the end, you will only end up wearing yourself out to the point where the festive season becomes a burden instead of a pleasure. Draw up a holiday itinerary and stick to it. If people are unhappy with your decisions they either need to adapt or make their own alternative arrangements.

The festive season can leave you feeling positively drained if you do not take the necessary steps to ensure that it is as stress-free as possible. Thankfully the guidelines above coupled with your own inherent vivacity will help you sail through the season unscathed.

Jane is a freelance writer contributing to Enjoy Jefferson County.