3 Steps To Avoid Holiday Meltdown - Amber Hurdle | Globally Recognized Leadership & Personal Branding Expert

3 Steps To Avoid Holiday Meltdown

December 01, 2015


Let’s face it, Just as quickly as we grab the Elf on the Shelf out of the attic and start simultaneously quoting Buddy the Elf, panic sets in.

How are you going to keep up with your already hectic lives and then layer the whirlwind of the holidays on top of it all?

Glad you asked.

You’re going to pour a glass of wine, plop on the couch with your laptop or iPad and go through the following steps to ensure a low-stress holiday season.

OK…maybe this will take a couple glasses of wine.

And some chocolate.

Alright, are you all settled now? Here’s your list:

Step 1: Brainstorm EVERYTHING!

You need to conduct a brain dump first, whether that is making multiple lists, creating a mind map or simply writing everything down until you can’t think of a single thing you could have left out. Grab last year’s calendar, all local calendars and your current calendar to reference, and then think about what pumpkin-spiced chaos you’re about to storm into. Consider the following questions:

What holiday events are in your future?

  • What do you anticipate attending or being invited to?
  • What events, cookie swaps or family meals are you hosting?
  • What events are you sponsoring, either financially or via edibles and elixirs? (Yes, class and office potluck parties fall into this category.)

What holiday travel needs to be considered?

  • Do you need to book flights? Rental cars? Other transportation?
  • Will you stay in a hotel, a family member’s house or rent a vacation home?
  • Have you made reservations for pet care? (Don’t forget to check that shot records are up to date!)
  • While you are traveling, will you eat out, have any special, more expensive meals or buy or to contribute to groceries?

For whom will you purchase gifts?

  • Family?
  • Teachers, coaches, etc…?
  • Colleagues, bosses, employees?
  • Host(ess) gifts?
  • Social groups, organizations, white elephant or dirty Santa parties?
  • Service providers (nail tech, housekeeper, hair dresser, etc…)?
  • This is a good time to drag out the Christmas card address list, too!

Step 2: Get Organized!

It’s not enough to brainstorm. You have to come up with a plan. After all, every minute spent planning saves nine minutes in execution.

Did you just find 9 extra minutes today? You’re welcome.

Calendar every event you brainstormed:

  • All events.
  • All travel.
  • All school holidays and abbreviated days.
  • All shared parenting plan dates.
  • When to drop off and pick up animals from the vet or kennel.

Budget all expenses you brainstormed:

  • Estimate the cost of upcoming events. (Don’t forget special clothes that may be purchased…and certainly don’t forget you may need to pick up a new pair of Spanx!)
  • Make a list of all potential gifts.
  • Create a budget for each gift, then evaluate if the total budget is reasonable. If not, either prioritize WHO gets gifts or HOW MUCH you will spend on each recipient.
  • The cards…don’t forget the cards…or the stamps!


Yes, you now officially have more reasons to participate in the ultimate time suck! First, you can use Pinterest to stalk your family and friend’s boards to get ideas for gifts. You can also get ideas for recipes, decor and more. And now you can even create unlimited secret boards to save those gift ideas without publicly pinning them, not to mention make secret notes that you can reference right on your smartphone while shopping.

Tip: Use a shareable online tool like Google Drive/Google Sheets, Evernote or Wunderlist to keep up with budgets, shopping lists and inspiration in real time with other interested parties.

Step 3: Work the Plan

It’s important for your mental health (and the mental health of everyone around you) if you stick to your routine as much as possible and add holiday fun as it reasonably fits.

Forced fun is not fun at all, and straying too far away from your financial, sleep, nutrition and exercise routines does not make for a very “happy” new year!

On that note, please raise your right hand and repeat after me:

     *I will not overspend in the name of impulse because my child truly has no dire need for a limited edition pink Yeti Cooler. (Oh wait–is that just my child?)

     *I will not have a meltdown when my centerpiece does not turn out Pinterest perfect.

     *I will love myself even if I miss my pilates class and conveniently forget to bring my protein bar to the third cookie swap I’ve attended this month.

     *I will graciously smile at my sister-in-law when she asks my son at the Christmas dinner table if mommy forgot to iron his shirt today.

     *I will not turn into a deranged woman an hour before guests arrive (spitting green venom at my family as my head spins a full 360) if I still don’t have the table set       or the carpet vacuumed.

    *I will be thankful for the opportunity to celebrate all that the year has gifted us and all that the year to come promises with my friends and family.

    *I will take care of myself first before I attempt to be savior to the holiday world.

Now I’m not sure if this is where we say, “Amen,” or if we spit on our respective hands and shake (I’d personally prefer to skip the later), but I’ll leave you with this thought: Don’t forget the “holidays” are meant to revere tradition and often times honor deeply held beliefs about our faith.

So perhaps bonus Step #4 is to always circle back to the “why” and simply enjoy the season, your family and let go of everything else. And when you start to feel the panic set in again…just pour another glass of wine…

Need a little more help? Download the editable worksheet I made for you by CLICKING HERE. Let me know how it goes for you in the comments. 😉


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