Make the most of the holiday season

Are you happy?

Some of these tips may go against your nature. That's okay. Just breathe and practice focusing on being happy yourself—not acting happy, but actually feeling happy on the inside. 

Your emotions affect the people around you. If they see you're unhappy, stressed, or overwhelmed, this can affect their happiness. When you concentrate on what you need to be happy, you help create a more joyful, comfortable atmosphere for those around you.

Remember that it is OK to feel negative emotions too. It's not about what you feel. It's about how you deal with what you feel.

When doubt and fear creep in that you're not fulfilling the holiday expectations for others, it's time to think about your happiness. Being happy yourself is likely more important to your loved ones than a perfect holiday. 

Tip #1:
Adopt healthy habits and keep the ones you have now.

When holiday stress hits, turn to healthier snacks such as fresh fruits and veggies instead of the sugary comfort foods of the season. If you need a bite of chocolate, indulging yourself in an ounce of it is okay, but eating half a bag of candy will do more harm than good.

If you exercise regularly, maintain your routine through the holidays to keep your spirits up. Adding a light exercise routine to your holiday schedule is okay if you don't have one started. Start with something simple, such as 10 minutes on the treadmill or stationary bike. You don't want to expect too much at once and get discouraged, causing added stress.

Tip #2:
Don't expect too much. 

Be realistic and accept imperfection. No holiday is perfect, and planned events very rarely go off without something going wrong. Sometimes "mistakes" create family memories you can joke about later.

Expecting a perfect holiday season will lead to high levels of stress, unhappiness, and disappointment. You'll set high demands, be overly busy, and will enjoy the process very little. 

If you have an endless to-do list, you may be what some call a holiday perfectionist. You may be handmaking Christmas gifts and not enjoying them. You may dread the day you spend cooking because you're too worried about your meals being enough. You may even be exhausting your kids by making them have too much "festive fun."

If this is you, take a step back. Remind yourself that the holidays aren't about everything being perfect for everyone. It's about family and being thankful for what you have and the people in your life.

Tip #3:
Follow the K.I.S.S. method and keep it simple. 

Do less rather than trying to do more in your effort to please everyone. 

For example, if you love baking, consider the comfort food dishes you could make for the meal. Most comfort foods are simple recipes, and when you serve one of your loved one’s favorite dishes for the holiday meal, it makes them feel good. Chances are, that dish will be easier to make than that new braised lamb dish you thought about trying. 

In line with keeping it simple, you should be comfortable saying no. You’re only one person, and you should not do it all. Say no to some holiday commitments and ask for help from your family and friends to complete the to-do list. 

Tip #4:
Make time for yourself.

Take walks, give yourself a movie night, practice your favorite hobby, and do other relaxing activities. Set a goal to take time out for yourself with a few moments each day and a special time out at least once a week. 

Remember that you're just one person and can only accomplish so much. (Yes, we’ll keep coming back to this important point.) It's so easy to try to be everything for everyone this time of the year that we forget to care for ourselves too. 

Self-care needs to be a priority. Unless you take care of yourself, you cannot hope to benefit others in the ways you wish.

Tip #5:   
Put yourself in control by creating a spending plan. 

This is much easier than it sounds for larger families and those with very tight budgets. If your kids are choosing gifts on their wish list that are outside of your budget, chat with them about realistic expectations and how the holidays aren't about expensive gifts. 

As a parent, you can help alleviate stress for others in your gift-giving circle at the same time by teaching your children how to choose wish list items that are affordable for most budgets.

If you’re in a large family with many children and adults to buy gifts for, plan ahead for the holiday gift-giving day. Exchange names, so each person only has one or two people to buy for. Even if you’re doing okay, another family member may be too embarrassed to say anything and max out their credit card or skip a few meals to buy gifts.

When you control your own spending and give others the ability to control their holiday expenses, you alleviate stress for everyone.

Tip #6:
Volunteer for a local charity. 

Working at a soup kitchen, food drive, or charity that sponsors individuals or families will help lift your mood. Volunteering will help you gain confidence and a sense of achievement. When you do good for others, you gain life satisfaction and take a break from your holiday obligations that are stressing you out.

After spending time with people not as fortunate as you are, you gain a new perspective on the expectations the holidays bring upon you. It can recharge your focus on what truly matters this time of the year.

If you're spending the holidays on your own, volunteering helps you stay socialized, make new friends, and feel as if the holiday wasn't wasted. You find a new reason to focus on what you have instead of what you do not have.

Tip #7:
Encourage healthier conversations during the holiday season. 

Concentrate on what you have in common with your family members and steer away from the differences. Try to keep in mind all the happier memories you have together and focus on expressing gratitude, appreciation, and thanks for one another.

If you’re hosting the holiday gathering, plan on some games to encourage your loved ones to interact in fun ways. Movie nights, board games, sledding with the kids, and more can steer attention away from disputes and create new memories everyone will love.

Are you hosting a holiday event? 

Here are some tips and mid-century modern products to help you set the mood and enjoy a more carefree, festive atmosphere together.

Choose Modular Seating

The flexibility of modular furniture makes decorating a cozy family space so easy for the holidays. The Mario Bellini Sofa Collection is multi-functional and accommodating so that you can mix and match pieces to make everyone comfortable.

Update the Guest Room

Ditch the old saggy bed and give your guests a restful night's sleep that makes family disputes a thing of the past with a new cozy bed.

Add a Nap Area

Do you have guests coming with small children? Provide a quiet area in an extra room for when they have holiday overwhelm and need a nap away from the noise. Daybeds make the perfect 'time out' space for the whole family.

Update The Dining Table

Create fond memories with a table designed for family conversations and functionality. Update the old dining table or add a few smaller tables for sharing good food, board games, and more on the special day.