Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Holidays can push us to the brink; too much to do and too little time. The panic of finding the perfect gift, all the food prep in advance, decorating the house and wondering if the items we’ve ordered online will look as good as they did in the picture – especially clothes. It’s always the same, but with the COVID-19 panic this year, stress is off the charts.
I have a secret, since it’s all in your head. Stress and worry and over-thinking all reside in the left hemisphere of our brain. So, switch gears, shift to the right hemisphere and become more creative. There are very simple acts that will help you to engage your creative side and allow you refocus to the present moment. It’s living in the moment that eliminates stress. When you do that, you push out projection, which invites worry, and wipe away the past, which reminds us of regrets, guilt and sorrow. Instead, choose to live in the moment; the joy of that can be overwhelming and it eliminates stress, while you're in that state. Yes, and while in the present you’ll find it easier to actually love the task at hand instead of dreading it.
Take cookies, for example. Even if you’re not a cookie baker by nature, baking cookies can become a fun adventure. You don’t need a community of friends or family around you – solitude works, too. Dig out your mother’s homemade cookie recipes for butter cookies or sugar cookies or Mexican wedding cookies. Select a few that sound appealing. Then, take an entire day off and drop out of life. Turn off TV news and bask in the stillness of a quiet house or turn on low music in the background that you truly enjoy. The day is yours. Success or failure, who cares?
Part of this plan is to Google a few cookie topping ideas, check out someone’s blog on the subject or You-Tube video or revert to a cookbook you’ve had in your kitchen forever. It's time to explore the world of cookie decor. Make out a list of ingredients you'll need and head out to the store for the frostings, candy, sprinkles, food coloring, chocolate shavings, powdered sugar – let your mind wander. Then settle in to bake and create yourself into oblivion.
Hopefully when you’re finished, you’ll have dozens of cookies you couldn’t possibly eat – so they’re be perfect to share. Packaging them can be fun, too. Remember your mother’s paper doilies? Place one on a plate and one-by-one add an assortment of cookies (various kinds). Or, find great medium size holiday tins, put in some napkin, tissue or doilies inside and then, your cookies! Your neighbors or friends will be delighted and likely also be completely shocked.
Now, if cookies aren't your thing, your creative side can still be engaged this season. Decorate the inside and perhaps outside of your home - not because you have to but because you want to. Go wander through a local florist’s shop, visit your nearest Michael’s or a local Christmas store that is laden with extraordinary pieces of décor you can bring home to make your place spectacular! Put up a tree – and do something unique with it. Always give yourself time so you’re able to cherish each step of the process. There is no need to finish this in a few hours – take your time and enjoy the journey. If you always decorate – change it up a bit this year. How? Use your imagination.
My favorite creative experience is wrapping the gifts. I set aside part of my dining room table as Santa’s workshop. Of course, if you have little ones at home, a person has to be a bit more clandestine with the effort. In that case, find a large waste basket and fill it with wrapping, bags of ribbon, tape, scissors, name tags and everything you’ll need. When you take the basket from the closet – you’re ready to go. Feel the love you have for the person you’re giving the gift to, as you wrap each one. There’s something about doing a task with love, that always make it turn out better. Take your time – even if you only wrap a few; fill each effort with lots of love.
I’ve always bought the ribbon with wire so the bows can be manipulated to be perfection! I have three grandchildren and even when they were tiny, I’d wrap their gifts with very pretty ribbon, even though the paper may have had Santa, snowmen or reindeer on it. There was always a color theme for each child, too, so one year Charlie’s gifts all were in blues, Jacks were in red and Lucy’s were green. That way, when the kids dove under the tree, they knew which colors to grab that were theirs and could easily distribute the other packages, by color, to others. Today, with everyone grown, the packages are much more elegant – with maroon, white and gold but the color sameness (a different one for each) remains a family tradition. Let your creativity soar.
My daughter-in-law does amazing things with butcher paper and the natural twine, adding little springs of holly or whatever into the tie. Some gifts are in bags and others in fascinating boxes. I’ll guarantee – with her also, it’s never a rushed process.
Finally, shopping for gifts – stocking gifts, in particular. This project is the most fun while engaging one’s intuition and creativity. I try to always shop for stocking gifts primarily in person. I devote a day or two before Christmas to trek out to male-type stores, if I’m buying for a guy – and female-type stores, if I’m buying for a gal. It’s best if you rarely shop at them so everything is discovery. So, for example, I might go to a sporting goods store; or Home Depot or even an Ace Hardware or Auto Repair Store. I walk in with a completely blank mind and no expectations and wait to be inspired. I stroll slowly from aisle to aisle – then am astounded when discovering little stocking stuffers I’d have never thought of in a million years: a tire gauge for the grandson who just got his first car; a powerful little flashlight for your granddaughter who lives alone. Next door to the store is a carwash – everybody needs a gift card to a place like that. Just wander and see what pops up. Another great place is a gourmet grocery for the stocking that’s begging for a very special hot sauce or some exotic spices for someone who loves to cook. Stockings, for me, are the most fun to fill – and I wrap every single gift that goes inside – not with ribbon but absolutely with paper. Unwrapping the gifts as they’re removed from the stocking extends the process and builds anticipation. If you're the gift giver, this is the best experience to watch.
When a person allows themselves to be creative and intuitive, it seems like it is more natural for the feeling of love to flow into the task. These magical breaks in your normal Christmas routine will help diminish your seasonal stress level, guaranteed. So, shift gears this season, it could be the best family holiday ever.,