My #1 advice to people around this time of year is to be absolutely intentional with everything: with the parties you choose to say yes to, with the food and drink you choose to enjoy, and with the overall amount of “doing and buying” you choose to do. See the common theme: Choice.
Food and Drink: Unless we hide in a cave for the next month, we are going to be surrounded with even more temptation than is usual (and this is a lot, since we all know that “bad choices” are offered to us around every corner as it is already). Here’s how you handle it:
I recommend that people begin with the big picture in mind. Look at your calendar. How many events are you going to? What types of events are they? And then, what do you LOVE MOST and ENJOY MOST about what will be served? Maybe it will be a glass of wine or two. Maybe it will be crackers and cheese because you normally stay away from gluten and dairy. Maybe it will be Aunt Sharon’s butter tarts because they are amazing and she only makes them during this time of year.
Believe me, I know how beautiful and tempting a spread of Christmas baking can be. BUT, when I take a deep breath and actually look closely at all that baking, I realize that there are only a few things that I would actually LOVE to eat: whipped shortbread and gingersnaps (only if they are soft). I take a couple of these, and I then allow myself to deeply and fully enjoy them SLOWLY (make it last longer). This way, I don’t feel at all that I have been deprived because I have eaten what I REALLY wanted to, and left the stuff that is OK (I mean it all tastes good) but isn’t WORTH IT to me.
Planning ahead, or at least giving some thought as to the situations you will be in can be very helpful. Its true that sometimes you don’t know what will be served specifically, but you can still have a damned good guess. Like is this the first time you’re EVER going into a similar situation? NO. It isn’t.
For appy nights, choose a couple of things you are really excited to eat (or don't normally have or normally cook) and balance it out with some good choices. None there? Plan on brining some. I usually do! Cut up some of YOUR favourite veggies and bring YOUR favourite dip so you know there are some good options. Going to a dinner? If it’s a buffet, fill half your plate with veggies, add a good protein and top with something that you really love – like a bun with butter or stuffing, or something like that. Having a served sit down meal with absolutely no say over what it is? Eat the veggies FIRST, then the protein, and if you’re still hungry (truly) eat the starches slowly until you are full. And BTW, a reminder here: ONE BAD MEAL means NOTHING. (It’s the habit of bad meals over and over that is problematic).
YOU are always in the drivers seat. YOU make the choices. Food doesn’t jump down your throat. If you feel too tempted by the food in front of you, don’t stand there. Go find a spot on the sofa talking to an interesting person you met at the party. Need major accountability? Announce to people that you are only having one plate and definitely NOT eating any sweets. There are so many things you can do, but you have to give some intentional thought to them first. If you need help with a specific event, please reach out and let’s brainstorm about some of the things you can do.
I’d also like to briefly touch upon the other two items I have mentioned because I think they influence our choices. I always tell my clients that saying YES to something always means saying NO to something else. And we really need to be intentional about what we are saying yes to. During this time of year, chances are you have been invited to way more things than you’d actually like to be going to. And if you show up to one of those events that you’re not too excited to actually be at (you said yes because you felt “obligated to”) and you’d actually prefer to be at home watching Netflix in your PJ’s, you may not be making the best food choices there. You’ll possibly want to “self-soothe” by eating more crap than you should. You probably should just have said no and stayed at home. We can only fit so much into our already busy lives; so remember that saying NO is a form of self-care.
And finally, make life easy for yourself. If you’re already so busy from January to November, it seems impossible to do all the extra Christmas stuff you have to do in December (and let’s be honest, it’s more like October – December). So be intentional with how you spend your time altogether. I like thinking about the season with BOTH of the “KISS” methods. You all know the first: Keep It Simple Stupid but I also like this one: Keep, Improve, Stop, Start.
Keep: Maybe you love taking your kids to look at Christmas lights at Spruce Meadows. You have a whole tradition around that. Keep that. It’s wonderful.
Improve: Maybe you’re the one always making Christmas dinner and it’s a BIG ASS responsibility. Maybe you need to improve this for yourself. Ask people to bring cooked dishes; use paper plates; stop making so many dishes; get it catered; tell someone its THEIR turn to do it; fly to Mexico and avoid it altogether ;)
Stop: Maybe this is the year to stop buying gifts for the adult kids. Maybe it’s time to give cash (gasp) or a gift card instead!? That can still be very thoughtful. Movie passes? Time spent together? OR, maybe it’s time to stop sending the Christmas cards that take you forever to do but honestly, no one really reads because they are so busy doing their own Christmas stuff lol!
Start: Maybe this is the year you implement a form of self-care around Christmas and start slowing down. Saying no. Maybe this is the year you treat yourself to a couple of massages in December and use up that health spending you have to use up before the end of the year anyway. You get the idea.
So, in summary, I’d say that my advice boils down to this: BE INTENTIONAL. You are the adult, you get to make choices. Make choices that are worthwhile to you, and always be looking for ways to make things more peaceful, and more enjoyable for yourself. A lot of times for us women, this means saying NO to things. Be your own best advocate. Know when to ask for help, and when to say no. And, if you need help with something specific, I’d love to help!