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Simple Solutions — Your Holiday Not-To-Do List

Do you spend every holiday grumbling about all the work that you have to do? Complaining about the cooking, shopping, decorating, and entertaining? I hate to seem unsympathetic to your plight, but I don’t understand ruining the joy of the season with a lot of bitching! If you dislike an activity so much that all you can do is whine about it, why do it? If your answer is, “Because it’s a holiday tradition,” my response will be, “So what?!”

The first key to creating a peaceful holiday season is identifying those holiday rituals that you enjoy and those that you don’t. When you spend your precious time and energy on activities that you don’t find rewarding, you are destined to become frustrated and cranky — and probably make those around you unhappy, as well. So go ahead and be honest with yourself about your likes and dislikes before the season even starts. Make a list of every possible holiday “obligation” that you can think of. Your list might contain (but not be limited to) the following:

  • send greeting cards
  • bake holiday goodies
  • decorate the house
  • shop for gifts
  • wrap gifts
  • make the holiday meal
  • attend church services
  • go caroling
  • volunteer
  • visit extended family
  • visit friends
  • spend time with spouse
  • plan family get-together
  • spend time with kids
  • decorate the tree
  • clean house
  • shop for food
  • attend a concert/play
  • watch holiday TV
  • visit Santa
  • look at lights
  • host a party
  • attend a party
  • take a walk in nature


Now, here’s the fun part — circle those items that you enjoy doing and absolutely don’t want to miss this holiday season. Then cross out those that you hate, despise, and dread. Be honest here! If you loathe baking, don’t try to convince yourself that this year you will turn into Donna Reed with a batch of homemade gingerbread — ain’t gonna happen! And you can get very specific if you need to. You might love visiting with your parents, but can’t stand seeing your critical Aunt Louise. That’s fine — make visiting your parents one activity and seeing Aunt Louise another. It might be a good idea to have everyone in your family make their own lists — everyone has different ideas about what activities are joyous and which ones are miserable.


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    Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and

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    4 Responses

    1. Miriam Ortiz y Pino says:

      I totally agree.

    2. Alys says:

      Nice. Have you read the Simplify Your Life books by Elaine St James? She carries this over into every aspect of life. I gave the books at holiday gifts one year.

    3. Ramona says:

      oh yeah — those are great — I read those years ago as my initial inspiration to downsize and live more simply (I wonder what she would think about taking the idea to the extreme of living in an Airstream?!) I actually have plans to write a series of simplifying books, each looking at a different issue that seems to complicate and frustrate people’s lives — I’m shopping for an agent, if anyone has any suggestions :)

    4. Janet Barclay, Organized Assistant says:

      The holiday season would be much less stressful if everyone dropped the traditions that weren’t meaningful and enjoyable to them. What makes it tricky is by the time we get around to making plans, it’s often too late to raise the topic with others. It’s good that you brought this up nice and early, before everyone’s plans were already underway.

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