Wendy Poling
Frequent Contributor

The lights are hung, the Christmas Tree is decorated and most of the presents are wrapped. Christmas is less than a week away. The next few days I'll be baking and mailing off Christmas care packages filled with goodies to family far away, and then there is the deep cleaning of my house, along with a list of many other things to get done.


Are you ready for Christmas?


With so many things to do and such a short time left before "the big day", here are some simple tips to help manage holiday expectations:


Let go of perfection! – Our family really only wants to spend time with us and enjoy our company. Do your best to prepare and plan for the week, and then let go of perfection and decide to enjoy yourself no matter what.


Simplify – Are there dishes you are preparing or traditions that you are keeping that cause stress? Get rid of what no longer works for your family. Simplify your routines and enjoy the extra time by having a cup of tea and doing something you DO enjoy!


Play some music – The LA Times recently reported Mariah Carey's song, "All I Want for Christmas is You" is currently the top streamed holiday song. Listening to music can brighten our mood, give us energy and bring a smile to our face. If your feeling overwhelmed, stream some music for a quick boost of good energy.


Strategically plan gift giving with extended family – When it comes to gift giving with your kids and family, the expectation of fulfilling every wished for item can be a high expectation to meet. Consider putting some mystery back into Christmas and only purchasing some of the items. Purchase a mix of expensive and inexpensive, thoughtful options. Coordinate with extended family members (grandmas and grandpas) on gifts so not to overload your children on Christmas morning.


Adapt and Overcome – As military spouses we are often asked to be flexible when it comes to celebrating major milestones with our loved one. I've learned it's okay to celebrate a birthday, anniversary and even Christmas on a day we choose, and not necessarily on the precise calendar day. If your spouse is deployed this holiday choose to be flexible and celebrate again when they return, even if it happens to be later in Jan or early Feb. Use Skype if possible to have a Christmas Day mini celebration.


In the hustle and bustle of preparing for Christmas and managing different expectations, let us all stop to take a deep breath, live in a state of gratitude and take time to remember the reason for the season.


If your spouse is deployed this holiday, your sacrifice does not go unnoticed. Hugs to you and I say, stay strong! I pray your loved one returns home safely and soon!


Sending you much love and best wishes for a memorable, joy filled Christmas.


How do you manage expectations during the holidays? Share your tips!


Related article:

How to Manage Childrens' Holiday Gift Expectations

Strategies for a Stress-Free Holiday with Krista Wells, The Military Spouse Coach