Simplify Your Holiday Season When Wedding Planning

Mother of the Bride, are you trying to prepare for and celebrate the holidays while also in wedding planning mode? My advice is to give yourself a break and simplify where you can. If possible, put wedding planning on the backburner for December. 

If postponing wedding planning is not possible in your situation, why not simplify your holiday preparations and activities. In fact, even if you can put wedding planning on hold during December, go ahead and take it easier during the holiday season anyway. Don’t just trade one demanding season for another.

Here are a few suggestions to help simplify your holidays this year. Try at least two or three of the ideas—or really get some rest and try them all! You deserve the break, MOB!

  1. Hire a young teen to wrap your Christmas presents. You won’t have to pay as much and the teen will be glad to earn some extra spending money.
  2. Decide on a one-size-fits-all gift to give to many on your list. This will ease the strain on your brain and streamline your shopping. You could give something fun like gift cards to a movie theater or tickets to a sporting event or concert, something yummy like gift baskets from your favorite chocolatier or restaurant gift cards, or something meaningful like a donation to a charity.
  3. Take a break from helping with Christmas programs or providing goodies for holiday events. It may be hard to say no but you owe it to yourself and your family this year when wedding planning stress may already be pressing in as you enter the holiday season.
  4. Scale back on decorating your home. You don’t have to put everything out every year. This is one of those areas where you can easily give yourself a break. Decorate only one room—or put just one or two of your favorite things in each room. You might decide you like this approach so much, you’ll make it your new tradition!
  5. Instead of your traditional time-intensive Christmas dinner, do something simpler. Fix a variety of your favorite appetizers along with home-baked rolls and your traditional desserts or bring in a take-out Italian feast from your favorite Italian restaurant. Make it a festive event with music playing and candles glowing.
  6. Forgo sending Christmas cards or letters this year. Friends and family know you are busier this year than usual and will totally understand if you opt not to send holiday greetings. Post a special greeting on your favorite social media outlet and call it good.
  7. Cut back on your holiday baking and candy-making. Like with decorating, you don’t have to do everything this year. Choose your family’s absolute favorite treats and fix only those.

Maybe these suggestions have even sparked some ideas of your own, MOB. If so, that’s wonderful! Give yourself permission to take the pressure off this year!

*You might also like to read Realistic December Wedding Planning, Mother of the Bride, Enjoy December!, and Time Management: Give Yourself a Break, MOB.

*Flickr photo by luna715, Creative Commons License

7 November Stress-Busters

The calendar has turned the page to another new month so that means it’s time to offer you another set of month-appropriate stress-busters. I hope you’re enjoying beginning each month with some ideas designed to help you relax and refresh in the face of stress.

Whether dealing with the normal daily stresses of life or additional major stresses, we all need ways that can help us step back for a few minutes and intentionally put that stress on a back-burner. If we do that often enough, we may find our overall feelings of stress diminishing as we learn to better cope with them day by day.

May the stress-busting strategies below come in handy in November when you find yourself in need of refreshment and relief. Be blessed, friends!

November Stress-Busters

  1. Take a few minutes to watch the leaves fall from the trees and dance their way to the ground. As you watch them float gently down, imagine your stress falling from your head, your shoulders, your arms, your hands, your legs, and your feet in the same way. Consciously relax your body.
  2. Before going to bed each night, jot down at least one thing that happened that day for which you’re thankful. Gratitude has a way of changing our perspective and lessening the worries of the day. By the end of the month, you may decide to keep a gratitude list or journal year-round.
  3. As you begin thinking ahead to Christmas, decide on at least two ways you can simplify your life or the celebration of the season in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. If you can go beyond making two changes, wonderful. Anything you can do to ease the increased demand of the holiday season will be well worth it.
  4. Enjoy some Thanksgiving nostalgia. Recall and share with family or friends some of your memories of childhood Thanksgivings. Welcome and listen to others’ stories as well. End by sharing your most memorable Thanksgiving whether long past or fairly recent. Let the comfort of past joys soothe your spirit today.
  5. Head outside for some impromptu physical activity. Get in a little leaf-raking therapy or go on your own little turkey trot around the neighborhood. Or you might grab some loved ones and challenge them to a quick game of basketball or touch football. Let your adrenaline pump that stress right out of your mind and body.
  6. Reach out to someone hurting or in need and in the process watch your stresses fade into the background. No question about it—you will be blessed as you bless someone else.
  7. Simplify at the end of a busy day and have breakfast for dinner. Set aside an evening of time-intensive dinner prep and cleanup and fix pancakes and bacon or scrambled eggs and sausage instead. You’ll still enjoy a hot meal with a touch of comfort to boot.

Add to these November stress-busters the ultimate stress-buster of dropping your burdens at the feet of Jesus and peace will be your portion this month rather than worry. Can’t beat a trade like that!

“‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.’” Matthew 11:28

*Share with us—tell about your most memorable Thanksgiving or mention what you’re thankful for today. We’ll all be blessed!

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by Vijay Gunda, Creative Commons License

7 October Stress-Busters

After posting 7 September Stress-Busters last month, I thought it might be nice to offer month-appropriate stress busters each month throughout this next year. Stress certainly doesn’t take a vacation, so many of us might benefit from some fresh stress-busters at the beginning of every month, huh?

May the following stress-busting strategies come in handy in October when you find yourself in need of refreshment and relief. Be blessed, friends!

October Stress-Busters

  1. Enjoy a fun fall activity with some favorite kiddos in your life. Visit a pumpkin patch, collect colorful leaves, or carve pumpkins for Halloween. Enjoy the season like a kid again!
  2. Decompress with the beauty—and awesome autumn scents—of candlelight. Light candles in various spots in your house so their soothing beauty and comforting aromas will refresh you as you move from room to room.
  3. After the leaves change color, go on a walk in the woods (or your favorite tree-lined street or park.) Let the awesome oranges, reds, and golds fill your spirit with joy.
  4. Spend an entire day (or morning or evening) in your favorite comfy pants and cozy socks. As you change into your relaxed attire and let it comfort your body, take off the stress of the day or week as well. Let your spirit and soul relax and be refreshed.
  5. Plan a coffee or lunch date with friends and treat yourselves to some special foods or drinks offered during fall. Get that pumpkin spice latte or apple cinnamon muffin. Slow down and savor a taste of autumn.
  6. Watch for an especially cool evening and start a fire in the fireplace or firepit. Sit for awhile and soak up its warmth and relaxing beauty. And don’t forget to roast some marshmallows or make some smores. Fully enjoy this evening respite.
  7. Let the cool evenings of October give you permission to curl up on the sofa with your favorite hot drink and a good book (or a must-see tv show.) Lose yourself—and your stress—in a compelling or funny story. Enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labor.

Along with these stress-busting strategies for October, let’s not forget to turn to the One who knows every stress we face and is willing and waiting to take the load from us and let us relax in his arms. No better place to be—no matter the day or month!

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deuteronomy 33:27

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early November. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*Flickr photo by dan.kristiansen, Creative Commons License

7 September Stress-Busters

With Labor Day behind us and summer officially over, let’s kick off the rest of September with a few stress-busters to keep at the ready. With the return of regular routines and full schedules, stress is bound to creep back in as well. We might as well be prepared, right?

May the following stress-busting strategies come in handy this month when you find yourself in need of refreshment and relief. Be blessed, friends!

September Stress-Busters

  1. Pull out your fall décor and celebrate the coming change of season. A new season has a way of invigorating and refreshing us, especially when it involves the cooler days following summer. Even if you’re not seeing or feeling the signs of the season yet, joy and fresh energy will bubble up as you light your favorite fall candle and look forward to the season.
  2. Take a break and enjoy your summer photos and videos. Sometimes we’re so busy squeezing in as much summer fun as we can that we don’t have time to enjoy the photos we captured in the midst of it. Give yourself a chance to do it now. Relive your memories. Smile, laugh, and linger over all your precious remembrances—of the summer and even earlier times as well. Enjoy!
  3. Attend a sporting event and root for your favorite team. Whether it’s football, soccer, or late-season baseball, re-energize yourself with the fun of cheering on your team with like-minded friends and family. Leave any stress behind and just have fun!
  4. Take a drive outside of town and go down a road you’ve never taken before. Let the milder temperatures inspire you to explore new territory. You won’t have to go far to find a road you’ve never traveled. Stop along the way and snap some photos or simply enjoy the sounds of country life.
  5. Enjoy some of your favorite fall comfort foods. When cooler days present themselves, bake your favorite cookies during down time at home or start a pot of chili or favorite soup before you head out the door. Savor each warm and yummy bite.
  6. Treat yourself to a nap. Sometimes all you need to bust stress before it takes a firm hold is a little extra rest. Grab your pillow and snuggle down on the sofa. If it’s cool enough, grab your favorite comfy blanket or afghan as well. Close your eyes and give in to sleep, glorious sleep.
  7. Step away from the demands of life and enjoy your favorite hobby. Whether it’s reading, biking, knitting, or taking photos, it’s important to carve out some time to do something that recharges your spirit. When you come back to your to-do list, you’ll feel more relaxed and energized for your tasks.

Along with these strategies for September, don’t forget the ultimate stress-buster that works year round—quiet time with the Lord. Reading his Word, pouring out your heart in prayer and praise, and enjoying quiet moments with him outside in his glorious creation will all certainly refresh you and set your heart at peace. With him you’ll find true refreshment and relief!

“‘I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.’” Jeremiah 31:25 NIV

*Which stress-busters do you most look forward to this fall?

*Flickr photo by infomastern, Creative Commons License

A Prayer for Your Summer Plus My May Blogging Break

As I mentioned in my Spirit and Soul Refreshment for Busy Lives post a couple of weeks ago, May can be one of the busiest months of the year. And this year is no exception for me. Probably not for you either, huh?

To do my part in allowing a little breathing room, I’m taking a blogging break the last half of this month. So no worries if it appears I’ve abandoned my blog over the next couple of weeks. I’ll be back with regular weekly posts sometime when June is bustin’ out all over. Let’s say June 6th. June should be in full bustin’ mode by then, right?

Before I break away, though, I’d love to pray for us all as we prepare to head into summer and all that it holds. May this prayer be a blessing to you as we gear up for the upcoming summer season. Feel free to keep it handy to give needed encouragement and refreshment as the days and weeks unfolds.

Pray with me, won’t you?

Lord, you are the Maker of every season and we thank you for the gift of summer. It’s a time to break from many of our normal routines and enjoy more time outdoors in your glorious creation, more time with our families and friends, and more opportunities for travel adventures. Thanks so much for such a wonderful gift.

Guide us, Lord, as we make plans. Help us not to pack so much into the fleeting weeks of summer that we end up feeling stressed rather than refreshed. And please grant your blessing, Lord, that all logistics for special activities and travels will flow smoothly so we can have truly refreshing times instead of those marked by frustration or disappointment. We don’t take mercies like this for granted so we ask humbly and thank you in advance.

Please protect us, Lord, as we do things like hike and swim and play sports. Watch over us, please, in our travels so that we will arrive safely at every destination. Protect us as well from our enemy Satan as he continues to try to undermine our relationship with you and with others. He doesn’t take a season off. Please surround us with your protection.

And finally, Lord, please bless us with lots of sweet times with you and with loved ones this summer. Grant us memories that will make us smile for years to come and also grant us periods of rest that will refresh and re-energize us to get back to normal routines in the fall. And may we shine the light of your love everywhere we go and in all that we do. May you be glorified in our summer, O Lord! In your precious name we pray, Amen.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us” Psalm 67:1 NIV

*Do you have any special plans or activities that you’re looking forward to this summer? I’d love to hear about it!

The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out early this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*My photo (taken in the Cleveland Botanical Garden)