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6 Holiday Mistakes Moms Make
(And How to Avoid Them)

While the holidays can be a magical time of year, for most of us, they're also filled with stress, anxiety and the pressure of getting it all done. And doesn't it seem like the busier we are, the higher our expectations become? We talked to moms everywhere, asking them about their biggest holiday flaw. Time and time again, it boiled down to these 6 key mistakes.

The Spender

Her mistake: Year after year, she maxes out credit cards and creates a massive amount of debt, sparing no expense on those she loves.

The reality: Whether you spend $5 or $500, there will always be people who won't appreciate the gift (22% of gift receivers returned a gift in the first shopping week after Christmas last year). There's a reason people say it's not about the money. It's because it's not about the money.

Los Angeles-based therapist Stacy Kaiser says they do it for one of three reasons:

  1. It's convenient to just go out and spend.
  2. They think it's expected.
  3. They're trying to keep up with the Joneses.

How to Overcome it: Making a deal with yourself ahead of time is key, says Kaiser, whether it's to follow a budget, go homemade, or agree to no gifts at all. "What people want is to know the gift is heartfelt and that they were thought of."

Is your brother a musician? He could always use new guitar strings or sheet music. Thinking of the recipient's true personality when shopping goes a long way.

The Social Butterfly

Her Mistake: She can't even count on two hands the number of parties and events she attends over the holidays. School plays, office parties, neighborhood gift exchanges… if she's invited, she's there.

The Reality: The Social Butterfly spends so much time "having fun" that she doesn't get to enjoy the true gift of the season. And all those things she put off doing so she could make an appearance, they're still there the next morning.

How to Overcome It: Kaiser says it's all about prioritizing. The school stuff makes the kids feel loved and happy. Go. The holiday White Elephant with the girls you worked with right after college? You might just have to let go of that one. If it's not truly important to you or your family, politely decline.

The People Pleaser

Her Mistake: Whether it's keeping nog-chugging Uncle Bill away from Aunt Rita in recovery or spending an exactly-equal amount of time at both sets of grandparents, the People Pleaser wants everyone to be happy, sometimes fielding bizarre and demanding phone calls or driving hundreds of miles over a two-day span to get it done.

The Reality: Best-case scenario, no family squabbles and everyone seems relatively satisfied – except you. You're so on edge, afraid that something will go wrong that you never get to enjoy yourself.

How to Overcome it: Let go. If your cousin Jill and Aunt Vera can't get along, that's their problem. It's not your job to keep them occupied in different rooms. And unless you can clone yourself in the next few weeks, you can't be two places at the same time. Kaiser says "pick the three people that matter most and tell everyone else you're sorry."

The Cookie Monster

Her Mistake: She uses the holidays as carte blanche to pig out. Whether it's holiday pies, cookies or those delicious turkey dinner side dishes, she tackles them like a Thanksgiving football game linebacker.

The Reality: The Cookie Monster keeps eating, long after she loosens a button or two on her holiday skirt. It becomes less about the food and more just because it's the holidays and she can. She's the same woman who drops an obscene amount of cash on a new gym membership or treadmill in January.

How to Overcome It: "Make a commitment to moderation," says Kaiser. Want that pumpkin pie? Try a little. Only eat those sweet potatoes once a year? Then of course, indulge a bit. The key is to taste those special foods, enjoying the flavor. Inhaling them like you're a Hoover looking for the last crumb? Nobody needs to see that.

The Procrastinator

Her Mistake: (This part has not been written due to procrastinating writer not getting to it.)

The Reality: The Procrastinator expends more energy stressing about all she has to do than the energy required to just do it.

How to Overcome It: Make a weekly list. Kaiser says it's important to commit to checking off at least one task each day, however small. Doing things little bylittle is easier on you and will get you halfway to your goal by the time you would usually be just getting started.

The Perfectionist

Her Mistake: Shopping, wrapping, baking… it all must be done flawlessly, even if it means foregoing sleep in the name of the holidays.

The Reality: Cookies are inhaled in seconds flat (See: The Cookie Monster). Gift wrap is shredded and tossed in the trash, without even noticing the sparkly appliqués and tulle bells. And don't forget the disappointing fact that what you may think is the perfect gift, isn't always perfect for the recipient (see: The Spender).

How to Overcome it: Let's face it, the holidays will never be a success because you've mastered the art of the pretty bow. Ask yourself: If I let go and don't do everything that I expect from myself, will it really change anything?

Kaiser says if you fall into the perfectionist category, there are tricks to help you out. "Go out of your way and make some messes, deliberately do something that's not perfect. Let your child frost the cookies so they're messy, or put the dip and chips in non-matching dishes. It will go a long way in helping you to let go."

Moms everywhere create that added stress over the holidays. It's what we do. But this year, try to remember that the magic of the holiday season is about sharing time with those we love, doing the things we like to do together. In fact, the biggest gift you can give your family is not a present, it's to be present.

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