My name is Jacqueline, and I’m a Christmas Grinch. There are those that start decorating the tree and listen to the holiday radio station November 1st, and then there’s us Grinches; we dread the holidays. Now I have a great family and always have a lovely time when the big day arrives, but leading up to the holidays is another story — a plethora of parties, shopping, and a never-ending to-do list. It’s no wonder why many of us feel stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed this time of year.

Now, I consider myself a reformed Grinch. I’ve learned over years how to embrace what truly matters about this time of year and let go of what doesn’t matter. So here are a few tips for all those fellow Grinches to find your inner Christmas spirit.

You don’t have to be a socialite: Remember the days when all you had to attend was the office Christmas party? Nowadays it feels like November and December are a steady stream of lunches and parties. For me, it was becoming impossible to attend them all. Now I only attend the ones that I’m able to, and I don’t worry or feel guilty about the ones I cant. As they say, you can’t be everything to everyone so try rotating the events you attend this time of year. Maybe switch which ones you each year or only on focus on visiting the ones with friends and coworkers that you enjoy most.

Be Prepared: The holidays always have a way of sneaking up on us, don’t they? Every year I promise myself I’m not going to put off holiday shopping, and then every year on December 23rd I am braving the malls with my fellow procrastinating Grinches! No wonder it’s stressful. Now how did I overcome this, I give myself a deadline for when I’ll have my shopping completed, and I stick to it. This year I was finished by November!

Gift exchanges: Coming from a large family, I struggled with finding the perfect give for everyone on my list. So a few years ago my family started doing a gift exchange. We mix it up with different games, secret Santa, and one year gave the gift of donations. It’s a great way of minimizing the amount of shopping, we all still get a fun family experience on Christmas day.

Find the calm among the chaos: As a busy Mom and Realtor, adding additional holiday activities and tasks can take a busy schedule and make it overwhelming. So this time of year I make sure to pre-book some “me time.” Be it a manicure, long bath, spa day or relaxing by the fire with a book. It’s easy to neglect time for yourself when you have so many other tasks, so important during this time of year that I don’t.

Break the rules, then make your own: Thanks to Hallmark we are told what the holidays “should” look like. But my favorite traditions are the ones I’ve made. So make your own “Hallmark Holiday”: take a vacation somewhere sunny, have a quiet day at home, order takeout instead of turkey, buy matching Christmas PJs, whatever you like. Don’t feel pressured to have the same holiday that that everyone else is having. Last year our family enjoyed the day on our own, but this year we will be having a big extended-family filled day. Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to switch it up.

And with that, I’ll leave you with my favorite holiday quote from the original reformer;

“It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

Happy Holidays