Christmas tree with text overlay: If I Make It Through December: Tips to Get Everything Done and Enjoy the Holidays

If I Make It Through December: Tips to Get Everything Done and Enjoy the Holidays

There was a song by Merle Haggard called, “If We Make It Through December” that was popular when I was a kid. Although I don’t have the same reasons he sang about for feeling that way, around this time every year, that’s how I start to feel.

I love the holidays, but when you live with fibromyalgia or another chronic illness, this can be the toughest time of the year. In our family, the holiday season starts with Thanksgiving and goes through New Year’s Day.

There are so many things to do, social occasions to attend, and family obligations to fulfill, it can become overwhelming. That’s why I start making my plan (and my lists) now. That way, I’m able to get everything done without wearing myself out or worse yet, ending up in a flare that completely derails my holiday joy.

I thought I’d share a few tips that have worked for me over the years – maybe some of these will help you get everything done and enjoy your holiday season as well

Make a master task list. 

For this list, you’ll want to include everything you’re going to need to do for the holiday season. Do you need to deep-clean? Pick up a gift for Secret Santa at work? How about shopping for and preparing holiday meals?

You can use this list to make sure you’ve got everything covered through the entire holiday season. This could include any cleaning tasks, grocery shopping you need to do, gifts you need to buy, etc..

Break the list into smaller, bite-sized tasks.

This is where you really get down to the work of planning. Break up larger tasks into your smaller, actionable steps. Do you need to do a whole-house cleaning? Break your cleaning list into specific chores that will have to be done and spread them out over the time you have.

Start early.

Obviously some things, like cooking, will have to be done on the day of, or very close to, the day of the event. Other things can be done early though – If you need to do deep cleaning, you could do one thing each day. If you need to stock up on extra groceries, you could buy your non-perishables now. Whatever you can do now will save you some time and effort once the really busy days between Thanksgiving and Christmas get here.

Now is also a good time, if you haven’t already, to decide on your budget for the holidays that you celebrate. It’s a great time to go ahead and decide who you’re going to buy gifts for, how much you want to spend on each person, and even think about what you want to give them. This can help you stick to your budget and look for the best deals on the things you really want to buy.

Do a little at a time.

If you’ve broken your list up into those smaller steps, you can plan to do a little at a time. As you know, pacing is crucial when you have a lot to do. Doing a little at a time over several days is much better than trying to do everything at once and ending up in a flare.

Shop online.

I guess I don’t need to tell you that shopping online can be a huge time and energy saver. Just be sure that the sites you use are reputable sites and guard your personal information carefully.

Divide the labor when possible.

Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself, especially if you’re hosting a get-together. People are almost always happy to help out with bringing a dish, or helping in the kitchen, etc.. Check out some Tips to Make Entertaining Easier for more ways to make things simpler.

We always go to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and my Mom and I split the work. We devise our menu, then decide who is going to cook what. It’s great because neither of us has to do all the work, plus we have double the kitchen space to prepare the food.

Use your grocery store’s pick-up service.

Many grocery stores now offer curbside pick-up when you shop their stores online. Some stores are waiving their fee if you buy over a certain amount right now. I know for Kroger, it’s over $35.

Take care of yourself.

Don’t abandon your self-care plan. It’s more critical now than ever to make sure you’re looking out for yourself. When doing your planning, make sure you schedule in some time to take care of yourself.

Just say no.

If your obligations start to become too much, don’t hesitate to say no to some of them, and don’t feel guilty if you do. Decide ahead of time which things are most important, and let some of the lower-priority things go.

The holidays can be a great time of joy, but they can also be stressful, especially for those of us who live with chronic illness. If we plan ahead, pace ourselves, and give ourselves a little grace we can get things done and actually enjoy our holiday season.

What have you found most helpful for avoiding the ‘holiday sprint’ and actually enjoying the holiday season? Please share!




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Christmas tree with text overlay: If I Make It Through December: Tips to Get Everything Done and Enjoy the Holidays


Christmas tree with text overlay: If I Make It Through December: Tips to Get Everything Done and Enjoy the Holidays

Christmas tree with text overlay: If I Make It Through December: Tips to Get Everything Done and Enjoy the Holidays


    1. Thanks for sharing Pene! Learning to say no is one of the hardest things, I think. I used to have a tough time with it and felt I had to do everything “expected” of me. I finally learned that I can’t do it all and maintain my health, so I do the things that are most important and let some of the less important ones go. Blessings to you!

    1. Good for you V.J., and thanks for sharing! Establishing a budget is a great way to help curb overspending. It’s really easy to “break the bank” when it comes to Christmas shopping, especially when we so many things that “would be just perfect for …….” 😊 Blessings to you sweet friend!

      1. Oh, I’m glad you figured it out. I have that issue with some websites too, and some of them, I can’t comment through the reader….. I really wish I were more computer literate.

    1. Thanks so much Cynthia! I don’t start my Christmas decorating until the day after Thanksgiving, but I get a head-start on other things like the cleaning, planning menus, gift lists, etc. That way, once it’s time to decorate, I can get that done in just a couple of days (a little at a time, of course.😊) It’s great to hear from you – I hope you’re doing well. Sending hugs your way!

    1. Thanks so much Bar! I find myself going back and forth between being ahead on my list and being behind, so don’t feel bad.😊 At least we have a list, right? This will be your first Christmas in your new home – I’ll bet that’s exciting! Sending hugs your way!

    1. Thanks so much Brigid! I hope the flu stays away from you this year. It’s terrible to be ill during the holidays. I hope you stay healthy and happy through the entire holiday season this year. Hugs!

  1. I’ve wanted to avoid the ‘C’ word for as long as possible because, well, ignorance is bliss sometimes 😉 But actually it’s more logical to start a little earlier and pace, so your tips are perfectly timed. I’m really glad you’ve included to look after ourselves because that’s something that gets pushed to the back of all those to-do lists and ironically by doing that everything else can slip and fall behind as we struggle to keep up. Fab post, Terri – I need to think about my budget & get myself a big piece of paper to see what needs to be done!
    Caz xx

    1. Oops…. sorry Caz! I have to start everything early or I’ll never get it all done. You’re so right that if we don’t take care of ourselves we run the risk of everything falling behind. Sending hugs your way sweet friend!

  2. Yes, early preparation & pacing is the key Terri.

    We changed to meeting for our big combined family picnic at the waterfront Christmas Eve (as there’s up to 22 -25 of us each year depending on individual commitments) & everyone brings their own picnic with hubby & I supplying dessert treats.
    This has worked extremely well in our hot summer climate with a playground for all the grandchildren, a beach to cool off & not one particular person (me) having to have the burden of doing all the cooking on a hot summers day 😀

    1. Thanks for sharing Jennifer! Your family picnic sounds wonderful! I love it when everyone can share in the prep duties – that way, as you said, one person doesn’t get stuck doing it all. Having such a great place to meet doesn’t hurt either, does it?😁 Sending hugs sweet friend!

  3. This is an awesome list Terri. I love how you acknowledge how this can be the most stressful time of year for those of us with chronic illness……..last Christmas I am so ill, I couldn’t get out of bed and I hope to not have a repeat. It is so overwhelming and it begins at Halloween in my house and goes through New Year. I love this time of year and I am printing off your -always amazing- advice and hanging on my wall as a reminder.

    1. Thank you so much Wendi! I’m sorry to hear you were ill last Christmas. That really does put a damper on everything. I hope you are able to stay well enough to enjoy it this year. I hope you’re kind to yourself and remember to take your “me time” as needed. Sending love and hugs your way sweet friend!

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