Leadership: Create your to-dos and not-to-dos for the holiday season

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Kathie Rotz PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Kathie Rotz PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Kathie Rotz PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Kathie Rotz PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Kathie Rotz PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

PHOTO CREDIT: Metro Creative

Kathie Rotz PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

Our schedules this time of year naturally are full with holiday celebrations. Plus, we have extra duties, like shopping, baking, wrapping and decorating.

We don’t have to do some of these events or tasks, but I want to. Even though it’s a lot of work, I enjoy a decorated house with our memory tree (ornaments from vacations and monumental family events) and Christmas village.

In the evenings, when it is dark by 5 p.m., I treasure the coziness of our home with only the decoration lights turned on.

It usually takes me the entire Thanksgiving weekend to fully decorate my house. With all the other holiday tasks on my list, this decorating frenzy often feels overly extravagant. Am I using my time wisely or expecting too much from myself and creating frustration and disappointment? I am not alone when I talk to female friends. This habit of overachieving might be a woman thing.

This year, I have extra non-holiday events on my calendar between Thanksgiving and Christmas. My son is getting married, my daughter is graduating from college and I will be traveling overseas for two weeks on a business trip. I need to be fair to myself in my expectations. Otherwise, this happy time could create stressful, regrettable memories.

If you can relate to the added stress of this season, think about what would make it a joyful time for you. What needs to happen (or not happen) for you to consider your holidays a success?

This time of year also is deer hunting season. I picture my husband in the woods, seeking a successful hunt. He needs the right tools and a perfect aim to hit his bulls-eye. What is your bulls-eye?

To maintain sanity this year and to hit my bulls-eye, I am creating two lists: To-do and not-to-do.


The not-to-do list is more difficult for me to create. I need to consider adjusting or skipping some traditions.

Don’t expect to do any decorating on Thanksgiving weekend this year. That weekend is all about my son and his beautiful bride. I’m sure they will have a to-do list for me leading up to their wedding.

Don’t worry about Christmas baking until the week before Christmas, once I have returned home from my trip. We only need to make one batch of our favorite cookies at that time instead of three batches of four types of cookies. (This decision might be a blessing to my health, too.)

Don’t make as many batches of fudge. I like to give gifts to everyone I know. Fudge is a sweet treat to surprise friends. Instead of reducing the list of people to give fudge to, gift smaller containers to each person. One batch will allow me to give to 10 friends instead of only four.

Don’t send out Christmas cards. Instead, send out New Year’s cards. This way, I can include a wedding, graduation and snow-covered puppy picture.


Creating the to-do list requires some creative scheduling. What can I complete before crunch time arrives?

Finish Christmas shopping and wrapping before Thanksgiving.

Start decorating the house the weekend before Thanksgiving. My husband and I need to unload the basement of the decoration boxes before he leaves for his deer hunting weekend. Maybe the kids will want to help.

Mail gifts to far-away friends and family by Dec. 1.

When I think of hitting my bulls-eye, I also want to enjoy some downtime to savor this season. I have three more tasks to add to my to-do list that might seem frivolous. However, they are necessary to create happy memories.

Tune in my radio to Christmas music stations. Play this happy music whenever I am cooking, wrapping and driving. There is never enough time to enjoy these joyful tunes. I must intentionally enjoy these seasonal songs before they get packed away for next year.

Walk the dogs every night in the early evening to enjoy the lights and outdoor decorations in the neighborhood.

Enjoy at least one Hallmark movie each week.

These tasks are the rewards that I can look forward to after a busy day or week.

It is not too late for you to define your holiday season bulls-eye. Create your to-do and not-to-do lists and post them on your refrigerator. Remember to add rewards to your list to create happy memories.

Writing this article has helped me plan. I have numerous Post-it Notes on my desk, organized in date order. It is time to get started so that by Christmas, I am happy with the bullseye that I hit.

Kathie Rotz is an executive leadership coach and speaker with Unity Consulting and the author of “You Have Superpowers” online learning program.

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