Do You Have Pre-Holiday Syndrome?

Have the upcoming holidays already got your panic buttons going?

Do you feel lost and don’t know where to start first?

This time of year always reminds me of the quote from the movie “Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory” where Willy Wonka says;  

“So much time, and so little to do!  Strike that, reverse it.”

If you’re getting stressed out about the holidays weeks and even months before they arrive, you could be suffering from what I call Pre-Holiday Syndrome.  This is where you’re expectations are influenced by others, especially the media, on what your holiday should be like.

Well, the media doesn’t live in your home!  They don’t know the personalities of your family members nor do they know your financial situation.  Don’t measure your expectations against their unrealistic ones.

Below are six questions to help you identify if you have Pre-Holiday Syndrome.  After that are some of the symptoms and possible cures.  Once you recognize what is going on you can make changes to help you celebrate the holidays on your own terms.

Test Questions

1.   Do you think your holidays/Christmas this year will be absolutely wonderful?

2.   Do you have more than three holiday shopping lists in your purse or pocket?

3.   Do you usually mail off your gift packages too late to arrive by Christmas?

4.   Do you feel like you never give (or spend) enough on the gifts you buy?

5.   Do you usually get sick or injured at holiday time?

6.   Do you ever feel like giving up the holidays altogether?


Here are some symptoms and possible cures.  Read through them to see if you are experiencing any of the symptons.  If you have “cured” some of these problems with actions other than those listed, please share them in the comment section. Thanks.


1.   Television and other media influence holiday dreams.

a.)  Ideal Picture

  1. Blissful, happy families.
  2. Neat, cheerful, and perfectly decorated homes.
  3. Time honored rituals.

b.)  Reality

  1. Rarely is everyone completely happy at the same time.
  2. With the change of routines it’s hard to keep the house looking perfect.
  3. Times change, people change.  Sometimes rituals are outdated.

c.)   THE CURE

  1. Lower your expectations on what you think your holiday should ‘look’ like.
  2. Focus on spending time with family and friends instead of spending time on trying to make the ‘perfect’ Christmas.
  3. Be thankful for whatever happy moments do occur. You don’t want to miss them.


2. Too much to do.

a.)  Lists upon lists upon lists.

b.) THE CURE: Lighten the load.

  1. Make one grand list of everything then cross out half.
  2. Prioritize your list so you get the important things done first.  It you have time for things lower on the list then do them. If not, don’t worry about them.


3.  Pocketbook panic.

a.)  Not making a budget or sticking with the one you made.

b.)  Charging everything and not keeping track.

c.)  THE CURE:

  1. Realize what is happening. Be realistic about what you can afford to spend.
  2. Talk to family and/or friends about adopting new gift giving traditions.
  • Children – explain budget (if old enough) and plan requests for gifts/toys accordingly.
  • Friends and/or family – agree to cut out gift giving or have a spending limit.
  • Draw names to limit the total number of people you have to buy gifts for.


4. Illness and Exhaustion.

a.) Causes:

  1. Doing too much by yourself.
  2. Feeling guilty that whatever you do isn’t enough.
  3. Feeling angry about the pressure to be happy on cue.
  4. Staying up late or getting up early to get things done.
  5. Filling our regular times set aside for rest and leisure activities with                                   stressful holiday activities that are suppose to be fun, but aren’t.


  1. Realize pressures may distract us from normal routines of healthful                                   eating, exercise, rest, relaxation, and sleep. Try to balance it.
  2. Think in small time periods; instead of; “in January I’ll get myself back                             together”, say; “I will take 30 minutes (set a timer) each day to keep myself together.”
  3. It’s okay to enjoy the times when nothing is happening.  Don’t over commit or                 over-scheduled.


5. Missing the point.


  1. Get a better perspective on the real meaning of the holidays.
  2. It’s not about having the best decorated house or giving the most gifts.
  3. Think about what is really is important to your family, your religion, and your community.


Don’t let the idea of having a “prefect” holiday ruin all the fun!  Sit down with your family and decide together what’s important and what isn’t.

If they think a certain tradition is important them but you dread it, then give them the responsibility to help with it.

If they are old enough to decide what is important to them, they are old enough to help or even take on the full responsibility. This may include decorating, baking/cooking, and maybe even some of the shopping.

If you have any questions regarding any of the symptoms or cures above please let me know in the comment section.

To a lighter load along the way.