By Carolyn Strauss


As women, we take the “pleasing” and caretaking of our families and loved ones very seriously.  In fact, it is an instinctual response for us to NEED to please those around us.  Any time you are feeling tension or stress in your body, ask yourself, am I really stressed or is it my “installed programing” that is causing this.

To get beyond any stress for the holidays, realize that the stress you are feeling is perhaps not yours, it’s years of pre-programmed response.  There are ways through this.  First,  BREATHE, deep and slowly.  Then try these ideas below and see how it works…. for a change!

Set the stage: First decide who your family is this season. What kind of energy you will have in your home when people come to visit? Choose three words to describe your family this season, post them in your home…even put them on your refrigerator for everyone to see each day, and you’ll be amazed at how those adjectives show up each day during this holiday season. Some adjective ideas: peaceful, joyous, excited, grateful, interesting, interested, funny, playful, intriguing.

Set the intention: Create a sign-in board/ poster for everyone who comes to your home this season. On the top of the board write something like: “The Best Thing That Happened to me between 2000 and 2010”. Keep it next to the front door; Invite everyone that comes in to sign it. This then becomes an incredible energy booster for now, and a family memento from this holiday season.

Create moments: Have each member of your family choose one thing every day, first thing in the morning that will happen before the end of the day that will make them happy and be good for them. Let everyone participate in being sure that happens for that family member.

The Visuals: Decorate your home with the ornaments, candles, pictures, lights, trees, anything that mean something to you. As you are decorating your home, when you pull out your decorations, ask yourself if it still fits who you are, or works with your family. If it no longer applies, put it in a box and donate to charity. This holiday will be set with intention and also, by donating, brings joy to others.

Participation: Ask the people that come to your home for the holidays to participate. First they will participate by signing in on your “best of the decade board”. Next have everyone bring something to your home. If you are the kind of person who wants to control and do everything, try to let that go and see what comes! When people are allowed to bring things and participate, they are more invested in the outcome of everyone having a good time.

Music: Surround yourself with sounds of the season that make you happy. Music is the soundtrack of our lives. Set up your music system in your home to play music that sets the mood for whatever you intend to have happened during that time.

Smells: Scent is the most powerful memory inducer for human beings. As often as possible, through either the use of candles, baking, (which it also works with cookies from a package in the refrigerator section at the supermarket) room sprays or potpourri, surround yourself in your home with smells that make you happy. This is a low cost way to boost the mood of everyone in your home

Gifts: Decide this year what’s important to you as a family in terms of gift giving. One of my favorite families, (my god family, who as a child I spent Christmas with every year) always set a price limit to what it they would spend on each member of the family. The challenge with that is that sometimes you want to get someone something that costs more than the budget. I know it’s unromantic, but you might want to ask the people in your world what they want for the holidays. If it’s something big, everyone can go in on it together. If someone says they want nothing, ask again, and then believe them. One of the best gifts you can give anyone is your love, support and appreciation for everything they have done for you.

Appreciation: Make a list of all of the things that someone has provided for you in your world, and put that on a holiday card. Let people know that their time and attention is appreciated.

The People: Invite people to your home whom you like. Have each member of your family make a list of all of the people that have been most supportive and loving over the past year. Compare that list to a list of the people that are most important to them to have in their world next year. First, invite those people who are on both lists, and then use the holidays as an opportunity to spend time with those who are worthy of your time and attention. When people know they are there because they are wanted, and not by obligation, everyone wins.

Turn your holiday “have to’s” into holiday “get to’s”, as in, “I get to have the holiday season that works in my world”.  And remember, you can always change it up again next year.  No worries!


Carolyn Strauss is a communication expert specializing in gender differences and presentation skills. She is an accomplished keynote speaker, on  communication strategies that create optimal results both in business and interpersonally.  She is a published author and television personality.   As the CEO, spokesperson and designer of the Carolyn Strauss Collection featured on the Home Shopping Network she draws on over 25 years experience as a business owner, entrepreneur, fashion and communication expert.  Contact Carolyn at or (213) 291-1896