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Three Steps to Avoid Holiday Regrets

Holiday Regrets–We’ve All Got Them

holiday regrets, christmas disappointmentNo one wants holiday regrets, that’s for sure.

As we all know, the holiday season is loaded with huge significance and tradition, no matter your background.

If you celebrate the holiday yourself, your family probably does things a certain way.

And if you don’t celebrate the particular holiday, you may also have traditions of what to do on statutory holidays while there’s less traffic and fewer people out and about. Love when there’s no lines at the movie theater!

But… I’m NOT talking about this type of thing.

I’m talking about the feelings that can ruin your holiday.

Like disappointment.

Feeling overwhelm.


Lots of stress. Especially for moms who are typically busy with the majority of the preparations, cooking, baking, decorating and shopping.

What does regret-proofing mean?

My definition of “regret-proofing” is:

making sure you don’t have regrets about what you DID or DIDN’T DO, SAY or DIDN’T SAY, TRY or DIDN’T TRY, or CHANGE OR DIDN’T CHANGE.

I love this term because it easily applies to so many important experiences, phases, transitions and milestones in your life.

You can regret-proof your career.
You can regret-proof your relationships.
You can regret-proof yourself.
You can regret-proof your life.
AND you can regret-proof your holidays!

It doesn’t matter which holiday it is or which religion you practice. It could be a civic holiday like July 4th or Thanksgiving. It could be a religious holiday like Christmas or Hanukkah. The point is that it’s a FAMILY holiday and you will be inviting loved ones to celebrate together.

When it comes to regret-proofing your holidays, there’s a lot to consider. Yes, of course there’s reflection, prayer, family, travel, and amazing festive meals. There’s also quirky family traditions, which are the BEST!

It’s no surprise that there’s also a ton to do, cook and plan.

This list is especially long for MOMS.

Based on anecdotal evidence, here’s what I see and hear as some of the major stress points. Moms are worried about things like this:

I have nothing to wear.

The kids have nothing to wear.

The kids won’t behave.

The holiday season will cost too much money.

All of the travel plans will be a mess somehow – weather, delays.

I’m worried about safety with all of the planes, trains and automobiles.

I’m worried about difficult interactions with loved ones and friends.

I have too much to do.

How can I make this holiday more meaningful?

I won’t be able to relax.

The food won’t be good.

There won’t be not enough food.

My loved ones who lost someone recently may feel alone and sad during the holiday season.

Someone will drink too much and cause a problem.

I’ll be exhausted because of the amount of cooking and prep.

and more …

For sure, there’s a lot that goes in to making a warm and wonderful holiday experience for your family. Of course you want everything to go smoothly, for the food food to be delicious and the kids to be delightfully charming.

If you felt appreciated for all of your effort to make things so wonderful for your family? Even better!

However, there’s a chance that there will be some glitches of course.

You will most likely spend more money than you anticipated.

The grocery store could run out pie, or another key ingredient for something you’re making.

The turkey could be dry.

Your adorable kids could sneak and eat all the cookies before you had a chance to put them out.

Someone will have an argument that you will be drawn into.

You could forget the cranberry sauce. Or run out of milk.

For sure there will be red wine staining your tablecloth.

The kids could go wild.

Because you’re organized, and started cooking way in advance, you could actually be more tired from stretching out all of the preparation over a longer time period.

So how do you go about regret-proofing?

One thought at a time.

I know you’re already a great planner. Seriously – look what you manage to do on a regular basis. I’m pretty sure your thoughts can use some work though.

Thoughts create feelings.

You can actually decide how you want to feel during the holidays and create that feeling with your thoughts. This is possible because thoughts are optional.

Thoughts are just sentences in your mind. They aren’t facts. They are thoughts about facts.What you end up DOING is always based on how you feel. The outcome, or results that you create with your actions will prove your thoughts … every time.

Where’s the mindfulness part of this whole thing?

Even with no pie, the wild kids and the dry turkey, you get to decide how you want to feel because you can decide how you want to think.

When you give this consideration in advance, you have a head start. YOU get to decide how you want to feel, in advance, on purpose. It can be an intentional thing.

Three Steps To Regret-proofing Your Holiday Season

First, ask yourself, “how do I want to feel during this holiday?”

Feelings don’t just float around willy nilly. How you’re going to feel isn’t up to chance.

If you don’t decide ahead of time, there’s a possibility old habits will kick in and you will disconnect and react to something on autopilot.

Second, close your eyes and imagine that feeling.

Ask yourself, “what would I have to think to create this feeling?”

The idea is that if you’re clear about how you want to feel, then you can also be clear about what you have to think to create that feeling. Feelings come from thoughts.

For example, let’s say you wanted to feel relaxed. You love feeling that way when you’re surrounded by family and friends. You know that worrying about the food doesn’t make you feel relaxed. Thinking that you can’t relax doesn’t help either. But when you think, “I love having time to spend with my family,” you feel relaxed. So that’s your go-to thought.

Third, remind yourself to practice your intentional thought.

When you catch yourself feeling riled up about the kids goofing off, remember to think this thought.

When your mother-in-law says something about your meal that rubs you the wrong way, remember this thought.

When your kids run from the table to watch football without taking their plates to the dishwasher, remember this thought.

It’s a simple strategy for avoiding holiday regrets, but it works.

As a life coach, I love helping my clients learn more about mindfulness. For more regret-proofing, get my free download, 10 Simple Ways to Bust Out of Your Midlife Funk! This simple “dream igniter” will get you on your way! Let’s work on this stuff together.

Happy holidays, whatever they are!

Originally published on Suzy’s Empty Nest Blog, 2016.

Suzy Rosenstein

Suzy is a Master Coach Certified Life Coach and holds a Masters Degree in Applied Social Psychology. As someone who wasted too many years feeling stuck herself, she loves helping people make sure they don't have regrets. She helps them get clear about what they want, start taking action and create a life they can get excited about. When not working with clients or engaging in particularly humorous dialogue with her three teenage sons, Suzy enjoys her slobbery Newf and talking parrot, whale watching, photography and practicing the art of living without regrets.