Holiday Triage

By Kevin Gibbons

Christmas is just two weeks away and New Year’s Eve is right behind it.

All of your carefully orchestrated plans for the perfect holiday are coming together and once again, everyone is going to have a joyous celebration at your house, with every last detail complete and executed according to the Master Schedule you put together back in November. If this describes your future, then congratulations. I wish you all the just accolades and I promise not to feel the least bit jealous or resentful. If, however, you are like me and most of my friends, now is the time to perform Holiday Triage!

This is the week that I look at the waning days of the calendar and wonder what I was thinking when I planned that elaborate masquerade party for New Year’s Eve, fully knowing I had solid commitments the entire two previous weeks.

We all make ambitious plans for our holiday celebrations. If we plan well and execute, we should be able to meet those plans and have impressive, enjoyable holidays. But sometimes our planning is ambitious, circumstances change, unexpected fires rage through our state, or things just don’t go as planned. That is when you have to remember what is really important about the holidays and know how to cut your losses.

Is staying up all night to prepare a signature side dish really more important than being awake and cheerful for the actual festivities? Do you really need hand-cut place-settings for the table? While it may be justified to pull an “all-nighter” to assemble your child’s first bicycle, your spouse will probably understand if their crafted gift is given as a “work-in-progress,” that will be completed within three days, especially if the alternative is you being frazzled, cranky and personally dissatisfied with your rushed results.

So, take a look at the remaining items on your Holiday To-Do list. Make a hard, honest assessment about how long it will take to complete each item. Ask yourself what will happen if 1) it is not completed; or 2) it is completed, but as a result, you miss the event. What will people care about more? Then determine how much time you have left to dedicate to preparing for the holidays. This means setting aside time for work, feeding and caring for your family, sleeping, and allowing some mental health time for yourself. Once you know your available time, and the time needed to complete each task, start prioritizing. Anything that does not fit in the available time is not going to get done. Accept that, notify concerned parties and move on.

Ultimately, this holiday season is about spending time with the people you love, sharing warmth and company. People may be disappointed that you are not serving your famous 23-hour lamb roast, but they will be happy to eat the savory roast beef knowing that you are there, alert, cheerful and participating in the festivities with them.

As for my New Year’s Party? This year, my friends are “playing it by ear,” and either celebrating at home or agreeing on a very low-key no-prep get-together. Most importantly, we all subscribe to the idea that being together with whatever food and drink we may have is the true essence of the celebration.


Kevin Gibbons is the Vice President of The Savvy Life and co-author of the international bestseller Living The Savvy Life. For the past eight years, Kevin and Savvy Life Founder Melissa Tosetti have worked with over 545 individuals and families to create Spending Plans.

Melissa and Kevin also work with financial advisors and their clients doing cash flow planning as well as giving over 200 Savvy Living presentations via webinar and in-person to audiences across the U.S.

If you’d like to learn more about how Melissa and Kevin work with clients visit The Savvy Life’s Programs page.

If you’d like to learn more about how Melissa and Kevin work with financial advisors and their clients visit: The Savvy Life Advisor’s Page