In my recent post, I shared my ongoing holiday stress about striving for perfection instead of welcoming progress. I’ve been hard at work on this goal these past days and, cliché aside I seem to be making some progress.
The nutcrackers are now unboxed and standing at attention. The reindeer are finally standing guard on the stairs, emblazoned with twinkle lights that actually work. A few of them even retained the glitter snowflakes I found on clearance last season before the reindeer returned to their summer post, snoozing in the plastic bin in the garage. Somehow, I had the foresight to put on those glitter flakes then as part of tear down. Brilliant, I think now. Here’s another example of progress: Not all reindeer had snowflakes, and guess what? I moved right on. I’m fairly convinced that only I will notice the snowflakes at all.
As you can see from this photo, cardboard snowflakes and glitter leaves still rest on the step to add even more bling to the setting. In the spirit of progress, that pile will sit exactly where it is until I have a moment to incorporate these last details. I even have a back-up plan. If I don’t happen to get to this task, I’ll simply scoop them up and tuck them in the closet until the bins come out when it is time to deconstruct.
Perfection Costs More than Progress
One factor that seems to be working in my favor in terms of reaching for progress, not perfection, is more limited cash flow. The company is still in start-up mode and as an entrepreneur it is likely I’ll always have something in start-up mode. That means that my personal budget is skinnier than I might like for things like parties. Still determined to have this festive gathering, I decided to opt for a potluck approach, and it’s going well so far.
The budgetary benefits seem to be the bonus; the real plus is that guests seem excited to be part of it all. We’re chatting, planning, considering, and even communicating in an organized way about the menu. Of course, as the hostess (with the “moistest leftovers”), I’ll fill in whatever’s missing according to my own definition of having enough food. It is a huge help and delight to be doing this event with friends and family. That’s progress.
It’s How Much? And THEN I Have to Make Them?
Being in start-up mode is really different than it was with my last company, which was “quite up” for many years. While I continue to be ridiculously pressed for time, I now choose to invest in the business instead of using dollars to save minutes as I used to do. In the past, I’d have simply ordered the desserts from an array of proven and favorite bakeries. Now I’m much more thoughtful about and resistant to the idea of spending $1.79 per cookie.
I do have a reputation to maintain, however. Parties at our home are known for their desserts. So, while I listed five appetizers, main courses, sides, and snacks on the potluck list, I also listed 15 desserts—in order to maintain my “sweet tooth rep,” of course. So far, we have 4 of the 15. Again, this is progress. Just FYI, no one questioned the tripling of the dessert quantity either. This is a definite benefit of inviting family and friends; they know what to expect.
It’s Not About the Cookie
Late last night, my creative juices kicked into high gear when I spotted an ugly sweater cookie kit online. What a giggle it gave me. I stopped laughing when I realized it was $20 for 10 cookies. There was no way I would spend $120 to make 60 cookies. Actually, it would be $120 plus hours and hours of time. There were kits, after all, not completed cookies. I liked the concept though so I decided to value engineer it.
After poking around on Amazon, I actually found a cookie cutter in the shape of a sweater. (Amazon does sell most everything!) I went to the kitchen and scrounged around in my sprinkles boxes. (Yes, I readily admit that I have sprinkles organized in boxes, and yes, that is plural. As a designer, I tend to collect a lot of sprinkles.)
I quickly realized that my drive to save money had to also save some time. There’s no way in my search for progress that I can create 60 ugly sweater cookies without striving for perfection. (OK, Randi. Let’s think about that. They are ugly sweaters! By their very nature they can be ugly, right? What is perfect about an ugly sweater? Doesn’t imperfect icing and less-than-perfectly–placed sprinkles simply make them even more ugly?) Nice try, but I can totally see myself awake until the wee hours, carefully trying to make the sweaters “perfectly” ugly!
I couldn’t shake the idea, so I used my creativity again and decided that I’d go for progress here, too. I ordered the $4.33 cookie cutter. In advance of the party, we’ll make those mix bags of sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies. I’ll set up a table complete with icing and all of the sprinkles and invite our guests to decorate their own ugly sweater cookies. I even have a guest in mind to act as judge. Yes, you guessed it—the winner will get an authentic ugly sweater! What fun!
I never would have gotten to this solution had it not been for my desire to save time and money, going for progress, not perfection. There’s another plus. A few guests have allergies. By making using trusted cookie recipes, I’m sure everyone can eat their creations—after the photo shoot, of course!
The Tree, Part 1
During the first official snowfall of the season on Sunday, just as it was getting dark, my family was finally able to wedge into our weekend schedule purchasing the tree. One silly snowball fight later in the tree lot, the tree was chosen, purchased, and placed on top of the car. Home we went in total darkness by this point. I had the ornament bins stacked and ready. The plan had been to get the tree and decorate it right away. Once we hit Monday morning in our house, we can’t do this sort of thing until the next weekend rolls around and we are fast running out of rolling weekends.
Decorating was going to be completed before lights out—until the snow changed that plan. It was clearly time for more progress instead of perfection. The tree was covered in snow and literally soaked. It had to sit and dry out for at least two days. So, we are waiting and will begin to decorate gradually, a few ornaments each evening I hope. The bins and lights are at the ready and so am I.
I realize with this ongoing effort of mine towards progress and not perfection that I’m actually enjoying this season more than I have in recent years. Yes, I realize there are only so many shopping days left, only so many wrapping nights left, and only so many menu items in the freezer. I also realize that all of this is OK. Somehow, it will all get done—progressively, I hope.
As you incorporate progress instead of perfection this holiday season, I hope you’ll share some of your ideas below. Ugly sweater, anyone?