I know a lot of you are the same hyper-driven, classic "Type A" person I am, so I thought I'd better share these rules for having a happy holiday season and ensuring peace and harmony throughout your household (as laid down as law by my own cheery family members).
1) Do not, under any circumstances, delegate buying Christmas gifts for your spouse and/or children to anyone else (even if you've got a huge, super-important project due on December 24th). This is the fast track to family grief, especially when your delegate gets your instructions scrambled, and your usually doting spouse opens a big bottle of perfume or a tie shaped like a fish.
2) Do not forget to buy Christmas gifts for your friends and family because you were too busy shopping for thank-you gifts for clients or putting in a lot of long hours at the store. (It's a myth that the people who love you are the most forgiving, and kids are not as gullible as they used to be; they'll never believe that "Oh, Santa must have missed our house this year" line.)
3) When your family is decorating the Christmas tree together harmoniously, do not say things such as, "Let's cut to the chase here and not bother with all these stupid ornaments", or "Could we speed this up? I have some calls to make". Saying things like this (even if you're thinking them) will immediately turn your happy family into a snarling pack of reindeer.4) When you've been too busy to decorate the house or put up the Christmas lights, and your kind, loving family takes care of this, do not say things such as, "You call that a light show?" or "Who dragged those dead pine branches in here?", or, as I've warned you, your family will turn on you.
5) Treat family-related holiday season events as seriously as business-related crises (as they'll probably resemble crises anyhow). "Forgetting" that you said you were going to cook the Christmas turkey is not going to cut any ice with the 18 hungry people you invited for dinner.
6) If you get stuck preparing the Christmas dinner for the family, do not set your cell phone, PDA, or pager on the same counter as the food you're preparing. Having one of all of these end up stuffed into the turkey because you were busy thinking about your work-related project is very embarrassing (and may be expensive if any of your relatives sue you for the cost of their dental repairs).
7) Do not spring any extra holiday season events on your family members, such as inviting all of your clients over for a Boxing Day brunch and not bothering to tell your family about it, or volunteering your spouse to dress up as a reindeer and perform at a school Christmas concert. Surprises such as these will not make your family members especially cheery.
8) Do not waste time or energy trying to arrange to meet with clients on the 24th, 25th, or 26th. Breathe deeply and realize that other people are actually taking a few days off. This does not make them evil beings. Try to live with the fact that there are so many 'abnormal' people in the world. Try to actually take at least one of these days off yourself. Just to see what it feels like. (Yes; the entire day!)
9) Do not spend Christmas dinner making and taking calls. Do not get up from the table several times during Christmas dinner to check your email, check for incoming faxes, or to drive to your office to pick up papers (even if you think those papers, faxes, and calls are far more important than your relatives).
10) Remember to leave something out for Santa and the real reindeer on Christmas Eve. That way, if you get up to work in the middle of the night, at least you'll have something to snack on!
Merry Christmas and the best of the season from me and my little family to you and yours!