With a little planning you can have a fairly stress free holiday season
Halloween is over and it’s time to plan for the next three big holidays. My local variety store already has the Christmas decorations isle set up and ready to go. I used to have a rule that we wouldn’t start planning for Christmas before Thanksgiving, but this year I’m reconsidering. My goal is to be mostly ready by December 1st so I can relieve some of the stress that comes with the season.
We all have a most stressful holiday from the past, don’t we? I think mine would be at my mom’s house about seven years ago. Imagine 14 people in a two bedroom condo. Small kitchen – overcrowding. You get the idea. Once the oven got cranked up, we were all roasting – right along with the turkey.
As the crazy holidays begin, take a day for yourself and put a few of these stress busting ideas into play. You’ll be glad you did!
1. Identify and eliminate the most stressful thing – Think back to last year, what was the most stressful part of the holidays? That’s where you are going to concentrate first. Maybe it’s your job to have all the family over to your house for a big dinner. How can you cut back on the responsibilities this year? Consider making this meal a pot luck dinner or using paper plates instead of the china. Even small things will add up to less stress.2. Are your expectations too high? We’d all like to plan the perfect gathering, full of beautiful decorations and scrumptious food, fit for a Better Homes & Gardens issue. Maybe you need to let go of some unrealistic expectations this year. If you can’t cut back, then break it down into smaller pieces and take a little at a time.
Plan, Plan, Plan
3. I’m all about setting monthly budgets. In general, they really lower my stress level. A realistic holiday budget will achieve the same thing for you. Each holiday – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s needs its own budget. Once the budget is set, get your money – in cash -and place it in an envelope. To keep on budget, take it with you when you shop .
4. Write out a schedule. That’s much easier said than done, especially for those of us who tend to procrastinate. However, planning ahead and writing out a schedule leading up to the holidays are essential to stress free days.
5. Do your shopping early and take advantage of sales. Now is the time to get great bargains on baking supplies. Cook ahead and freeze what you can. Use that schedule to your advantage and prepare as much as you can in advance.
6. Delegation is your friend! Get help with the shopping and decorating. Husbands, kids, and other family members need to be part of your plan.
7. Have you ever found yourself wrapping presents the night before Christmas? Take time to wrap as you purchase each gift and avoid the last minute crunch. Better yet, have it wrapped at the store. Many retailers are wrapping for free these days as a bonus to their customers. You won’t know if you don’t ask.
Don’t forget to take care of yourself
8. Slow down! If you find yourself running around like a chicken with your head cut off, simply stop. It’s okay to take a break, take a breath, and regain focus.
9. Enjoy the ride. The holidays are ultimately about enjoying yourself. Listen to music appropriate to the day. It could be peaceful music to help you relax or your favorite tune to help get you moving while wrapping gifts; music is therapy. So is laughter. A good laugh lowers cortisol and boosts endorphins.
10. Keep your daily rituals. If you always read or meditate each morning, don’t skip these soothing rituals just because you have extra on your plate.
Stress free holidays may seem unobtainable to you right now, but these 10 simple tips will help you keep your sanity this holiday season. Give a few of them a try. Be sure and join us for other Prepared for the Holidays posts. How do you relieve holiday stress?