8 Tips for a Stress-Free Holiday

Are you ready for the holidays? I know I'm not. No matter how early in the year I start getting ready, I still feel unprepared when Christmas comes around.

Sometimes it feels like the holiday season is somebody's evil plan designed to stress me out. But that's not what this time of year is about! It should be a time of peace, reflection, enjoying family, and having fun. I've come up with a few ideas for making the holidays more enjoyable and less stressful.

1. Cut down. Your December may be filled with family parties, work parties, friend's parties, church activities, shopping sprees, all-out decorating, cookie baking, present wrapping, sending cards, standing in line to see Santa, house cleaning, gift exchanges, ornament exchanges, school performances, traveling, making holiday meals, etc. Can you feel the stress? It stresses me out just to write all that down. Bottom line: You don't have to attend or participate in everything. Cut out the things that don't add value for you and your family.

2. Take time out. You spend a lot of time during the month of December thinking about giving to others and making sure everyone has a good holiday. Don't forget the one person you truly need to care for - you. Give yourself a break and allow for some down time this month. You're going to need it.

3. Cut spending. I know, tis the season to max out the credit card, or so the commercials would lead us to believe. But honestly, most gifts are forgotten within days, and most family and friends appreciate the gift of your time more than a present. A small but thoughtful gift works just as well as going all out, and it's less work not to mention less stressful when you get your credit card bill in January. You want your kids to have a memorable Christmas, but it doesn't take a ton of gifts to provide that for them.

4. Shred the to-do list. Okay, not really. There are going to be some things that you cannot avoid doing. But why add anything to your list that isn't totally necessary? I used to send out Christmas cards, but now I post a message on my blog or send out a holiday email to everyone. That's what works for me. The same goes for you - what can you remove from your to-do's?

5. Give up perfection. We all want to give the perfect gift, make the most delicious eggnog, or be complimented on our perfectly gorgeous Christmas decorating skills, right? You may have a picture in our minds of how the holiday should be, but you need to let that picture go. Things WILL go awry at some point, but if you let go of expectations and just let things be what they are, you will be much more free to enjoy what the holidays have to offer.

6. Smile. Have you spent time in a mall or the (necessary evil) store Wal-Mart on a Saturday in December? Then you know how frustrating it can be, and how desperately everyone around you needs a smile. Don't let yourself get bothered by crowds and lines. Avoid them if you can! But either way, smiling at a stranger can make you feel good and brighten someone else's day.

7. Do a good deed
. Or do several good deeds. Kindness and giving are what make this season so special. Spend a little less money on your family this year and spread the joy by giving to someone else. It doesn't even have to be much. I particularly enjoy the thrill of leaving something on someone's doorstep, ringing the doorbell and then running away before they see who was there.

8. Make time for loved ones. Spending time with family and friends is (usually!) what makes us the most happy at this time of year. I recognize that family time can also be stressful, so just be sure to also take time out for you. It's not going to matter that you attended every party or baked the most cookies. What you'll remember most from the holidays is the time spent with friends and family.

And there you have it. My 8 strategies for surviving the holidays. I hope they help you out. I know I'm going to go cut some things off my to-do list right now!

Happy Holidays!


Megan said...

Thank goodness I'm not the only one who's cut out Christmas cards this year! I've been sending them since I was 16 years old to a list of 30 or more people. It seemed daunting this year, not to mention I was a little bugged by the environmental repercussions...so I decided NOT to send any. Boy does it feel good! (And I'm doing other stuff instead, like taking time to volunteer, etc. It's been a nice switch!)

Holli Jo said...

Megan - Yeah, Christmas cards stress me out. So I don't do them, and I let go of the guilt of NOT doing them.

It does feel good, doesn't it? And it's awesome that you used that extra time to do something for others. Wow.

Gina said...

Great comment about smiling--a simple thing, but it can make SUCH a difference!

Holli Jo said...

Gina - Thanks for commenting! :) I agree - smile makes a huge difference. I know it's nice when some random person smiles at me. (Provided they're not stalking me or something...)