It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also one of the most stressful.
With the pressure to give the right gifts, host the best dinner or meet the many social obligations for you and the kids, the holidays can bring on more than its fair share of anxiety and turn you into a Grinch in no time.
Want to keep stress at bay and stay holly jolly? Use these six tips to prepare for the holidays:
Make A Budgeted List
One way to manage your stress is to get organized.
Start by picking an app or simple spreadsheet to help you organize your gift list.
Be realistic when buying your children gifts, as you know full well they will be receiving plenty of gifts from their doting grandparents, aunts and uncles. Just get one big ticket item with a few smaller ones for guaranteed happy campers.
Try to populate your gift and card lists before Thanksgiving, that way you can take full advantage of Black Friday and holiday sales.
Coordinate A Potluck
Hosting the big holiday dinner?
Instead of running yourself ragged trying to single-handedly prepare a feast for the family, make it a group effort by coordinating a potluck.
As tempting as it may sound, you probably don’t want to end up with a turkey and ten batches of sugar cookies.
To avoid a lopsided menu or duplicate dishes, communicate via a group email or ask each guest to pick a dish category.
It’s usually easiest for the host to tackle the turkey while guests choose from:
- Cookies or bar desserts
- Hot vegetable dishes
- Potato dishes
- Bread or rolls
Don’t forget to factor in those yearly staples, like Grandma’s mac and cheese or Uncle Ted’s spiced wine.
Plan To Clean Wisely
Time tends to disappear around the holidays. It may sound crazy to suggest you clean every day, but this strategy will save you time and stress in the long run.
Common quick tasks include:
- Opening, sorting and recycling mail
- Making the bed
- Wiping up spills
- Washing dishes
- Doing an end-of-day tidy up
Tackled as they come, these tasks are easy and quickly resolved. Allowed to accumulate, they can turn into an entire day’s headache work.
Whether you’re hosting the big dinner or just planning to open gifts with visiting relatives, get smart about how you clean. Keep dirt at bay by keeping up with a weekly cleaning schedule — dusting, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom, vacuuming, laundry.
It makes it less likely you will need to take a whole weekend to frantically deep clean your home.
This way, you’ll only need to budget extra time for holiday specific tasks — like washing and ironing table linens — and maybe half an hour for a last minute vacuum and bathroom refresh before your guests arrive.
Invest In Yourself
Stress can feel bigger and hit harder if you’re not taking care of yourself.
Making yourself a priority doesn’t have to be complicated or add to your stress. In fact, simple, common sense self-care actions like eating a healthy and varied diet, drinking lots of water, getting daily exercise and making time for yourself can have a significant, positive impact.
To help you eat healthy in the holiday rush, brainstorm a month-of-December meal list. Using that, you can:
- Make and freeze batches of muffins or other pre-portioned breakfasts.
- Pick a lunch-of-the-week that you’ll make on the weekend and take to work.
- Keep your pantry stocked with the staples you need for your favorite easy-to-make dinners.
Think of ways you can get some exercise and a little personal time each day. Take a walk around your neighborhood to enjoy everyone’s holiday decor.
Set aside ten minutes to savor your favorite cuppa or cozy up with a book before bed.
Give Yourself Permission To Say No
Saying yes to every holiday party, gift exchange, request to use your guest room, invitations to travel or plea for your time will run you down and ragged.
Give yourself room to breathe and the freedom to enjoy the season by giving yourself permission to say no.
Worried your “no” will offend? Adapt one of these guilt-free strategies to turn down requests diplomatically but firmly.
Learn Calming Techniques
Despite best efforts to prevent it, some stress will still sneak in. That’s why it’s a good idea to have some go-to relaxation techniques at your disposal.
Stress-busters can be as simple as breathing deeply, meditating or reaching out to someone in your support network.
Maybe even just taking a shower with the door locked so no one can bother you for a sweet 15-minute vacation.
A little planning, some organizing and a commitment to caring for yourself can go a long way toward making the holidays more joyful and less stressful.
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