Between the twinkling lights, yummy seasonal treats, and hilarious ugly holiday sweaters, it is so easy to catch yourself changing the classic lyrics Tis’ the season to be jolly, to Tis’ the season to be stressed. It is the time of year that can bring such joy and create wonderful memories. But, it is also the time of year that can feel like your to-do list is endless, your bank account is screaming, and you have the heavy desire to just fast forward to New Year’s Day.
This holiday season, join me in a vow to keep stress far away from the most wonderful time of the year. Here are some small ways to ward off all of the tiny stresses that can easily snowball into a very hectic time of year.
1. Space out your holiday shopping
For all of my fellow procrastinators, this is the true dreaded deadline of the year. It is very easy to push this great task of holiday shopping to the last minute. As soon as you can stomach the idea of holiday planning, start by writing out the gifts you will need to pick up in the next few weeks. Take out your calendar and actually write in deadlines for shopping. Can some of these tasks be accomplished online? How soon would items be shipped to you? Are there hours you’ll need to work around to make it into your favorite boutique before it closes? All of these details can definitely factor in some added stress and simply take away the fun of shopping for your loved ones. Write it all out and create the simplest game plan for streamlining your shopping experience this year.
2. Make alternate gift plans
If a long-running list of gifts seems to be adding far too much mental and financial stress, consider altering your way of giving this year. Discuss with your loved ones if this is may be a no-gift holiday season, or a handmade-gift-only holiday. Is there a charity that you and your friends or family would want to join together to donate to in lieu of tangible gifts? There is no shame in any of these options (and plenty of benefits if you’re giving to those who need it). The holidays should be about spreading cheer and love with those around you. Simple as that.
3. Pencil in your must-dos
We all know how long the to-do list can feel during these coming weeks. The cookies that should be decorated, the office parties that need to be attended, the halls that wish to be decked. It truly is never ending. Rather than let it all float over you as a burden until Santa is coming and you haven’t accomplished any of the festive prep you wanted to, choose the to-dos that bring you the most joy and tackle them one at a time.
Maybe try setting aside a couple of hours every Saturday afternoon leading up to the holidays to get your festive fix in. It doesn’t all have to be done in one day. Spread it out where you can actually enjoy the holiday cheer and not feel like you just need to get through it.
4. Soak up some festive holiday time
Don’t forget to give yourself some down time to reset in the midst of all of the holly jolly action. Take a slow morning to bake up your favorite holiday sweet treat. Binge watch your favorite Christmas rom-coms. Put on those fuzzy socks with the reindeer on them and sip on some hot cocoa while listening to your favorite holiday tunes. Take advantage of any calm moments you can get and use it as a chance to recharge while keeping your holiday vibe going.
5. Book travel tickets asap
A sure-fire way to add some extra stress to your holiday season is by waiting until the last minute to book flights or hotel rooms. We all know that those plane tickets are only going to get more expensive the closer those travel dates approach. Take a moment to plan out the least expensive travel dates, book any hotel rooms you might need to reserve, and get all of your travel plans solidified before prices creep up on you.
6. Put thought into your own wishlist
It is so easy to brush off the question with a simple answer of, “Oh, I don’t need anything” when asked what you would like for the holidays. Help yourself out a little this season and truly think of some things that would relieve some stress from your life. If you have some people in your life that are being gracious enough to give you a little something, try to make it something you know you will use and will make your life better. Have you been in need of some durable pots and pans? Maybe there is an upcoming event that you would love to attend, but it would really put a hole in your wallet. Or, if you are like me, a check with even a few dollars to put towards rent, monthly transit, or any other bummer expenses that always seem to arise can oftentimes be the most useful thing in my stocking on Christmas morning.
7. Be OK with saying “no”
We all can’t seem to escape the pressure of needing to get everything done, go to every holiday event, and wrap everything up with a perfect bow. Try to allow yourself to simply take some things off of your plate to eliminate some added stress. If there is a holiday party with coworkers you may not be too close with, remind yourself that it’s OK to take a rain check this time and catch them at the next one. Can’t find the time or money to even get any gifts wrapped this year? Be kind to yourself and give the gift to your loved one as is. In most cases, they will still feel loved and appreciated, even if they have to close their eyes while you hand them the gift. Try your best to not let the tiny details of this time of year build into something you can’t manage any longer.
8. Create new traditions
Are there new ways of doing the holidays that you can begin to incorporate this year? Maybe it’s doing gift exchanges with your friends Secret Santa style. (This limits your gift buying count to just one thoughtful or funny gift!). Convince your family to just use fun selfies that show off your personalities for the family holiday card this year. This could be the year that you and your partner spend the holidays together building new traditions for the future holidays to come. You are in control of your future traditions. Start this year by making them exactly how you want them.
9. Opt for a holiday getaway
If you can’t possibly convince yourself to delve into the traditional holiday must-dos this year, step away and vacay. Collaborate with your family or loved ones to put any holiday funds towards a trip that’s always been on your bucket list. Beat the winter blues and head somewhere tropical. Get cozy at a cabin in the mountains. Sometimes getting away and breaking from the normal holiday grind can be the perfect way to bond and reset with your loved ones.
10. Surround yourself with your people
At the end of the day, the holidays should be spent with those that you love and care about most. Choose who you wish to surround yourself with this year. If your friends are feeling the most like home to you, make those plans. Invite in-laws, friends with no holiday plans, and significant others to your home for a special day. You are in control of who you surround yourself with. Involve the people that love you dearly and will not bring any additional stress to the holiday table.