The festive season, despite all its blissful moments, can be a stressful time. The days leading up to Christmas are often a frantic whirlwind. You are desperately trying to buy last-minute presents and put the finishing touches on your holiday decorations.
But it can all be overwhelming if you aren’t managing your stress in a healthy way. Too often this stress can spill over into your relationships and everyday life – and even more so over the festive period.
That’s why we’ve put together 30 tips for a stress-free holiday season!
1. Budgeting for Christmas
Christmas is often a stressful time because of all of the expenses involved, from buying presents and decorations to groceries for the Christmas meal.
Rather than letting it be a surprise at the end of the season, it can be helpful to work out a rough budget and keep track of all your expenses. Try and keep the budget as realistic as possible.
2. Christmas Gift Hacks
Sorting gifts can be a tedious task if you have a big family. It can also be costly. To make things easier for you, consider only buying presents for the children.
You can also choose to donate your time, expertise or experience, whether it’s helping someone complete a task, assisting with their grocery shopping, or accompanying them to a show. Experiences can often be more meaningful than physical gifts.
If your family loves to read, another fun idea is to convince them to pass around books that they have read once. That way, everyone will benefit from each other’s recommendations without spending any money.
3. Shopping for Christmas Presents
Make a list of all the Christmas Gifts you want to buy beforehand. The earlier you do this, the better.
You can save time by shopping online and having the gifts delivered. If you’re going to the mall, download a map or familiarize yourself with the general layout of the stores. Pick your timing wisely so you’ll be able to beat the festive season crowds!
4. The Hidden Cashier
Stores usually have courtesy counters or service desks that are happy to check out your packages.
They are usually placed at the back of the store so you might not even know that they’re there. That’s fine though – as it means nobody else does either and there’ll be a shorter queue.
5. Enjoy Yourself!
Make sure that you aren’t doing anything you strongly dislike. If that’s the case, you can also delegate the task to one of your family members to do it for you (which we’ll explore in more detail below).
Take the time to do the things that matter most to you. After all, the aim is to create minimum stress for you and everyone around you.
6. Be Prepared for the Unexpected Guest
Always buy a few extra small gifts or chocolates for unexpected guests who might come bearing presents or for anyone you may have forgotten.
7. Tips for Gift Wrapping
Don’t bother with the hassle of wrapping each individual gift by yourself.
Rather than wasting your time doing this, you can pay a small fee at the store or online shop to gift wrap the item for you. Better yet, find a charity booth at the mall. It’s a great way to contribute to society and get your chores done at the same time!
If you’d prefer to do it yourself, you can get creative with the wrapping. Save money by wrapping the gifts in old newspaper and colorful ribbons!
8. Keep Your Decor Simple
Save time by sticking to monochrome color schemes for your decorations, or perhaps just choosing two colors, such as red and green.
Don’t overdo it by trying to accomplish an elaborate decor scheme! Simpler is better.
9. DIY Decorations
It’s much more affordable to create your own decorations – and it’s pretty easy to do! You can use anything you can get your hands on, from paper chain bunting to spray-painted pine cones.
Let your children’s imagination run wild by letting them make DIY stockings. Or just simply wrap old books with colorful ribbons and use them to decorate the house.
10. Hoard the Gift-Wrapping Supplies
Even if you’re getting external help with the gift wrapping, always be prepared for an ‘emergency wrapping session’. It happens to the best of us.
Always buy extra gift wrap as you don’t know when you might need it. You can always use it next year.
If you plan well enough in advance, you can buy gift wrap earlier in the year when it’s cheaper (they hike the prices over Christmas!) or wait until it goes on sale after the festive season.
11. Drop the High-Stress Traditions
Traditions are a great way to keep the festive spirit alive. But if traditions become a snooze fest or you have to force your children to take part, it might be time to put them to rest.
Remember, Christmas is more about the quality time spent doing something the whole family enjoys.
12. Important or Urgent?
Manage your time by deciding what’s important or urgent – it’s one of the most challenging tasks during the holidays!
Focus on the important chores and make sure someone else helps you with the urgent ones. You don’t have to answer every phone call or send out every Christmas card yourself if you can get your family to help.
13. There’s No Time to Be a Perfectionist
Christmas doesn’t need to be over the top. It’s who you spend the festive season with that matters, rather than the where’s and the how’s.
You might be tempted to create the perfect decor or plan a day that’s awesome and memorable to one-up your family from last year. But there’s no need to add more stress to your life by trying to accomplish the impossible.
14. It’s Not Just a To-Do List
Christmas is not just about ticking the errands off your list. It’s also a great time to get acquainted with your spiritual side. Aside from all the holiday chores, do something that will make you feel happy, alive, and accomplished.
Volunteer at a homeless shelter or join a church choir. By doing something that’s meaningful, you can get rid of a lot of holiday stress.
15. Stop to Smell the Roses!
The entire holiday season is one marathon of stress. From preparing a huge Christmas dinner to endless gift shopping, it can feel like a never-ending job.
Calming your nerves is crucial to pulling off an event successfully. Invest in bath oil, room spray or pillow spray with some soothing ayurvedic fragrances or a simple lavender scent to help relieve some of the stress instantly.
16. Alternative Gifts
If you’re traveling, you don’t have to stash your bags full of gifts. If you’re flying, increased airport security will mean more time-consuming checks.
Besides, if your gifts put your bag over the weight limit, it’s also going to be costly.
Consider shopping online with companies that can deliver the packages directly to your destination. Alternatively, you can buy virtual gifts, such as gift vouchers that can be used anywhere.
17. Stick With Tried and Tested
If you’re preparing the Christmas dinner this year, stick to the recipes you know and trust.
Unless you have plenty of time to allow for mistakes, Christmas is not the time to take risks!
18. Delegate and Outsource
Don’t take it upon yourself to do everything. Focus on the important tasks yourself and delegate the rest to your friends and family members.
For example, if you’re cooking the main course, you can ask your guests to bring a bowl of vegetables or a dessert. If you’re set on doing it all yourself, you can order pre-made dishes from your favorite shop or deli beforehand.
19. Pack Wisely
If you’re traveling with your children or a big family, you’ll likely have to carry a lot with you.
Keep an overnight bag separate from your main bag, stocked with toiletries, sleepwear and anything you might need when you arrive.
20. Ready, (Jet) Set, Travel!
Going to Grandma’s for Christmas? Book your flight as soon as possible. Need to drive cross country to see your parents? Rent a car as soon as possible.
Booking early avoids seasonal price hikes. Turn up at least three hours before any international flight and two hours before a domestic flight.
Get an Uber or ask someone to drive you to the airport rather than taking your own car. Parking is the last thing you need to worry about before traveling, and the costs add up quickly.
21. Take a Break!
Don’t be involved with the planning every day of the holiday. Keep one day free to focus on something you enjoy – reading a book or just hanging out with friends.
It gives you a chance to catch your breath before you start all over again the next day.
22. Don’t Forget Your Daily Routine
It’s easy to forget what life used to be like before the holiday season. Don’t lose touch of your everyday self.
It’s important to maintain your routine even amidst all the planning to keep yourself calm and centered. That means sticking to your gym routine or getting your nails done if it makes you happy.
23. Be Prepared for the Inevitable
Avoid known stress triggers and set your expectations realistically.
If you know an in-law is famous for bickering, brace yourself for it. They are not going to change themselves suddenly over Christmas.
24. Manage Relationships
Sometimes family dinners can be described as ticking time bombs. Especially during the holidays when everyone comes together and the novelty of seeing each other again wears off.
Avoid subjects that might cause friction at the dining table. These topics could range from politics to religion.
25. Games – Lots of Them!
One great way to keep your guests occupied is by arranging games before or after meals. It could be board games or a family match of softball.
Having something to do is a great way to keep them entertained so you don’t have to. Other games include Secret Santa and Chinese auctions where you can steal other people’s presents.
26. Take a Walk…With Your Dog
If you have a pet, it’s best to tire them out before your guests arrive. No one wants to be greeted by an overzealous barking dog.
Play with your dog or go for a walk. You can get away from all the stress for a bit and it’s a win-win situation for both of you!
27. Or Just Take a Walk Alone
One of the best ways to combat stress is to exercise. Rather than exercising cooped up inside your house, go outside and brave the cold, or hit the gym.
It won’t take long to break a sweat – a 20-minute walk works wonders for releasing endorphins.
28. Avoid Sugar-Filled Stress
We get it – Christmas is all about the treats. But if you’re prone to anxiety or high blood sugar levels, it’s important to enjoy these seasonal sweets responsibly.
We don’t mean cutting them out entirely. Sugar is important for keeping your mood and energy levels up. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat every single mince pie offered to you.
29. Too Much to Do, Too Little Time
It’s quite normal if you want your home to look picture perfect before your guests arrive. But remember, your house is not a showroom.
If anything takes more than 30 minutes to do, cross it off your list. Don’t fall prey to holiday house fever!
Instead, focus on the main things you’re capable of doing quickly and don’t sweat the small stuff.
30. Say no to the Unnecessary
This is the simplest way to manage your stress but it could also be the hardest for anyone who is not accustomed to saying ‘no’ to people.
Keep your circle intimate and focus on creating memories with those closest to you. You don’t have to throw a big bash or say yes to every single event you’re invited to. Especially if you’re busy or you just don’t want to go. What little precious holiday time you have, save it for your loved ones.
The holiday season can be magical. It’s the time of the year to be jolly and bond with your family.
Don’t let the stress of creating a perfect Christmas make you forget what’s important. Take the time to yourself when and where you need it, and learn to say no to things every once in a while.
But most of all, have fun! We wish you a happy and stress-free festive season!