It’s the holiday season, and unless you’re one of those people who does all their shopping in July and has their home decorated before Thanksgiving, it’s the season of stress. Work can pile on too, as businesses try to make their budgets by the end of the year, leaving workers feeling more anxious. Here’s one thing we know. The holiday season happens every year. That’s why we can learn how to make the season easier with each passing year. Here are five ways to lower your holiday stress.
1. Set a budget
Limit your spending to a stress-free amount by making a list of everyone on your giving list. Assign how much you’ll spend on each person. Decide what the maximum amount is for all your gifts. Only spend the total amount that you can pay immediately or pay off by the end of January. If you can’t pay it off by then, you’re spending too much. You do not need the stress of paying off holiday gifts for the first six months of the year.
Take your list with you when you shop. As you shop, note the actual amount spent on each purchase. Keep a running tally so you don’t go over your budget.
2. Shop online first
It’s a wonderful thing. You can buy virtually anything on Amazon. This is one place where Amazon prime really pays off. Your favorite stores will have robust shopping sites. Use them. Why stress out finding parking and battling crowds when you can just press a button? There may be places you still want to go to see the merchandise, ask questions, or just be immersed in the season. Just check first to see if you can get it online. Online shopping is a wonderful time saver, and you might get a better deal too.
3. Create timelines
If you’re cooking or entertaining, make a detailed schedule of what needs to be done at specific times. This is especially useful when cooking a big meal. Determine when each dish needs to go in the oven. Do everything you can early or the day before to eliminate a last-minute panic. Setting the table or putting out decorations are things you might be able knock off early. Print out the timeline and put it in a visible place so you can check things off as you go.
Later make notes on what worked well or what you’d do differently for next time. You’ll be glad you did this!
4. Consider a Facebook holiday greeting
Have you sent out your holiday cards yet? Social media has us connected year-round with the people we care about. The role of the holiday greeting card has become diminished as we share a steady stream of our moments all year. If getting those holiday cards done is stressing you out, why not just post an extended greeting on Facebook? The people you engage with most often will see it.
I still send out cards to a small group of people who aren’t very active on social media. For those people, I do enclose a personal summary about our year. I appreciate hearing from them via a physical card too.
As an alternative, send a Happy New Year card with a note. Really, people just want to hear from you. They won’t care if your cards are late.
Remember you do not have to be like Martha Stewart or Nate Berkus. You do not have to do a “Property Brothers” renovation of your home to have a nice holiday. The season is about friends and family. Make your holiday about relationships and helping others, not things. The best gift you can give is your friendship and love.
(Do you have a great holiday tip? Share it in the comments below so our community can read it!)