The holiday season can be a special time, full of celebrations of family and friends and reminders of what’s truly important in life. Unfortunately, this idealistic view of the period between Halloween and New Year’s can seem like a distant dream as demands press upon you like a weight. However, it is possible to have a stress-free holiday with these easy holiday ideas and tips.
By being proactive, you can eliminate holiday stress and experience an easy holiday with family and friends, full of things you enjoy instead of things you dread. It takes a little more work up front, but the result is a season filled with events and traditions that are truly meaningful, instead of time spent frantically running through a store at the last minute.
The good thing about the holiday season is that it’s predictable. You know it’s coming, you know when it’s coming, and you know the basics it entails to get through it. So instead of waiting until the last minute to complete the details for each celebration, anticipate what’s coming and stockpile early. Have your kids choose Halloween costume themes before school starts. Then, you can be on the lookout for patterns and fabrics, costume kits or props and hand-me-downs way before the actual event. Pay attention to people’s interests and hobbies so that when you see a sale on something they’d like, you can buy their gift early, instead of waiting until the stressful holiday rush to get all of your shopping done. Keep your eyes peeled for tableware and decorations that you’ll need, from fall-themed paper plates for Thanksgiving dessert to unique serving pieces for your Christmas party. Stores release holiday items early, so snatching them up when they come out (usually one to two months beforehand) ensures that you have what you need for a calm holiday and won’t have to make a made dash to the store in the eleventh hour.
Stick to the List
Whether shopping for decorations, party supplies or gifts, stores are downright overwhelming during the holiday season. Shelves are stocked to the brim with impulse buys, beautiful displays and all sorts of marketing techniques to get you to purchase much more than you really need. Before you go out, arm yourself with a well thought-out list of the items you need. If you’re planning a party, keep in mind the number of guests, types of food you’ll be serving and what you may already have at home to use. Be specific; this will keep you from purchasing something like a new serving dish on a beautiful display when you already have four at home. If you’re shopping for gifts, list each person you have to buy for, a spending or gift limit and any other details that will help you shop for each individual. Take note of small purchases, like stocking stuffers, so that you don’t get home with a pile of random goods you don’t know what to do with or need.
Ask for Help
Don’t try to do everything yourself. If you’re hosting a meal or a party, ask others to bring something from a cheese plate to a pie for dessert. Enlist friends and family to help you shop and clean, and ask for extra hands in all of the preparations. Remember that it’s your celebration, too, so there’s no need to stress yourself out doing everything yourself. Let people show off their own strengths, from cooking to decorating, and give yourself a stress-free holiday.
Learn How to Say “No”
The holiday season is full of events, parties and other ways to get involved in the seemingly never-ending festivities. And while it’s tempting to agree to help with every event that comes your way, one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself is a calm holiday by learning how to say, “no.” Declining people’s requests doesn’t make you rude or selfish, but realistic. Practice phrases like, “I’d really like to help, but my schedule is already full,” or, “That sounds like a lot of fun, but I’ve already committed to helping with xyz.” Look at your calendar, write down everything you’re already doing over the holiday season, and block out free time throughout the holidays to simply relax by yourself or with family and friends and enjoy the season for yourself. “Schedule” days for meaningful traditions like pumpkin picking and cookie baking so that you have enough time to do them leisurely. Say yes to things that are truly important to you, and let the rest go.