Do you find the holiday season just a little too stressful at times? It’s no big wonder; after all, the holidays are the time of year when we seem to cram a years worth of living into four short weeks. Between all that spending, shopping, cooking, entertaining, decorating, and keeping the kids happy while on holiday break, it’s no big wonder why even a super mom gets a little stressed out
For those of us who can’t afford to dump the kids at a baby-sitter and have a spa day during the holidays, there are other ways to make the holidays a little less stressful. Here’s just a few of the sensible, practical no cost ideas that have worked for me over the years.
Work up a calendar. With all those holiday details & events to remember, many of us lose sleep wondering what we might be forgetting. One trick I’ve learned is to work up a calendar with dates and times of our holiday activities, cut off dates for mailing, cookie baking, guest arrivals and all those little details that keep us up at night. Once these details have been written down, the stress of forgetting something usually goes away.
Draw up a budget. Over spending is another huge cause of holiday stress. To eliminate money related anxiety, drawing up a holiday budget will help keep you on track. (Read “How to Create a Last Minute Holiday Budget” by this author to see how it’s done). A budget prevents you from overspending in one category at the expense of another. It will also ensure that your holiday spending spree won’t come back to bite you in January.
Simplify family meals . Holiday cooking doesn’t have to be some drawn out, expensive cooking marathon that has to start at Thanksgiving and end on January 2. While you probably should have some homemade cookies, pumpkin pie, and a Christmas ham or turkey for your holiday dinner, the rest of the meals can be simple ones. Things like crockpot meals, soup & biscuits, and casseroles are easy fixing dinners that are quick to make and will free up more time for holiday fun.
Have your family help with decorating the house and tree. Instead of tackling this stressful job by yourself, enlist the help of your family in hanging lights, buying and decorating the tree. So, it’s not as nice as if you did it yourself, but hey, does it really matter?
Prepare a reasonable gift list. In my opinion, this business of having to buy Christmas gifts for everyone and their uncle really has gotten out of control. One way to simplify the holidays and lower the stress is to scale back on the Christmas gift-giving list. At our place, “purchased gifts” are for immediate family only. Everyone else gets homemade holiday cookies or caramel corn along with a handmade card. Believe me, making caramel corn for 30 people is a whole lot less stressful than spending hours at the mall wondering what on earth to buy.
Skip the Black Friday sales. Holiday shopping is supposed to be creative and fun as we stroll around the mall enjoying the decorations and festivities. Fighting back the mobs at a Black Friday sale is not fun. I’ve discovered that it is far less stressful to shop for Christmas at my leisure on Sunday morning, after work, or in the afternoon after the Black Friday sales are over. The crowds are smaller, the people are nicer, and there’s still plenty of good buys out there.
Take time out for unscheduled fun. Between office parties, school programs, community concerts, Christmas parties, and tree lighting ceremonies, a family can keep hopping from activity to activity all the way through January. Guess what? It’s OK to say “no” to scheduled activities once in a while and spend a day instead with the kids down at the park. Things like impromptu snow fights, building snowmen, sledding or skating, cutting out paper snowflakes or even strolling downtown are all fun ways to enjoy the holidays.
Over the years, our family has discovered that making the holidays a little less stressful really isn’t that hard. All it really takes is a little scaling back on the presents, the cooking, the activities, and the spending to turn a stress filled holiday season into one that’s much more enjoyable for Mom and the rest of family.
For related content by C. Jeanne Heida, check out How to have a no cost Christmas.