Tips for Reducing Holiday Stress
While the holidays are filled with lots of cheer they can also be filled with lots of stress. A full calendar of activities and budgets stretched to the limit all add up to a not so holly jolly time. A little planning will help make the holidays merrier and brighter for everyone.
Managing Your Time
1. Have a family calendar meeting. Sit down with everyone in the home and talk about who’s invited to what. Prioritize events, and don’t be afraid to say no. Of course you don’t want to miss your daughter’s debut as a reindeer in the preschool program, but you can politely decline the neighbor’s invitation to his annual Christmas Polka Sing-Along.
2. When planning large gatherings with extended family or friends, consider holding them on a day other than the official holiday. Great Aunt Gert’s famous pecan pumpkin pie will taste just as good the Saturday after Thanksgiving. You’ll get to spend Turkey Day at home with your immediate family watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in your pajamas instead of in the car fighting holiday traffic.
3. Don’t forget to schedule time to spend with your children and spouse. A night at home watching Christmas movies and drinking hot chocolate is a nice break from all the busyness.
Managing Your Budget
4. Sit down and figure out how much you can spend on gifts. Determine not to go over that amount. Gift giving should be joyful. Knowing that you can’t really afford all the purchases you’re making won’t make for a Merry Christmas.
5. Go for meaningful over material value. That old adage, “It’s the thought the counts,” really does hold true. Picking items that are interesting and useful show that you put thought into the gift. Your brother-in-law is really into biking. You’d love to buy him a brand new racing cycle, but it’s way out of your price range. You can however afford a book about vintage bicycles that you know he’ll enjoy.
6. For large extended family or groups of friends, try an alternative to the traditional gift exchange. Do a white elephant exchange with a $20 limit. If everyone likes to bake, do a cookie exchange. Everyone brings a couple dozen cookies then swaps them. You’ll all go home with a variety of homemade treats. Or do an ornament exchange. Have everyone bring an ornament and draw numbers to take turns picking one out. You’ll go home with a new ornament for your tree and a memory to go with it.
7. When it comes to your immediate family, especially if your kids are older, consider putting the money you’d normally spend on presents toward a trip for all of you or buy tickets to a concert you can attend together. Money won’t be wasted on trinkets no one really needs, and you’ll have an experience that will last a lifetime.
8. If you’re making purchases at big box stores, take advantage of price matching programs. You may be able to get everything you need at one store, but still get the sale prices at all the others. That will save you time and gas money. Do your research before you go, so you know the price matching policy and the sale prices at other stores.
9. Shopping online is another time and gas saver. Important dates to remember are December 1st, known as Cyber Monday, when online retailers offer their best deals of the year. Also this year, December 18th is Free Shipping Day, when many online sellers will wave their shipping fees. Grandpa Shorter’s offers free gift wrap and free shipping on all orders over $100 – take advantage of deals like this!
10. Shop local, small businesses for unique items you can’t find anywhere else. A one-of-a-kind gift is always better than another sweater. Again you’ll save time and gas money, and you won’t need to fight the crowds at the shopping malls.