Don't let the stress of the season get you down. These 9 tips will help organize and prepare your for a stress-free holiday season.
1. Embrace November.
Remember how stressed you were last December? We have a secret tip for you this year: November. OK, we know what you’re saying: “But, the holiday season lasts far too long already!“
Yes, but once the calendar hits December, the days become jam-packed, and you’ll want to spend that valuable time with friends and family. So, use November to check off as much of your list as possible and take time to actually enjoy this holiday season.
2. Make a budget.
The holidays are all about giving, but make sure you don’t break the bank in the process. Break your budget down into categories so you know where you can spend a little extra and where you should skimp.
We like the following categories:
- Gifts (family, friends, teachers, mailman)
- Food & Entertaining (holiday meal, baking, party contributions)
- Decorations (tree, ornaments, gift wrap)
- Postage (stamps, shipping)
- Donations (gifts to charity)
If your budget is tight this year, start with the total amount you can spend and work backwards. And remember, homemade decorations and simple gifts that come from the heart are what the holidays are all about.
3. Ready the supplies.
Once the holidays are here, you don’t want to have to make an extra trip to the store just because you’re out of tape. Stock up on things like wrapping paper, gift tags, ribbon, tape and stamps before Thanksgiving.
You can order holiday stamps online and choose the exact design you want instead of relying on what the post office has in stock. Also, take note of the holiday shipping deadlines so you’re not caught off guard 3 days before the cutoff date.
4. Stick to your good habits.
With so much on your mind (and with so many cookies in the house), it’s easy to neglect your good habits. Keep up your healthy eating and daily exercise, which will give you the energy to check those holiday tasks off your list.
Stock up on Chicken of the Sea Flavored Salmon Pouches and Tilapia Fillets in Sauce — they’re great to have on hand for a fast lunch or dinner. The variety of flavors makes it easy to mix and match with the ingredients you happen to have in your fridge.
5. Presents, presents, presents.
Oh presents, the never-ending task. Let’s break it down.
- List everyone you need to buy a gift for. Take note of who could receive similar gifts — maybe all the cousins get iTunes gift cards this year. Note the people you will need to ship gifts to, or if you’re planning to give someone an early gift, and take care of these presents first.
- Try to buy as much of your list before December as possible. If all you have to do is wrap presents, you’ll be much more likely to actually enjoy the time with family and friends without struggling to find that last minute gift.
- Stock up on a couple of hostess gifts for those occasions when you forgot to add someone to your list or when you’re gifted an unexpected present. Something universal like a nice mulled winter punch or flavored olive oil will always be appreciated.
6. Get the holiday card out of the way.
Start your holiday card early. There are always more steps than anticipated (photo, order, write, address, stamp, send…) and there’s no reason it can’t be started right after Halloween.
Take the first step by updating your holiday card list so it’s current. Who has moved? Who has gotten married. Or divorced? Get your list down and then get this off your list early!
7. Prepare for parties.
Whether you're having the party or attending one, it’s likely you’ll need to make an appetizer some time this holiday season. Choose something you can make a day or two in advance so there’s one fewer thing on your mind the day of.
Some great options:
8. Plan for the unexpected.
The holidays are full of surprises; use your freezer to your advantage. Make a double batch of soup or casserole early in the season and freeze for a night you didn’t think would be so busy. Bake a couple extra zucchini or pumpkin breads to pull out when unexpected company comes by.
9. Only do the things you enjoy — forget the rest.
The holidays are supposed to be about enjoying time with family and friends, not endless lists and trips to the store.
Being prepared will certainly help, but if sending out holiday cards sounds too stressful, just don’t do it! Aunt Patty won’t realize she never got your card and you can always send New Years or Valentines Day cards this year.
Don’t stress yourself out about having the perfect holiday when you’re a cookie and a deep breath away from a enjoying a peaceful holiday.