We haven’t even hit Halloween yet and my blood pressure is on the rise. Why? Christmas. I absolutely love Christmas but holiday stress is the worst. Outside of the planning for Christmas Dinner, decorating, and gift shopping; the holiday season brings the additional stress of every other person who is stressed out because it is the holidays.
Today I’m giving you tips on how to save money, time, and relieve just some of the stress we feel during this most special time of year. By the time you are done reading this you will have an actionable plan to keep this holiday season as stress free as possible.
Get a Planner
With all of our electronics and all of the ways we can schedule electronically, I’m sure you are looking at this like, “really?” Hear me out.
Old fashioned planners during this time of year are the best things to store everything from scheduled holiday work parties to planning your Christmas Dinner. You can paperclip recipes to your planned day to make them. You can schedule shopping, budget, schedule, and everything else you would need.
Another upside to having a planner with all of your tasks, holiday plans, and shopping plans marked in it. It means you can say no to that mother that wants you to sew every single costume for the Christmas play at school. Imagine flashing your busy schedule to her and simply saying “Thanks for thinking of me but I’m completely booked, but good luck finding someone else to do it.”
I love my bullet journal during the holiday season because not only do I have a pretty spread to look at but I can track absolutely everything with ease.
Your Naughty and Nice List
We’d all love to buy gifts for every single person in our address book but let’s face it, financially it’s just not possible. So first you are going to list out who is getting gifts. These people usually include, children, spouses, parents, and a few friends.
If money is tight this year make sure to phone some friends or family members. There is no shame is telling people there will be no gift exchange this year. Years ago this would have seemed impossible. Instead ask them if you can plan a coffee break at your house after the holidays are over. Most of the time your friend or family member will feel relieved to not have to purchase extra gifts too.
Remember to include any near Christmas birthdays. My husband has a Christmas birthday so it’s extra important to plan to buy him a gift for his birthday. Do not let the holidays ruin a birthday. They deal with that enough, make their birthday special.
Create A Gift Budget
Once you have your naughty and nice list done create the budget. Look at your savings and decide on a total amount to spend. If you planned for the holidays like I did for 15 years – and you don’t have any savings – you can do a few things to earn some extra cash. Try picking up extra shifts at work. Get a very part time job for some extra cash. Sell some things in your home on craigslist or Facebook.
With your budget in mind, divide that amongst the people you will shop for. So if you have 4 parents, 2 kids, a spouse and one friend you are shopping for you might divide a $300 budget like this. $70 each kid, $60 for your spouse, $20 for each parent and $20 for your friend.
Request Gift Lists To Avoid Holiday Stress
At this point I tell anyone I am shopping for to make a list.
Something my friends started a long time back was building Amazon Wish Lists. We share those lists to our family and friends and we treat it like Secret Santa. Our families can buy and it ships directly to the home. Amazon even does gift wrapping, though most of us will just wrap the amazon box and stuff it under the tree.
If you want to save money on shipping and get some amazing deals throughout the holidays sign up for Amazon Prime 30 Day Free Trial.
Doing this means you and your family get exactly what you want. No more guessing, no more fighting, no more disappointment. You are the hero of Christmas and you might even have time for a glass of wine or two.
How To Avoid Holiday Stress When Shopping
Here’s how I prefer to do it. I grew up in Chicago where Christmas meant hours of traffic and road rage. To avoid that the last couple of years I started shopping online. For my son and my husband my shopping is done on Amazon. The parents who always claim to never buy them anything knowing damn good and well I’m still going to buy them something, get gift cards mailed to them.
I avoid the stores at all costs, this is why I start saving for Christmas early. I’ve done Christmas Eve shopping and it’s not fun. It’s a headache inducing, anxiety filled, mess of a day. I blame the holiday season for my general lack of love towards shopping in general. If I absolutely have to shop in a store I do it bright and early on a Monday morning when everyone else is busy at work.
Most of my holiday shopping is done on Cyber Monday. You can get some awesome deals and Prime members get free two day shipping giving you plenty of time to wrap your gifts and actually enjoy this magical time of year.
Another fantastic gift idea for parents or family members is the gift of Amazon Prime. Give them prime and they can get free 2 day shipping, instant streaming of thousands of movies and tv shows, and ad free access to millions of songs. Prime as a gift is a fantastic way to help people save money throughout the entire year.
Decorate For The Holidays Early
Go ahead and start decorating directly after Halloween. What you will do is put the outside lights up before it gets too cold. This does not include any of the big stuff, just the lights that will hang close to roof lines or window sills so they won’t be seen until it’s time to turn them on. Icicle lights, bigger decor, and wreaths come after Thanksgiving, as those are all visible from the street and you’re likely to cause some bitterness with one of your neighbors if you put the lights up too early.
What Rob and I do is take Black Friday and avoid any and all contact with shopping. We turn on Christmas movies and music. We dance and sing together while pulling out all of our Christmas Decor and setting it up. At the end of the night it’s hot cocoa around the Christmas Tree.
Within 3 days after Christmas we take everything down, pack it carefully and organized. It gets stored away for the year. Remember to leave the outside light tote where easily accessible so in the spring you can remove the lights and pack them away with ease.
In those same three days following Christmas it’s the best time to go buying Christmas decor for the following year. You’ll get the cheapest prices and have a start on next years decor. While everyone else is just glad the holiday is done.
Avoid Holiday Stress With Meal Planning
Christmas morning is extremely hectic. Plus if you’re hosting a get together that day you will be in that kitchen more than any other day of the year. Rob and I get a nut roll and donuts the night before after viewing Christmas lights.
If you’re not down with the nut roll or donuts try an overnight crock pot breakfast. You can prepare a breakfast casserole the night before as well. Just pop it in the oven to bake first thing in the morning while you unwrap presents.
If you are going to an event, find out if there is a dish you can bring. Plan ahead and if possible make the dish the night before to make the day easier on you. If you are having the event make everything you can the night before. Here is a list of tricks I’ve used in the past to make sure day of goes as smoothly as possible.
For mashed potatoes, boil until done drain and put in a container in the fridge. The day of boil some water and add the potatoes. Drain the water after 5-10 minutes. Blend and add milk and butter as needed.
For Baked Potatoes, bake them the night before and refrigerate. Wrap with aluminum foil and place in a pan with a cover. Remove the cover and put them in the oven while carving the beef or turkey.
Salads, appetizers, and desserts can all be made the day before. Bread should be done the day before and can be heated for 10-20 seconds in the microwave to be served warm.
The only thing you should cook the day of is the meat and vegetable. This gives you more time for last minute cleaning and preparations.
My #1 Tip for Staying Relaxed During the Holidays
Wine. No joke, I have a glass of wine after stressful holiday season days. It’s called “Me” Time. So if wine is not your thing, then take a bubble bath. Read a book. Watch a movie. Do whatever it is you want to do to relax and do it at least once a week during this time.
Remember the holidays are about family and friends, but that doesn’t mean neglect your own health. Take time to relax, enjoy traditions, and be in the moment. Write your plans down and deal with them at the times that you need to. If it’s written down, you will be reminded, and you can take the holidays in stride.
Do you experience holiday stress? Let me know in the comments below. Follow me on Pinterest for more like this and pin this to your self care and holiday boards.