Stress Less this Holiday Season

Reading Level: Leisurely

Lessen stress during the holidays with a few practical decisions.

Many people are overwhelmed by all the extra time and work that are invested into family traditions and added special events this time of year. An article by Elaine Ambrose provided a collection of good advice to show that a few wise decisions will lessen your stress. (This is one of the classic holiday “help” articles– a good reminder for each of us each Christmas/New Year’s season.)

Delegate Choose which chores or errands you need to do and which ones family members can handle. If necessary, make a simple calendar and mark which days tasks need to be done, such as vacuuming, pet care, or folding laundry, and which family member chose it.

Make Meals Easier Occasionally during this month get something from the freezer section for the main dish and add healthy items to it. Also, when you do cook, double the recipe and freeze the other meal to use over the next couple weeks.

Budget Your Money Overspending is a main holiday stressor. Decide on your budget for family traditions and activities and stick to it. Some families draw names and decide a set a dollar amount for the gifts. This also makes it easier time-wise as each person only has to shop for 1 gift and already knows the exact price they should spend.

Budget Your Time This is just as difficult of a decision to make for most people as budgeting. However, you can help your time by doing something different with gifts. Give a donation to a charity in the person’s name or give a certificate for lunch or a movie or car wash, etc. This eliminates shopping time. You will also save time, stress, and the frustration of long lines by shopping mid-week or early in the morning this month. With regard to parties, admit that it probably is not wise to accept every invitation. Choose the ones you enjoy the most and graciously decline the rest.


When Guest Drop By When you receive a call that someone is dropping by in the next half hour, this is the time for speed cleaning. Gather the family to pick up anything that looks cluttered in the main areas the guest will see, such as the entry hall, living room, dining room, kitchen, and bath. Set a timer and have everyone work as fast as they can to get done in the next 15 minutes.

When You are the Hostess You can make some decisions to lessen stress even when you are the hostess, such as hiring someone to clean before or after the party, having part of the meal catered (even if it is from the local store’s deli/bakery), or delegate to guests. Most guest love to bring along 1 supplementary item as a gift of appreciation, such as a dessert or appetizer or beverages. Just be specific in your request, so that the guests do not all bring the same type of item.

Do Not Neglect Your Health Habits The holiday season with its extra work and events is not the to let your health slide, though, for most of us, these are the first things we cut out of the schedule to make time. Keep up with your vitamins, take that walk or other workouts, do some relaxation, whatever you would normally do to keep your immune systems strong. Take some time for personal pampering, such as a bath with essential oils. Before going to parties, have a glass of milk or some fruit to limit binge eating. Take that time with your loved ones to watch your favorite holiday movie.

Plan Ahead Decide at the beginning of the month what main family traditions you want to accomplish and when. Recruit help as necessary. This will eliminate the disappointment of not taking time for what is most important to you.

Excerpts of ideas from Greenwise, Dec 2005, Elaine Ambrose.

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