How to Avoid Stress During the Holidays
I love, love, love the holiday season. Yes, I’m that person that starts playing Christmas music in October and puts up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving – I’m obnoxious, and I know it. Everything about the holidays puts me in a good mood: the smell of pumpkin candles, drinking hot chocolate, eating sugar cookies, the brisk weather (well, this is negotiable for Texas), the Christmas lights gleaming, and the anticipation of Santa’s arrival.
However, I am well aware that the holiday season doesn’t have the same affect on others. It seems that many people get overly stressed duringthe holiday season, especially at the thought of Christmas shopping. So, if you’re feeling Grinchy this year, here’s some ways you can avoid the usual stress of the holidays.
Start Early: Don’t leave the Christmas shopping until the last minute; make sure you hit the stores early (October or November) before the crowds arrive. There is nothing worse than the onset of road rage from mall parking lots. By going early, you don’t run the risk of buying a lame gift out of desperation, and you’ll also be able to shop around for the best prices.
Make a List: This is the easiest way to organize your Christmas shopping. Make a list of everyone you will be buying a gift for. Then, start jotting downgift ideas next to that person’s name. Also, write down a list of what you want this year, and be sure to mention these things to your family.
Buy an extra gift: It’s inevitable that a neighbor or co-worker, who you didn’t buy a gift for, will end up giving you a gift. Although it isn’t always necessary to return their kindness with a gift, a can of yummy gingersnaps or a scented candle can be easy to exchange in a pinch. Plus, this will save you another trip to the store.
Just ask: When it comes to family members, always start by asking what they want for Christmas. Unfortunately, as we get older, we feel it isn’t acceptable to write down our Christmas wish list, let alone actually tell someone what we want. You never know, your aunt might be overjoyed to tell you that all she really wants for Christmas is “Magic Mike” on Blu-ray. This makes your Christmas shopping so much easier, and people get what they really want.
Shop Online: If you truly can't stand the mall, consider shopping online.The website Overstock.com has low shipping fees and free shipping if you spend over $50. Plus, they have everything imaginable from jewelry to home furnishings to electronics. Another good website is Etsy.com, where you can purchase unique, homemade and customized gifts for the whole family. Also, try browsing online before heading to the store, so you have a plan in place. This saves you from aimlessly walking around the store and potentially going home empty handed.
Remember, it’s the thought that counts: Christmas is meant to bring families together. It is meantto be a joyous time. Don’t go crazy buying gifts you can’t afford. You won’t be celebrating if all you can think about is how much debt you’ve accrued. Think back on your favorite Christmas memories. They're likely memories of spending time with friends and family, not the specific gifts you received that year. Make a budget and stick with it – and don’t feel the need to apologize for spending less on people’s gifts.
Give back: There is nothing worse than being down on your luck duringthe holiday season. When you get stressed over slightly burning the Christmas turkey, think about those who have no food to enjoy on Christmas. This year, be sure to do some good in your community, like donating a gift to Toys For Tots or dropping off food at your local food bank.
Don’t forget: Be Merry!
Don’t let the person who cuts you off in the mall parking lot ruin your day. Be sure to enjoy the holidays and make some great memories. Host a small Christmas gathering and serve something unique, like apple-piespiced cider that everyone will remember. Have the whole family help decorate the tree while listening to Christmas music. Gather your family around the TV to watch “A Christmas Story” or Christmas Vacation while drinking hot chocolate. Sit your kids down and read The Polar Express before bedtime. These are the things that I remember from my childhood that make Christmas such a special time of year. Don’t let the holidays stress you out –get organized and make some wonderful memories; you never know how big your little Grinch heart might grow!
Photo credit: www.themoviedb.org
Blog Author: Jennifer Haynes, Former B teamer.