Holiday Stress
Dec 13, 2018

Managing Stress During the Holidays

By Kathryn Leslie

Holiday Stress

When our calendars turn to December, we are often filled with a combination of “holly-jolly” excitement and overwhelming holiday stress that can sometimes interfere with the most wonderful time of the year. How can we keep that “all is calm, all is bright” disposition when our to-do lists are seemingly endless? Three simple practices can keep us laughing all the way through the holidays: organization, preparation, and prioritization.

First, get organized. Take a day to declutter and donate toys and clothes that are no longer used before you begin any holiday preparations. Then, create a Holiday Planner to help you plan ahead and prioritize holiday tasks. Pencil in dates and times when you will deck the halls, shop, wrap, and address holiday cards.

Create a digital gift guide through Google Docs. If multiple people are buying for your little ones, you may decide to share this document with your spouse, grandparents, or aunts and uncles to avoid duplicate gifts.

Ordering most gifts online can be effective yet difficult to track. Save all confirmation emails in one email folder and add the gifts to your digital gift guide. Highlight the gifts on your document when they arrive to keep track of all your orders. Create an envelope of receipts by recipient to help with any unforeseen returns.

Next, prepare early! Use your gift guide to purchase gifts well in advance. Buying for teachers, babysitters, neighbors, nieces, nephews, in addition to your immediate family, can overwhelm even the most joyful elf! Think about buying similar items at the same time. If you need several host gifts, buy three or four bottles of wine or tins of peppermint bark that you will have on hand for parties.

Prep your holiday cards by using your favorite photo from the year, and use mailing labels to quickly address them. If you are hosting a holiday at your house, plan your meal ahead of time and buy non-perishable foods in advance. A few days before the holiday, you will be left to purchase just the fresh items on your meal list.

Last but certainly not least, prioritize your time. The holidays have significant cultural and spiritual meaning that often gets lost in the shuffle of all the preparations. Think closely about two or three traditions that are most important to you and your family. Stick to those special times and don’t feel pressured to add anything new into the mix. Cut down that live tree, bake cookies for neighbors, or wear matching pajamas. Savor those sweet times together. You don’t have to – and can’t possibly – do it all in one short month.

Perhaps you are inundated with social events during the holiday season. Think carefully about those that are most important to you. Sure, you must attend the company holiday party, but you might skip the Sunday afternoon cookie exchange.

Are the kid’s gift lists out of control? Think about limiting gifts to the rule of four. Give them something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read. Feeling generous? Add a few more, such as something to do, something just for fun, and something for everyone (a family board game is always a win).

Finally, as you are deeply invested in your organization and preparation time, think about something you can do to help others. Invite the whole family to shop for a gift drive, donate canned goods to a food bank, or write holiday cards to our troops. Make sure you involve your children so they learn the importance of giving back. Contributing to a charitable task each holiday season can be something you add to your family traditions each year.

Organize, prep, and prioritize this holiday season to keep your days merry and bright. Remember to take the time to savor the small moments, family time, and a perhaps a good peppermint latte. These holiday traditions are true treasures of the present and will become cherished memories of a lifetime.