10 Ways to Manage Holiday Stress! (Part 2)
Last week I talked about the 10 things that are already stressing me out about the Holiday Season.
Today I want to share 10 ways to Manage the Holiday Stress caused by my Top 10. You can also listen to me being interviewed by Kathy Garland on her series on Managing Holiday Stress.
10. Planning my daughter’s school party and collecting money for teacher gifts.
This causes stress because everyone is SOOOO last minute, including me. I have a great group of moms who are sharing this task with me. Working together and everyone doing a part of the task helps ease the stress. Hint: Learn to ask for help. You don’t have to do everything on your own, not just at school or work but at home, too! Be prepared for it to be last minute. Do what you can ahead of time, knowing you will have to do some things at the very last instant!
9. Making home made gifts for teachers and grandparents.
I definitely bring this one on myself! I love making handmade gifts but should probably start in July! So why don’t I start in July? It’s hard to get into the Christmas Spirit when it’s 120 degrees outside. I have learned to keep my eyes open for creative crafts that can be re-purposed for the holidays, like this cute magnetic chalkboard that Maggie and I made. I’ve also learned to simplify! Gifts do not have to be extravagant, a set of note cards or a loaf of pumpkin bread are good enough. It truly is the thought that counts. Last year we made fudge for all of our clients. Do you know how easy fudge is to make and how much people love it! One batch of fudge can easily make 6 to 10 gifts.
8. Making holiday travel plans, flight reservations, shipping of gifts, pet care, ahh (okay, that’s more than one but you get the point!)
I know what the advice is here but somehow find it difficult to follow my own advice: Get Organized! We did buy our tickets for Christmas well in advance in an effort to save money but have I done anything else other than think about gifts, pet care, etc.? Yes, I have thought about all of it but I need to take some action. First step, make a list of what needs to get done. Assign each item on the list a due date (don’t schedule them all for the week before you leave.) Start checking things off as you go! Black Friday is next week, if you love to shop, this is a great time to get a jump start on holiday shopping. Or, if you are like me and can’t bear the thought of battling the crowds, shop on online! Line up pet sitters, someone to pick up mail, the friend to drive you to the airport, etc. weeks before your deadline. You will be glad you did!
7. Getting gifts into the mail before I have to pay extra shipping to get it there on time.
Notice how all of these stresses center around the theme of getting things done ahead of time? One way to avoid the lines at the post office is to shop online and have gifts mailed directly to the recipient. Saves time, money and gift wrap! If you know you will be mailing gifts, make sure to put the date on your calendar for exactly when you need to get to the post office. This will be a visual reminder to take care of the other details like shopping, gift wrap and getting your kids to make a card for Grandma. I use Google calendar for everything. I love it! But sometimes I need to see it written down in front of me, so we have a large write-on calendar that hangs in our breakfast area for kids’ activities, work events or special deadlines. Find a system that works for you and use it. If you have a great system that you swear by, share it in the comments section below, we could all use your advice!
6. Getting Christmas cards into the mail before New Year’s Day!
Simple answer, use an automated system like Send Out Cards to simplify the process or send an e-card through Hallmark or Blue Mountain. I love to have my kids make a beautiful card and then we scan it in and email it to everyone. It’s still the personal touch of a homemade card but we save paper, postage and time.
5. Budgeting for the holidays: food, entertainment, travel, gifts!
I love the holidays. I love the cooking, the shopping, buying gifts for family and friends. It’s so easy to go overboard and spend way too much! I learned that I need to set a budget ahead of time for groceries for those special meals that will add to our regular grocery bill. I need a separate budget for gifts, and maybe a few movies or tickets to the Nutcracker Ballet and a budget just for travel. We started saving for our December trip to Santa Barbara, CA right after our August vacation. Putting away some money each month was way easier than scrambling for cash or putting the tickets on a credit card when we needed to buy them. Put some thought into what is reasonable for you this year and stick to it. You can do this by using cash when you shop and making sure to watch for sales, deals and coupons. Don’t forget to make sure you have money for those unexpected emergencies, too. Lorraine Brock shares some great tips on how to do this in her article.
4. Trying to avoid holiday weight gain!
One word: COMMIT! Think about what you want the most. If you are worried about weight gain, do some meal-planning, ask for support from your family and don’t give in when someone else tries to force feed you pie! Read Sonja Kabell’s article on Not Tipping the Scales at Thanksgiving.
Your health is more important than offending Aunt Sue because you only had two servings of her famous stuffing. Also, plan time for exercise. A walk around the block to look at Christmas lights is fun to do with the kids and gets everyone moving!
3. Shopping for the men in my life (hubby, dad, brother, son…)
I tend to spend more money on my husband than anyone else, trying to find the perfect gift. I have learned that a book, iTunes gift card or a donation to a charity make him happier than the electronics and guitars of the past. I have learned to manage my own expectations and not feel like I have to find the PERFECT gift for him or my dad or brother. In fact, homemade fudge in their stockings was a big hit last year, way more fun than socks and ties! Think about how you can simplify your gift giving this year instead of agonizing over the perfect gift that he will never use.
2. Getting the house cleaned and decorated before Holiday Parties or House Guests.
Just a few simple words of advice: ask for help! Your kids and spouse can help get the house ready. Even young children can be given simple tasks. Start early! I love that one of my staff, Cindy Johnson, starts decorating for Christmas as soon as the Thanksgiving dishes are put away and she’s done by Friday after Thanksgiving! Do a little bit every day. You don’t have to do all of the cleaning or decorating at one time.
1. Dealing with family, whether they are staying with you or you are traveling to see them! (We are traveling to Santa Barbara to visit my brother for Christmas, yippee!)
Okay, this is a big one and I could write an entire book on dealing with family. In the interest of time and brevity (not my forte) let me just say that you absolutely have to manage everyone’s expectations ahead of time. Listen to my interview where I talk in depth about this. It may be easier said than done, but you don’t have to stay with your parents or in-laws if that stresses you out. Stay in a hotel (as long as this is in your budget.) Tell your parents the kids need the space or will sleep better (it’s true!) If guests are coming to see you, ask them to stay in a hotel if house guests stress you out or tell them you are happy to host them for a couple of days but no more than three nights. You have to tell people what you need from them or how will they know? I think I will write more about this later, I know this is such a big challenge!
Finally, my best suggestion for managing holiday stress is to take time out for yourself and your family. We can all get so overwhelmed at the holidays and we need a break. Don’t pack every day full of activities and events. If you are surrounded by too much family, go out of for a walk or a coffee on your own every day! Make sure your kids also have some quality time just with you! When you get super busy, they notice and will get fussy if they feel like you aren’t there for them. We always go to San Antonio for Thanksgiving and my step dad lives near a beautiful park, McCallister Park. We will go for several walks with the kids while we are there. We all the need the time together, the exercise and the break from family!