Start now for less stress later

A Stress-Free Christmas

contributed by Karen L.

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The best way to alleviate holiday stress is to begin as early as possible. I know it's difficult thinking about Christmas in September when it's still warm outside and people are thinking more about school, fall decorating, pumpkin picking, Halloween, etc. I have a full-time job that's high stress, and for me, there are only so many weekends between the beginning of September and Thanksgiving. Here are my tips for alleviating holiday stress:

  1. Start early! Even if you aren't in the mood, you'll be glad you did.
  2. Don't pack your schedule so full with parties, events, volunteering, etc. that you're left with no time for yourself. Limit yourself to those that mean the most to you. It's more important to attend your children's holiday concert than to go for drinks with coworkers. You have to pick and choose according to your own priorities. I have a friend who goes to every single party but doesn't decorate. It's your choice.
  3. Every room in the house does not have to be decorated. We all can't be Martha Stewart. If you want something in every room, choose one thing like festive towels in your non-guest bathroom or some red and green throw pillows in the bedroom. Those pictures in the magazines with the "perfect" decorations are staged. And unless you want to be vacuuming pine needles until next July, skip the real greenery and tree for artificial.
  4. Cut down on the number of gifts you buy. This saves money on gifts, wrapping paper, bows, tags, etc. Most people have everything they want, and if they need something, they usually buy it themselves. A lot of our friends have decided that it's more important to spend time together than to exchange gifts. You can go the handmade route but remember to set aside time to craft or you'll be adding stress. Sit down with children in advance and remind them that Santa can't bring them everything they want because he has to give gifts to many children. If your children are older, let them know if finances won't allow for the latest iPhone, the coolest video games, the newest UGG boots, or the best designer fashions. Going into debt to buy gifts just isn't worth it. January comes around soon enough and so does the postman with credit card bills.
  5. If you enjoy baking and it is an important part of the season but you are short on time, the easiest thing to do is make different quick breads like date bread, zucchini nut bread, and cranberry orange bread and freeze them. If you don't have time to bake dozens of cookies, go to a bakery and get an assortment. Or buy a tub of pre-made chocolate chip cookie batter and bake up a bunch. Just about everyone loves chocolate chip cookies and it's a huge time saver.
  6. Stop trying to impress and please other people. Do Christmas your way. If your mother-in-law doesn't like the way you make your stuffing, that's her problem, not yours.
  7. Don't expect Christmas to solve your problems. Unfortunately, Christmas won't mend family issues, fix a broken marriage, turn your teenager into an angel, or solve your financial problems. Enjoy Christmas for what it is, namely a beautiful holiday to share and celebrate. Keep things simple and hold the thought that less is more. Remember that Jesus is the reason for the season!

Take the Next Step:

  • Could you use one of these apps to make money while you shop for Christmas?
  • Visit the TDS library for more holiday stress busters.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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