Each year I tell myself that I won’t stress over the holidays. But with everything that needs to be done in the next 2 ½ weeks, I am feeling very stressed, especially since I didn’t get to do any shopping last weekend and now I need to reschedule two parties that were canceled because of the icy weather.
I asked a group of friends what they do to survive the holidays, and we came up with these suggestions. Hopefully a few of them will be helpful to you.
*Set priorities. Think of everything that you need to accomplish during the holidays and make a list. Include all the little things such as buying new garland for the tree as well as the major ones like gifts. Divide the list into categories of importance: things you must get done, the ones that you would like to do and the ones that really don’t matter. Then work the list, starting with the top priorities.
*Set goals. Be as realistic as possible. Can you really bake eight dozen cupcakes the night before hosting your office Christmas party? The more realistic you are with your goals, the less stress you will feel.
*Be willing to compromise. It may be worth your time and money to find someone to do the little things. If decorating and taking down the tree is a chore, hire a teen or neighbor to do it for you. Or have your family members help you. Things may not be done perfectly or as well as you would do but at least they are done.
*Plan relaxed time. We get so involved in trying to create the “perfect holiday” that we don’t realize how exhausted and grumpy we are. Take a few minutes each day that you can call your own. Do whatever you want during this time to relax your mind and body. Don’t feel guilty about taking some personal time. Not only do you deserve it but you will be able to do other things on your to-do list with more energy.
*Make lists for everything – shopping, grocery, errands to run, etc. Carry the lists with you at all times. The more you write down, the less you have to commit to memory. Since I am a list-maker, I even have a master list on my hard drive for the holidays. I update it each year after New Year’s so I am ready to go for the next year.
*Set a budget and stick to it. Don’t overspend, no matter what. No one wants to still be paying for Christmas on July 4! Plan ahead for credit purchases. If you don’t pay off the balance each month, you will need to factor in the interest payment when purchasing that gift. Avoid impulse purchases. These are the ones that always get us in trouble. Think through your gift list and give serious thought to what you want to buy each person and how much you can afford to spend. It’s too easy to overspend if you haven’t taken the time to decide before shopping what you will be buying. Even if you find a better gift to replace the one you already purchased, resist the urge to purchase it and instead make a note on your master list for next year. If you have finished your shopping, stay out of stores and malls.
*Wrap as you go. It’s a lot faster to wrap gifts if you keep all wrapping supplies, including tape, scissors and name tags, in a box so you don’t have to look for things. As soon as you bring gifts home, wrap, tag and put them under the tree. If you have ever decided to wrap everything at one time, more than likely you’ll like this strategy better.
*Be flexible. No matter how well you plan, there will always be a few glitches. You may have unexpected guests at dinner, a gift doesn’t arrive in time, or a cherished ornament can’t be found. Just take a deep breath and keep in mind the spirit of the season.
Stress. It’s part of everyone’s life. Factor in the holidays and stress can be overwhelming if we allow it to be. What’s more important: celebrating the holiday with family and friends or stressing over a gift? Don’t let stress take the joy of the season.
Carrie T. Brazeal is the County Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972.424.1460, Ext. 4233.