For some, the idea of a stress-free holiday may sound impossible.
It can be a very busy — and expensive — time of year, a time with lots to do and what can often feel like not nearly enough time to get it all done. Even if you love it (like I do), it can be easy to get overwhelmed.
I’m always looking for ways to reduce the amount of overwhelm associated with the holiday season.
And while I’m certainly not an expert on the matter, I have learned a few things that have helped tamp down the stress level and create more space for enjoyment.
Tips for a stress-free holiday season
The holiday season can be a very stressful time of year but it doesn’t have to be.
Here are five things you can do (or start doing) today to encourage a more stress-free holiday season this year.
Start your shopping now
If gift giving is part of your tradition, one thing you can do to encourage a more stress-free holiday season is to start your shopping early.
How early should you get started? There’s no set answer to this question. Some people like to start their shopping very early — in the summer or, in some cases, throughout the entire year — while others prefer to hold off until a little close to the holiday.
Regardless of which category you fall into, starting even a little bit earlier can help reduce stress.
DIY? Start that early, too
Along the same lines, starting any do-it-yourself projects early is also a great idea if you’re trying to have a stress-free holiday.
Why? DIY projects, while awesome, can be time consuming at the best of times. And that’s without taking into account the inevitable delays.
If you start your DIY work early, you add breathing room to you project. This is helpful if you run into issues with things like gathering supplies or if something simply takes a little longer than you anticipated.
A related note: DIY also includes baking, if that’s something you like to do. Starting your baking early reaps much of the same benefits — more opportunity to gather supplies and more flexibility if something takes longer than expected.
Added bonus: starting early also means more time to bake, which means more treats. Everyone wins!
Get on the same page financially
The holidays can be an expensive time of year. One thing you can do to reduce some of the stress surrounding holiday expenses is to make sure you get on the same page when it comes to expectations.
What does this look like? It could look like setting spending limits for gifts or proposing a secret Santa-style exchange instead of gifts for everyone. Or maybe it means everyone brings something to contribute to family dinner.
There’s no doubt about it: these conversations can be awkward. But having these conversations can help encourage a stress-free holiday by easing pressures both on your bank account and when it comes to expectations.
Shopping online? Get the most bang for your buck
I don’t know about you, but knowing I will get back some of the money I spent during a more expensive time of year certainly reduces some of my holiday stress!
That’s why, if you do any of your shopping online, you absolutely should be using Rakuten.* This definitely applies when it comes to your holiday shopping.
I know, I know — a website that gives you cash back for shopping seems scammy. I thought the same thing at first but after using it for years, I can safely say it’s legit.
While Rakuten* is easily my favourite money-saving shopping tool, I’m also partial to sites that give discounts to new email subscribers. That said, be careful with those — if you stay on the list too long, it can be easy to fall into a trap of buying things you don’t need. If that’s you, it might be best to avoid these (or, alternatively, make sure you unsubscribe immediately after using the discount).
(* Rakuten links are referral links. If you sign up using my link, I will earn a small bonus at no cost to you)
Create your own wish list
Does anyone else remember going through the Sears catalogue as a kid to create their wish list for Santa?
This was a big part of Christmas for me growing up — and believe me, I did not hold back, listing anything and everything I could ever want without a care in the world for how much it cost.
Yet, as an adult, I resisted the idea of a wish list for years. For some reason, making a wish list as an adult felt weird.
Much like the whole “gift card as a gift idea” thing, though, I’ve come around on this.
Here’s the thing about a wish list: creating and sharing a wish list with others doesn’t mean they are obligated to purchase an item from it, but it can help reduce holiday stress by giving family and friends and idea of what you might like to receive. While there’s certainly an element of creating a wish list that’s about you, it’s also for the benefit of others.
And I don’t know about you, but I really enjoy giving my loved ones gifts I know they want (especially if it’s something they wouldn’t buy for themselves).
The idea of a stress-free holiday season might seem unlikely or even impossible — and depending on you situation, maybe it is.
What I like about the tips above is that, while they might not work for everyone, I think most people can find at least one or two helpful for bringing down the stress level.
And isn’t that what everyone wants at the end of the day?
What’s your best tip for a stress-free holiday season?