Ten Tips To Mastering A Stress Free Holiday Season

If you’re anything like me, this is the time of year when life ramps up when all you really need to do is wind down. Work gets hectic, everyone is tired and stressed and trying to finish projects pre-holidays, the social calendar explodes and if you have small humans it’s a constant cycle of assemblies and concerts and presentation days – all (in)conveniently scheduled in the middle of your work day too of course.

So, I wanted to find some ways to take control this year, to make sure the run up didn’t mean I would run out of holiday cheer by the time the big day arrives. Here are a few tips I have found and will be testing out myself…

1. Say No Thank You

You don’t have to say yes to every invitation that comes your way in the weeks leading up to the holidays. Be selective and pace yourself. *Side note, if you don’t have a planner on the fridge, this is the month to get one up and make it easy for everyone to keep track of who needs to be where and when, rather than them relying on you to be the family calendar.

2. Be Merry Without Getting Too Merry

Heading into an important meeting or facing a mall full of holiday shoppers with a hangover is the worst! While the drinks are a flowin’ it’s time to get comfortable sayin’ no-in. Ok, the rhyme is crap but the idea is solid. Go easy on yourself and your liver by finding good ways to decline those extra glasses that you know will tip you over the edge…here are a few ideas to help you along:

Have a few phrases ready to go, like; ‘Thank you, I’m alternating drinks tonight and it’s water’s turn, I’ll go and grab one in a mo’,

Ordering your favorite cocktail sans alcohol, just ask for a ‘virgin’ version.

Let your host know early on, or even in advance if you won’t be drinking. Then they know not to ask, which will avoid any awkward situations.

Make light of the situation: ‘My liver just called and threatened to quit if I carry on and I need it to get through Christmas day with the in-laws.’

3. Get Organised

I say this one to myself EVERY year, but this year I mean it, no really, I do! Instead of saving the Christmas shopping to the day before Christmas eve – I reserve that day for frantic wrapping and cooking – make it a marathon not a sprint…write your lists now and make today your official start day. Many stores start having short pre-Christmas sale periods early, so if you know you need a Smiggle pencil case or that Kikki-K diary, you can keep an eye out for the best time to buy them. Also, start listening for clues and asking a few probing questions, ‘Have you heard of any good books out at the moment?’ Loved ones will appreciate that you remembered talking with them about the gift your giving.

4. Carve out some ‘me time’

You don’t have to wait until Boxing day to relax. Give yourself an afternoon off after a morning of concentrated holiday shopping or prep. If you know a break is coming you’ll feel better about the tasks ahead and guilt-free about enjoying it having done them.

5. Arrange a distraction for the kids

If you need to do your shopping on the weekend, give yourself some kid-free time and make it fun for the family by booking them a trip to the movies with dad or a carer. We made it a tradition in our house and the small human and her dad look forward to the holiday movie trip every year…and I look forward to the free time to run any last minute errands!

6. Shop local

If you can, save yourself time stuck in traffic and support small businesses by grabbing a coffee and having a wander around your local shops. Butchers and bakeries often stock up on delicious foodie treats too.

7. Set a budget and stick to it

It’s never fun to get the post Christmas credit card bill or to check your account and realise you’ve overspent. Be realistic and set yourself a budget and most importantly, keep track of what you’ve spent with a note on your phone so it’s always on hand! It’s easy to feel like you’ve got a vague idea of how you’re doing, but those little extras that you spot along the way add up. Don’t forget to budget for the mountain of wrapping paper, cards and postage if sending overseas too!

8. Have a crafternoon

Kill two birds with one stone and entertain the kids (borrow some if you want to score some brownie points) while sorting wrapping and cards. Buy a few rolls of brown paper or craft paper and packs of blank cards and let the kids go crazy decorating them! It’s a personal touch when gift giving, keeps the little monkeys busy for an afternoon and you can pat yourself on the back for saving a little $$ along the way.

9. Shop Online

You can still support small businesses by shopping online and avoid the crowds. Sites like Etsy host thousands of creatives just waiting to make that special something for that special someone. They’re great for international gifts too. Save on postage and carbon footprints by finding local stores, you can often request wrapping and notes to be included at this time of year too to make it personal.

10. Download an audiobook or podcast

Nothing will make you keener to hit the shops than needing to hear what happens in the next episode of an awesome podcast series or an interview! Tune out the chaos and tune into something entertaining or inspiring, Here are a few I’ve been plugged into recently:

If you love Oprah’s interviews (who doesn’t?) she’s uploaded her SuperSoul Sunday chats with the likes of Deepak Chopra, Shonda Rhimes, Eckhart Tolle, Elizabeth Gilbert, Alanis Morissette and more as free podcasts on iTunes here

WBEZ Chicago has a host of awesome shows, but I’ve been obsessed with Nerdette especially their awesome interviews with the likes of Tom Hanks and Roxanne Gay.

If you love a Ted Talk you’ll love Ted Radio Hour on NPR where they interview the speakers.

If you are a true crime fan who was obsessed with  Serial and hooked on S-Town then you’ll love the latest series Dirty John.

Hopefully there will be a few tips here that’ll ease the stress of the run up to the holidays! So far we’ve done the santa photo (in and out in 20 minutes, it was like a Christmas miracle!), I’ve got a list going for gifts and have started ticking things off, have turned down two parties and I’m prepping my drinking strategy for those I have accepted next week!

May the holiday force be with you my friends!

Jem x





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