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During fall it’s easy to tell yourself, I won’t get stressed about Christmas this year. Christmas stress? What’s that? Surrounded by pumpkin-everything, you’re in denial that Christmas is on its way.
But here’s the good news: If you start preparing now, you are almost guaranteed to have a very Merry Christmas without all that holiday stress.
Remember, this time of year should be joyful! But the more strain you put on yourself, your family, and your wallet, the less room you’ll have to truly enjoy the magic of the season. Don’t cave in to the hustle and bustle! Here are 12 ways to keep the “merry” in Christmas and enjoy a slow holiday you can savor.
1. Make a list and check it twice.
Maybe you have a mental list of everything you need to do and when you need to do it. But it helps to have a written list or calendar to see the big picture. If your shopping needs to be done by a certain date, write that down. If your neighbors have a yearly bash on the second Saturday of December, write that down.
The point of this is to see everything in one place so you can get an idea of what’s happening and when. Don’t like what you’re seeing? Reorganize your calendar and your to-do list to reflect the Christmas you want to have this year.
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2. Do a little bit here and a little bit there.
Delaying something until the last minute is rarely a good idea. Christmas shopping is the perfect example of that! Many people wait until halfway through December and then dash to the malls in a panic to buy gifts. But the good news is, you’re starting early! Aren’t you feeling more relaxed already? You probably just added five years to your life!
Trying to do all your Christmas shopping or cooking in one weekend can push you over the edge. Instead, keep it simple! It might be easier to shop for one or two people on your list each day. The idea is to have fun buying gifts for others and not make it feel like a chore.
Make a Christmas bucket list and fill it with fun and festive things to do throughout the season. That way, you’re making Nana’s Christmas cookie recipe at the beginning of the month instead of trying to cram it in on Christmas Eve. You can even freeze cookie dough ahead of time and pull it out when you’re ready to bake it. Spacing things out during the season can help you stay in the spirit of things and keep the holiday stress low!
3. Shop at off-times.
Shop early, shop early, shop early. Since you started saving for Christmas early, you can shop early too. You’ll never have to worry about inventory being too low and stooping to tug of war with another desperate parent over the last Turbo Man action figure. Phew! You won’t have to worry about price gouging on popular items either.
If possible, take a couple hours off work on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning to do some Christmas shopping when there aren’t as many people cruising the mall. It’ll take less time and energy when there are no crowds to fight.
Or keep your holiday stress level at bay and do all your Christmas shopping online. There’s nothing wrong with that! Plus, being able to see the items in your cart can help keep you from overspending. And you’ll probably save a bundle with all those coupon codes offered online. Win-win! On top of that, you’ll have plenty of time for things to arrive at your front doorstep. No paying $45 for overnight shipping for you.
4. Don’t spend 40 hours a week on social media.
Stay away from the comparison trap, especially at Christmastime. Hide your eyes from the perfectly curated Instagram feeds and the DIY rabbit hole of Pinterest.
Don’t waste this joyous time of year apologizing to your friends and family because you didn’t bake every item from scratch or create an elaborate story each day for that pesky Elf on the Shelf! In Love Your Life, Not Theirs, Ramsey Personality Rachel Cruze said, “I’ve come to realize that when we start comparing ourselves to other people, we’re playing a game we’ll never win.”
5. Don’t overcommit and overextend yourself.
Most likely, your December schedule is sure to include party invitations out the chimney. But you don’t have to do everything on your calendar. You are in control! Remember, you can’t be everywhere at the same time. You can only attend so many family dinners, drive so far, and give so much. Just like with your money, you have limits with your time.
Be reasonable with what you can handle. Instead of going to five Christmas gatherings, pick one or two. You don’t want to burn out before Christmas Day even gets here! Prioritize your family’s time and only commit to what you want to do. It’s all about quality, not quantity.
6. Decorate like a minimalist.
We all like to be just as festive as the next guy—no one wants to be a Grinch. But don’t feel like you have to put up a Christmas tree in every room of your house. This isn’t Whoville.
Instead of decorating the entire house, keep it simple by decorating the tree and the mantel. Focus on your main living spaces where your family gathers most often. Take some of the pressure off yourself and ignore the urge to create a winter wonderland inside (or outside) your home this year.
7. Outsource to friends.
Some stuff just has to be done. You can’t get rid of everything on the list. But if you start feeling the pressure, consider enlisting some friends or family to help you out.
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Maybe that’s trading off with a fellow parent to cart your kids to and from Christmas pageant rehearsals or asking your friends and family to bring side dishes to Christmas meals. Pay the kids some cash to wrap all your presents (well, the ones that aren’t theirs), or pick up store-bought cheesecake for your Christmas potluck at work. Whatever it is, just make sure it’s in your budget, and get ready to feel the holiday stress melt away.
8. Stick to your daily rituals.
Try to keep as much of your routine in place as you can during the scattered schedule of the Christmas season. If your average day starts with getting up, pouring yourself a cup of coffee, and reading the newspaper, don’t skip that. Having some normalcy can help keep you calm and focused on the day ahead. Plus, it’s a great way to keep your sanity . . . especially if your house is filled to the brim with guests for the holidays.
9. Don’t have too much of a good thing.
Yes, it’s true: “Stressed” spelled backward is “desserts.” If you cut back on all the holiday stress, then maybe your waistline will thank you too. You can still indulge in the sweet stuff while using moderation. Just don’t go overboard. At least try to eat a little better than Buddy the Elf’s diet of candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup.
And don’t forget about exercise! It can help keep the Christmas pounds off and lower your holiday stress level. If you can’t make time to get to the gym, make time to move. Take the stairs at work, get up every hour or so and take a lap around the office, or lift small weights while you’re on the phone or watching television. You can even bundle up and go on your own Christmas lights walking tour. Maybe your exercise is just combining your Christmas shopping with walking in the mall. Anything is better than nothing!
10. Out with the old, in with the new.
No one wants to feel like their house is a cluttered mess with new gifts piled on top of old ones. This is a great time to sort through and organize your clothes, garage, and old toys. Sell or donate the stuff you know you don’t use anymore—or wrap some of it up for gag gift exchanges.
11. Make a Christmas budget.
You saw this one coming, right? No shocker here—we’re reminding you to do your Christmas budget, again. So, have you done it yet? Take some time to think about all your Christmas expenses and decide exactly how much you will spend.
Be sure to include all the parties you want to go to and the cost of gifts, food and decorations. Despite all of the holiday hoopla, stick to your plan no matter what! If you haven’t done your budget yet, what are you waiting for? Get our free budgeting tool EveryDollar! It can help you stay on track with meeting your goals this Christmas.
12. Remember what the Christmas season is about.
Christmastime is meant to be filled with joy, merriment and thankfulness. Carve out time with family and friends to reconnect with one another. You want to actually remember Christmas this year, right? The idea is to be intentional—don’t let the month go by in a total blur.
Slow down and think about what you really want to do this season. Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle that you forget to enjoy the people you’re doing all this for. By starting early, you’ll be able to have a merry—and much slower—Christmas!
Want a great way to reduce stress, learn how to be content, and love your own life? Pick up Rachel Cruze’s New York Times best seller, Love Your Life, Not Theirs in hardcover and audiobook at a great low price.