As a child, I looooooved the holidays. It meant no school, sleeping in, and lots of yummy food. As I’ve come to host some Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners of my own as a grownup, I realize how stressful the holidays can be. You want to buy the biggest and best gifts for everyone while also trying to cook up the perfect meal. In short, you try hard to make everyone happy, but in the end, it just makes you tired and stressed. Here are some rules I’ve implemented for myself to ensure stress-free holidays.
Set a Budget
I think it’s in our nature to want to impress and please others. Around holiday time, that can mean we drop big bucks to try to impress family and friends. To nip this in the bud, set a budget for yourself. Have a clear understanding of how much you’re going to spend this holiday season and stick to it.
You are the one who gets to decide how much you want to spend, not anyone else. By setting a budget early on, you won’t be swayed into spending the money you don’t have. Before you do anything else this holiday season, set a budget for yourself.
Make a List
It is critical that you create a list of everything that needs to be done for the holidays. I recommend that your further break down your list by putting items in the categories of “must get done” and “would be nice to have done.”
Making a list helps you visualize everything and can help relieve stress once you realize the list isn’t as long as it was in your head. Also, focus on the things that absolutely positively have to be done. Work on those first. If you have extra time, you can tackle the stuff that would be nice to have done.
For example, it’s probably pretty important that you make sure to have on hand all the food you’re planning on serving your guests. That’s a must do. It would be lovely if you’re able to deep clean your house and make it spotless for your guests. If it doesn’t get done though, no big deal. No one’s gonna notice the small spec of dust on the windowsill. By prioritizing your tasks, you can lower your stress because the task list becomes much more manageable.
Since you have a list of everything that needs to be done, you can start tackling the items one by one. To relieve the stress, start early. Don’t wait to do everything until the last minute.
I like to start with the hard stuff. These are things that take more time or involve a lot of planning. If you plan on serving something you’ve never made before, it doesn’t hurt to practice and test out the recipe a few months or weeks beforehand. Nothing is more stressful than realizing on the day of the holiday that the recipe you used really sucks.
Once I get the hard stuff out of the way, I can relax more. There are always little things you’re gonna have to take care of right up to the actual holiday. But, you won’t be stressed out because all the hard stuff will have been taken care of already.
Don’t Be a Perfectionist
When people think back on the holidays, it’s not the perfection that they remember. It’s how much fun they had, the jokes and stories shared, and the time spent together with family and friends.
Everyone wants the holidays to be perfect but you know what, no one’s perfect and trying to obtain perfection will just drive you bonkers. Look at the list you made for yourself and focus on the things that are within your control. You have control over the type of food you want to serve, but you can’t control how people are going to react to it. So, focus on making the best meal you can and don’t worry about whether people will like it.
Devote your energy to things you have can control. Even if things don’t turn out the way you planned, everyone will still be fine. People care that you took the time and effort to host them for the holidays. Sometimes when things go awry, that’s when the best memories are created.
One year, I was making potato salad for Thanksgiving and halfway through I realized the glass mixing bowl had a chipped edge. No one could figure out when glass went and out of concerns for safety, I threw out the entire bowl of salad. There was no potato salad to be had that Thanksgiving, but that did not ruin our holiday. In fact, we still joke about it to this day.
Re-Think Gift Exchange
With the holidays, come the expectations of gifts. I think gifts can be a fun way to express to friends and families that you care about them. However, gifts are not meant to be a way to one-up each other and compete to see who spends more money. It’s also not necessary that you buy 10 presents for every single family member. Not only will that cost ridiculous amounts of money, people will likely end up with things they don’t need which leads to waste.
Think about doing a Secret Santa exchange or pool your money together and donate it to charity. You can buy toys and together as a family, bring them to a children’s hospital. Make your own family traditions for what gifting means. Don’t feel like you have to measure up to someone else’s expectations.
Finally, the way to enjoy a stress-free holiday season is to delegate! Remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. The holidays are about being with your loved ones. You don’t have to show off and prove to everyone how capable you are. If help is offered, take it! If you feel overwhelmed, ask for help! Don’t be afraid to divvy up tasks if that will help alleviate the stress.
You don’t have to make dinner, clean the house, buy gifts, provide entertainment, and cater to your guests’ every whim all on your own. No one will think less of you if you spread out some of the work. You’ll only be happier for it. 😉
Do you get stressed out by the holidays? What are your tips for dealing with it?