Today marks 75 days till Christmas and I’m already getting prepared (don’t worry y’all, I’m not decorating yet). I’d be lying if I said I’m not tempted to play Christmas music already but I’ll begrudgingly hold off till Black Friday. Besides the shopping, the holidays can be stressful thanks to the other components of the season like attending or hosting holiday parties and making time to do activities with the family. The season can get stressful quickly if you don’t get ahead of it. Here are 5 things you should do now to minimize holiday stress.
While I’m not yet setting up my tree and decor, I am getting ready in a few other ways that might be helpful to you. The point of this short list is to minimize holiday stress that creeps up as the holidays approach–I like to call it the holiday hustle. I’ll never forget a dreadful experience I had a few years ago when I went gift shopping with a friend who did her holiday hustle 2 weeks before Christmas. The lines were out the door, the shelves were rummaged through and the spirit was temporarily devoured by the overwhelming experience. Luckily for me, my shopping, decorating and gift wrapping were finished early but I promised myself that I would keep up my early holiday preparation to avoid the overwhelming experience I witnessed her have.
Here’s a short list of things I’m doing now to get ready for the season and minimize holiday stress.
1. Set the seasonal budget
I create a rough sketch of our holiday calendar then I use that to create my budget for the season. My budget covers: gift-buying, new Christmas decorations, local events and small activities I want to do at home (e.g., decorating a gingerbread house). I don’t fill in the specific details yet–this is just a rough estimate of what my spending limit will be for the season.
2. Create a gift list
Once the budget is roughly set, I let it guide my shopping list. I create a spreadsheet listing every person I’m buying for plus the gift(s) I’m getting them. I’ll start buying a few items around the end of October. I know that seems so early but beginning early lets me space out my spending and buffer time in the event of shipping delays. Two years ago, I ordered D a pair of shoes online and the store sent him UGGs instead of the shoe I actually paid for. Luckily it was November so I had plenty of time to mail the UGGs back and wait for the right order to arrive.
3. Take inventory of all holiday decor
Look through your current holiday decor to see what you have and determine what you still need. I tried to flock my artificial tree last year and it was a complete bust so I’m completely tree-less which, I completely forgot about until I took inventory of my decorations. If you have the budget, start buying holiday decor now. Stores like Target and Hobby Lobby are already displaying their Christmas decor–some are even having Christmas decor sales. Take a look then buy items like decorations and tableware when you can.
4. Book or take holiday photos
Everyone always thinks holiday photos can be taken in late November and they probably can but the point of this list is to help you minimize the holiday hustle. I work backwards to figure out when I should have our holiday photos taken. Here’s how I approach it:
- Set the date for when I want the cards to arrive to friends and family
- Set the date for when I need to put the cards in the mail so they arrive on time
- Determine when the cards need to arrive at my house from the vendor (e.g., Shutterfly, Minted)
- Determine when I need to order the cards from the vendor so they arrive to me on my desired date
- Discuss with the photographer the estimated turnaround time to receive the edited photos
- Select a deadline for when the photos need to be taken given the other details above
I think that list was my version of telling you I’m Type A without telling you I’m Type A. Needless to say, it’s October 11 and we’ve taken our holiday photos already. I can’t tell y’all how good it feels to have one less thing to worry about.
5. Research local holiday events including parties your friends and family are hosting
Finally, I not only research events happening in our area but I also check in with friends and family to see if anyone is considering hosting a holiday party. Of course I’m not looking for all the details but knowing an estimated date is always helpful for planning purposes. Now that we have a baby, everyone wants to spend time with her during the holidays so having an idea of our holiday plans makes it easier to coordinate with family and friends. This also helps with item 1–the budget. If a friend is hosting a holiday party, I can earmark $20 or so for a bottle of wine we’ll take with us to the party. Or if I need a babysitter for Harper so D and I can attend an event, that goes in the overall holiday budget.
It’s also possible that you may want to host a holiday party this year. If you do, the planning should start now. Determine the party location and invite list then start putting feelers out to see what date generally works well for most of the list. Send the invitations out 4-6 weeks before the event and include an RSVP deadline so you have some to sort out food and drinks.
I’m sure some of you may have exhaled a sign at even the mention of Christmas but to my Type-A tribe, I hope this list was helpful. I’m a big fan of enjoying the season but it’s hard to do it unless you minimize holiday stress. I hate getting to the end of the season and feeling more exhausted than I did at the start of it–I need to enter the next year feeling refreshed, well-rested and well-loved. Planning early keeps the stress to a minimum and creates more opportunity to completely immerse yourself in the season.