8 Steps to a Stress Free Holiday Season
Can you believe it? It’s already time to start thinking about the holidays and Christmas shopping. This time of year is my absolute favorite. I love everything about fall, but for me, Christmas is the icing on the cake. It is a time that can be extremely stressful for many people, but I have narrowed down 8 tips for a stress free holiday season.
I am one of those people that have been known to start decorating on November 1st. I always allow for Halloween to pass before I bring out all the Christmas stuff. For my parents, and most of my family, it’s way too early to decorate, but if I’m going through all the trouble to decorate all over then I’m going to enjoy it for more than a few weeks.
I know, it’s nearly impossible to have a completely stress free holiday season, but there are definite ways to reduce the amount of stress you put on yourself. By making things easier to handle, and planning things out, you can reduce the amount of stress you put on yourself.
Around mid-September, I start discussing plans with my husband. We talk about who we plan to buy for and start tossing out gift ideas with each other. A lot of what we discuss is quite informal but we are on the hunt for ideas and great deals
If we see something that is a perfect gift we will pick it up instead of waiting, especially if it’s on sale. Some things are either too hard to find once the Christmas rush is in full swing, or you can get a better deal by buying ahead of time. Actually, as I write this, one of my friends has everything bought already. I bow down to her, I’m not that far ahead of the game, even though I’d love to be.
This also works great because you avoid the last minute madness and crowds. There’s nothing more stressful than having to fight the crowds to get something a week or less before Christmas. People can be so rude, the crowds are heavy, and you’ve missed all the good sales already.
Budget for a few extra gifts
I always try to keep a stash of candles, wine, lotions or soaps on hand for those last minute gifts you forget about. These type of things I will raid when I need another soap for the bathroom or candle to burn, but they’re good enough to give as gifts when needed. They’re great for when you need a last minute hostess gift, teachers gift, or even for when someone surprises you with a gift.
I’ve been there before, someone mentions they bought you something small and your heart drops, you have to find something good to give them without blowing your budget completely. Grabbing some lotion or soap when Bath & Body Works has them on an amazing sale and just stashing them is the perfect answer. If you’re invited to dinner and need a little something for a hostess gift you will already have them.
Write everything down
I always keep a written list, whether it be on my phone or on paper, I write everything down and keep it with me. That way I can look at it when I find a potential gift, I can add it to the list, or pick it up and cross someone off the list.
This is my biggest tool against overspending. Once someone is done I know I either have to add to my budget (a big no-no for us) or I can write it down as a potential gift for birthdays or whatever else. I keep it all written down so that I don’t have to trust my memory.
Make a plan & Stick to it
This goes hand and hand with writing things down. We write out who we are buying for and make it known to everyone who matters. We will absolutely tell siblings we aren’t buying for them because we would rather buy for the kids. The line has to be drawn somewhere, especially when you’re working within a strict budget.
I write down all the ideas I have for each person on my list, so when I’m in the store I’m not scrambling for ideas and just grabbing whatever. My list travels everywhere with me from October through Christmas. If I find something good online, or in an advertisement, I make sure to add it to my list. Any and everything is written down as a possibility. I also plan out my extra gifts in this list.
Buy as you go
Unless you know something will be going on sale for a fantastic price, grab things as you find them. There’s no sense in waiting and worrying if the item will be there in a week or two. Just get it when you find it. You also run the risk of it being sold out, been there.
Even if it means hiding it somewhere for a couple months, getting the perfect gift is so worth it. It can be extremely stressful to have to search 5 stores trying to find that one thing you saw but didn’t get. I’m the person who finds a perfect gift on clearance in the middle of summer and will grab it so that I have it and I don’t forget. I put the persons’ name on it and set it aside. The trick is not forgetting a gift is sitting there come time to shop, I have definitely done that before. lol.
Having spent many years working in small retail shops, I am a major advocate for shopping in your local shops. These shops tend to carry the most unique items, give you personal service, and you’re helping people in your community, not a CEO that couldn’t locate your town on a map. Depending on the store, they might even gift wrap each gift for you. SCORE!
When you frequently shop your local stores, you will come to know the employees and business owners, they will help you pick out the perfect things, and can give you service you just can’t get in big box stores.
Taking part in Small Business Saturday is another great way to save some money in local shops. This event, if you haven’t heard of it, takes place the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and really has brought a focus back on shopping in small local businesses.
Take Time for Relaxation
I’m sure this won’t surprise you since you’re on a blog about taking time for yourself, but making sure you take time for yourself is absolutely key during the holiday season. Things can get hectic, and it can get hard to find the time, but it is still important to make it a priority each day.
This is when you can easily rely on doing your self care in 5 minute increments. I have written many posts about taking 5 minutes for yourself and included many ideas to make yourself feel special in a short time.
This one can be such a struggle but is so important. Choosing a budget and sticking to it completely is imperative to reducing stress. We run a cash only budget and put nothing on credit, so the holidays can be overwhelming when we don’t pay attention to our budget.
One of the first things I do each year is making a spreadsheet for our budget that is a master budget. I make it in a google spreadsheet so I can open it on my phone while I’m shopping, but I also keep a paper version because I’m still one of those people that prefer to have things handwritten. I’m also bad at math (and not afraid to admit it, HAHAHA) so I put equations in my spreadsheets to do the math for me. This keeps me in line as I shop. I can put in the total I spend and it tells me how much I have left to spend and updates as I go.
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What do you do to make your holiday shopping easier on yourself?