Lori Lori is a work-at-home mom of three living in Noblesville, Indiana.

My family and I are off to a rough start health-wise this holiday season. Our family spent the middle of November fighting off a tummy bug. Then we traveled to celebrate Thanksgiving and came back with bad colds and fevers that have slowly made their way from one person to the next. I feel like the last few weeks have been a blur. I didn’t even have the chance to start thinking about the holiday stress survival tips we would need to start practicing just around the corner.

Finally, the house is (almost) healthy and we have all of our decorations up. I have been so excited for Christmas with my children this year (ages 4 and 2 1/2) and I feel like the stress and go-go-go mantra that is my life has made it tricky to relish the joy this month brings and what it means to me. I am confident I am not the only one who feels the holiday stress survival need that accompanies the joyous season. In order to relax and enjoy yourself this year, consider these six tips for holiday stress survival.

Holiday Stress Survival Guide To The Holidays

Max and his Great Grandpa Vincent
in Evansville.

Plan in advance when you will visit (or host) family.

It can be hard when you have countless places to visit during the holiday
season. While all of our family lives in Indiana, the same state where we live, we still have several places to visit that seem to be in opposite directions. We want to see my husband’s aging grandparents who cannot
drive to attend the family Christmases, both of my divorced parents, and the rest of the family spread through the state. Therefore, we log a lot of miles during the month of December.

To help make a plan and make sure you get to see everyone you love, set a date with your calendar and decide when you plan to visit each family. Double check to make sure the time works for them. This helps you control when you visit and ensures you see everyone you want and need to see instead of worrying about it.

Put you and your family on the calendar, too.

I made it a point to sit down with my paper calendar and write everything down to help myself relax. The days of December are full of holiday-related events to attend and places I want to take the kids (a local Christmas light show, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum, downtown where Santa sits in his house, and so on). The calendar also has work deadlines and appointments and play dates. I like to see everything all in one place. I also penciled in a time or two for me to get out for a few minutes alone.

Keep your spending within your budget.

Nothing is cheap today, that is for sure. I don’t want to be known as the cheap family member, but I also don’t want to break our budget by going on holiday shopping sprees. We do a lot of our shopping on Amazon and use coupons when possible. Our children are young, so they will both get four or five gifts (from us), and I know they will be satisfied. On one side of the family, we cap a budget of $30 per family, so we may buy a game and a Blu-ray for one family instead of buying individual gifts for everyone (my sister has five kids!). It seems to work quite well. The last thing anyone wants to do is accrue debt and spend January and February paying it off.

Avoid hectic holiday shopping.

While you cannot control what gifts are on your loved one’s wish lists, you can prepare yourself. Ask for lists early and buy some gifts for people ahead of time before the shopping season is in full swing.

Photo courtesy: flickr.com

Consider shopping online – I am a big fan of Amazon.com and I have found they tend to have the best prices anyway. Or support local small businesses by buying from friends with etsy sites.

Ask for help.

When you have jobs, children, a house to run, sick kids, and normal daily activities to keep up with, it can be hard and overwhelming to manage it all. In fact, just a few weeks ago we missed a birthday party because I was confused about the date (lots to keep track of!). Add in fulfilling shopping lists, decorating the house, wrapping presents, and driving out of town to enjoy time with family, and it is easy to become bogged down by activities that should be fun. Don’t be afraid to ask your spouse, a friend or loved one for help. Or at least vent to them! The holidays shouldn’t be a time you dread.

Don’t be afraid to say no.

This is a hard one, I realize, but it doesn’t have to be. If you have people trying to crash your place around the holidays or have friends begging you to pick them up at the airport at 2 a.m., tell them ‘no.’ It’s normal to have extra things to do around the holidays, but don’t feel like you have to say yes to every single invite and request that comes your way. Sometimes saying ‘no’ is the nicest thing you can do for yourself.

This holiday season, don’t be a Scrooge. It’s common to feel overwhelmed with the long lists of things to do, but remember to relax, take a deep breath and smell the gingerbread.

What tips would you include in the holiday stress survival guide? 

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Category: Family Free Time

Tags: Christmas