The words “Stress Free” and “Holiday” are not typically said in the same sentence, but I’ve got some tips for a stress free holiday that should help you out! The winter holidays have become my favorite time of the year and for us – most of the time – we DO have stress free holidays! We have multiple branches of family to coordinate with every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas but it’s always a fun season for us instead of being stressful.
9 Simple Tips for a Stress Free Holiday
1. Start Early
Like SUPER EARLY! We start discussing our holiday calendar around the time school starts in August. No joke. We set the dates for who will be where the weekends before and after Christmas and on Christmas day usually no later than August, and then we revisit the dates again in October to confirm them. Once the dates are set, we typically don’t change them unless there’s a family emergency. That makes last-minute changes non-existent, leading to stress free holidays!
2. Choose Late Afternoon or Evening Gatherings
When you have plans for an event that starts later in the day, you have the whole morning to prep or finalize details that you forgot the day before. Also, twinkle lights at night are way more cozy than in the middle of the day! Evening ambience can help you relax and enjoy your gathering which helps to make it a stress free holiday.
3. Make A Plan
Decide what you’ll be doing at the holiday gathering, and then plan it. Like in detail! Decide what you’re eating, what games you’re playing, presents or no presents, get all the details down and then no one is rushing around last-minute creating holiday stress and freaking out.
For example, if you have high-stress holidays with difficult relatives, part of your plan might be to decide ahead of time how long each parent will monitor children before you switch. Or, part of the plan might be that when Aunt Judy starts in on her fifth glass of wine and starts discussing extracurricular adult activities, you round up your kiddos and head on outta’ there! Another part of the plan might be deciding how long is too long and planning to leave before you get to that cut off period. For some families, you might need to determine a code word to use when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed by the family drama so you can make your exit. Making a game plan for how you will handle difficult situations before you get into them totally reduces the holiday stress levels of dealing with difficult family members at the holiday gatherings.
4. Lighten the Load – Delegate
Don’t rely on yourself to get everything done. Assign food responsibilities to family members, assign house cleaning chores to everyone in your immediate family (even little bitty kiddos can help “clean up pick up put away”), let your sisters help you chop veggies, assign the chore of getting “grown up drinks” to the brothers, etc. Everyone can help, and that way everyone is responsible for how the evening goes, not just you. Less responsibility = less stress!!
5. Make a Menu and Go Shopping the Week Before
We all know food makes the gathering, so plan a menu and get all the food the week before the event to create stress free holidays. You’ll know what to prep, you’ll have plenty of time to do it, and you can even make some things ahead of time and freeze them so you can reduce time in the kitchen too.
6. Set the Table the Day Before
For some people, setting the table is just another check mark, but for me, I feel like a festive table creates a place for community. I don’t want to rush to set the table, and I don’t want the table to be a check mark on a list. I want the table to be cozy and welcoming and intentional, so I always set the table the day before. It’s one less thing on the day-of holiday to-do list, it reduces my stress, and my guests feel special when they sit down to a yummy meal at a pretty table.
7. Designate A Child’s Play Area and An Adult Area
If you have the space, it’s nice to separate the kids’ loud play areas from where the adults will be hanging out talking, but even if you have a smaller home, designating a corner of the living room as the “play area” will help lower the stress levels of the adults. Everyone will know that the chaos is contained to one part of the room which allows the adults to relax. Part of the joy of the holidays is relaxing, so giving adults an area to just “adult” is a great way to reduce stress associated with holiday gatherings.
8. Buy Gifts Early – And Then Wrap Them Early!
If you know gifts are on the party agenda, buy them early. And then GET THEM WRAPPED ASAP!!! Most people hate wrapping presents (I don’t, but I’m weird that way) and that’s why there’s such a thing as GIFT BAGS. Buy tons of gift bags and tissue paper, drop those awesome presents in those bags, and stick those suckers under the tree ASAP. (A trick to keep littles out of presents – tie jingle bells onto the packages. When they pick them up the bells ring and you can stop those pesky gift openers in their tracks!) Instead of spending your days dreading wrapping presents, you’ll get to enjoy your stress free holiday because you’ve already got one monumental task crossed off your list. And THAT, my friends, feels good!
9. Choose Your Attitude
All right friends. This one is the MOST IMPORTANT – and the HARDEST – on this list of ways to achieve stress free holidays. Be conscious of your attitude. No one MAKES us grumpy. No one MAKES us offended. No one MAKES us happy or joyful. We CHOOSE those things. So choose joy. Choose peace. Choose patience. Decide when you wake up that today WILL be a good day! This holiday WILL be a lovely, wonderful, memory-filled holiday! It will not be a stressful holiday. It will be a half-full glass kind of day. And when you choose to face the day with THAT attitude, it truly will be a stress free holiday!
Take the time to plan ahead for a stress free holiday. This 3 page brainstorming checklist can help you keep everything organized so you don’t forget any detail for your peaceful holiday. Just fill out the form below for your FREE checklist!
All the best,
P.S. Are there any other tips you’d add to this list? I’d love to hear them! Drop me a comment and let me know what you do to reduce the holiday stress.