It’s the most wonderful time of the year… You know you sang that, not just read it. I actually sang the whole song as I was writing this. I’m still singing. Yes, it is only the first week of November but the Holiday season is in full swing. No matter where you go you are inundated by all things Christmas. I consider the holiday season to start in November and it to include Thanksgiving. Though we don’t decorate as much for Thanksgiving we still put just as much time, if not more, the day of preparing for the holiday.
If you are anything like me, not only do you get excited for the holidays, you also stress a little because there just aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week. I always feel like I am not doing enough and at the same time feel like I am busy all. the. time. But who am I kidding, I feel that all year long, I just feel the pinch more this time of year. So to help myself, and to help you, I’ve compiled ten tips to help keep stress levels down this year.
1- Set a schedule. Sit down with your family the beginning of November and write down what everyone has going on in the next 2 months. Include work parties, family parties, basketball games, school events. Having everyone there will make it so days don’t get double booked and you will feel less stressed knowing what you have ahead of you.
2-Set a budget. We’ve all heard this time and time again. Set an amount you want to spend on gifts and don’t spend any more than that. Easier said than done right? I want to take this a step further. Set a budget for EVERYTHING. Groceries, gas, eating out, misc. expenses. Since we’ve planned out what we’re doing ahead of time we will have a pretty good idea of what we will need to spend. If we can cut down on some expenses (Think buying a few extra Digorno pizzas instead of going out every other night) we won’t feel as bad when we spend more on gifts, because you know that’s going to happen. When I set a budget I like to give myself a 10% leeway. So if your budget is $500 for groceries, know it’s ok if you spend $550. This way you won’t be kicking yourself if you do go a little over.
3-It’s ok to say no. Now that you have a schedule and have a budget you don’t want to mess with that good flow you’ve got going on. Sure, things are going to come up that you didn’t know about three weeks ago, and you don’t have to say no to everything, but you also don’t have to say yes to everything. You know what I’m talking about. Your husband comes home from work on Thursday and says “Hunny tomorrow is our office potlock I need to bring an appetizer. What can you make?” or “Mom, I forgot to tell you , tomorrow is my turn to take treats to class, I want to take cookies.” or “Hey we are having a party this weekend you should come and bring those awesome chocolate-dipped pretzels you make.” Instead of spending all night in the kitchen, run to the store, or have your husband run to the store and pick something up. Remember that leeway room I was talking about. And it’s ok to not go to every event you get invited to.
4- Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. I am for sure guilty of this one. I look on Pinterest or Instagram and see all the cuteness that my friends and other moms are making and think to myself, “Man I really need to be more crafty.” I spend the better part of the night agonizing over what decoration I can make or what special recipe I can make. This needs to just stop. There is always, ALWAYS going to be someone who has more, is more crafty, or has an assistant helping them. And remember for that one person who you’re trying to compare yourself to there are probably 10 other people trying to compare themselves to you; that’s right because you are awesome!! So stop being so hard on yourself (and when I say yourself I am talking about myself too) and be happy with what you have.
5- Enjoy the day. Whether it is Thanksgiving or Christmas don’t jam pack the day with activities. This can be hard with several sets of grandparents (even harder if you or your spouse’s parents are divorced and you have multiple sets of grandmas and grandpas to visit). Talk to family ahead of time and set up times either before or after the holiday to get together. Not only will you have more time to spend with family, you won’t be as exhausted so the time will be more enjoyable. We spend Christmas Eve at my dad’s house, the day after Christmas at my mom’s and the Saturday (or Sunday if Christmas falls on a Saturday) after Christmas at my mother in law’s home. Talk with your family and be flexible. Some grandparents may get their feelings hurt (believe me I know) but just explain to them you want to have the best experience with them and trying to squeeze everything in to one day is very hard, and not as enjoyable.
6- Take some time for you. You know the holidays are the most wonderful time of year. But they can also be the most stressful. Take some time for yourself when you feel your batteries are running low. Ask your spouse to watch the kids while you take a hot bath, or go to get a warm drink and just relax. One of my favorite things to do is go to the library and get lost in a book. It doesn’t cost anything and it’s always quiet… something that my house is rarely.
The next 4 tips are for budget-friendly holiday tips.
7- Take your own family pictures. Finding the time and money to take family pictures this time of year can be difficult. Instead of stressing about how and when to take these pictures, in your schedule set a time to gather the family in the backyard, in front of the Christmas tree, or at a park and snap your own photos. If you don’t have a camera don’t fret, you still have a few options. You probably know someone that does, barter with them. Offer a free night of babysitting or to make a meal for them if they will take your family pictures. If that doesn’t work, most people have camera phones. Use these tips to help you shoot great pictures with the camera on your phone. Check out my Photography Pinterest Board for more inspiration and ideas.
8- Make your own Christmas cards. Even when you find deals on Christmas cards, they can still be expensive. And sometimes you need an odd number of cards. Where is the option to buy 37 cards?! There are several free programs you can use to create collages or edit pictures. PicMonkey is my favorite and here is a really easy tutorial on how to make Christmas cards there. Then just save them, send them to Walgreens, Walmart or Costco (or anywhere else that prints photos) and you’ve got your Christmas cards ready to send for a fraction of the price.
9- Make your own decorations. With Pinterest and the internet these days there is no end to the pictures and ideas of homemade decorations. Instead of spending money on things you will only use for 1-2 months a year; use things around the house to make your own decorations for near to nothing. Jennifer at Princess Pinky Girl has compiled a great list of super easy, affordable Chirstmas decor ideas.
10- Go for experiences vs. piles of presents. One of my favorite sayings now that I am a mom is “How do children spell love? T-I-M-E.” Five, ten, fifteen years from now, your kids aren’t going to remember that you did or didn’t get them everything on their wishlist. What they will remember is the time you spent together and the things that you did. I really don’t remember many of the gifts I got growing up but I do remember painting Christmas decorations with my dad and baking with my mom.
Still feel like you need some help with the holidays this year? I’ve got the perfect tool for you! Connie Sokol’s latest e-book Simplify & Savor. This 3 part book helps you make it through the Big 4: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years with tips and tricks on how to keep this time of year joyful not stressful and fun real life stories sharing how things went awry no matter how much planning went into the holiday. For just an extra $3 you can get the Holiday Gift Set which includes Simplify & Savor as well as two of Connie’s other books, Life Is Too Short and 40 Days With The Savior.
Because Connie is so awesome she is giving away a copy of her book AND her holiday planner to one lucky reader! Enter through the Rafflecopter below:
Join Connie for her first “Virtual Book Club”. Do you want to work personally with Connie to set goals, get feedback and read her book together? Email Connie at (http://conniesokol.com/about-connie/contact-connie/) and put BOOK CLUB in your message. She will be choosing 8 women to participate.