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 Do you have the Holiday Blues? The holidays used to be super stressful for me. Now I focus on preparing for the holiday's in advance so that I'm not stressing out last minute. These 5 tips will help you avoid holiday stress. #Stressfreeholidayplanning #stressfreechristmas #christmasbudget

5 Tips To Ensure A Stress-Free Holiday Season:

I just realized it is the start of the holiday season.  I don’t know why this time of year catches me by surprise, but it always does.

Every year, I swear I’m going to be prepared for the holiday season and I never quite make it.

I thought if I sat down and put together a guide maybe it would help me be a bit more organized which will help with handling holiday stress.

I know that everyone celebrates the holiday season slightly differently, so not all of this tips will be applied to everyone.  The goal is to help get you organized in general though for pretty much any busy time in your life.

1.  Plan an extensive cleaning day 1-2 months before the holiday season.

This year, my daughter is getting married in late October, so for us, this means now.

I started with my bedroom yesterday and am going to do one room a week until the house has been thoroughly cleaned.  My house needs a lot of TLC, so depending on your current level of cleaning this could be an easier task for you.

You may also want to consider hiring professional cleaners.  There is nothing better than having someone else wash your walls and windows and clean the bathrooms.

I’m on a mission to pay off our home, so no extra’s for me right now, so I’ll most likely do all of the work myself.

I recommend starting with one room and then working outward from there.  I’ve found that it is really easy to get distracted if I just say I’m going to clean.

I’ll be doing something in my bedroom, take something into Ella’s room and then get distracted by the mess in her room.  I’ll start cleaning something in her room and then repeat the process all over again when I put a towel away in the hall closet.

Set a task list and then stick to it.  Only move on from your chosen task when you are actually finished.

2. Begin shopping early

This is all-encompassing.  I typically begin shopping for stocking stuffers, Halloween costumes (check out my awesome KFC costume from last year), and party outfits now.

I’ve got two wedding to attend in addition to the normal holiday parties, so I’ve got to plan everything out in advance to stay within my holiday budget.

On a side note – check out ThredUp, the absolute best tool for staying on budget with your clothing shopping – it is a great resource for holiday parties.

I’ll typically sit down and do a quick brainstorming session.  I calendar out all of my upcoming events and then write down what I’ll need for them.

For example:

  • Late October – Abby’s Wedding
    • Ella – Flower Girl Outfit (Purchased Through Thredup)
    • Amy – Mother of the Bride Dress – Done
  • Halloween
    • Need costumes for Me, Aaron and Ella (Help – I need ideas. We won two parties with our KFC Costume last year – Baby Dressed as a Chicken in a KFC Bucket – How do I top that costume?)
  • Michael & Rebecca’s Wedding (early November)
  • Thanksgiving
  • Elk Hunting Trip – Mid-December
  • Aaron’s Work Christmas Party
  • My Work Christmas Party
  • Christmas

Once I have a general idea of the events, I’ll add in the clothing/gifts I’ll need for the events.  By starting a running list early in the season I’m able to find great deals and avoid a lot of the last minute shopping that stresses me out so badly.

Busting your budget over the Holiday’s is really common and can cause a lot of stress on your personal finances.  When you shop early with a list, you have a significantly better chance of staying on budget, then when you do last minute shopping.

3. What events will you be hosting?

This goes with the second point but deserves its own section. Hosting around the holiday’s can be a ton of fun, but tends to be stressful as well.

I’m not sure what we’ll be hosting yet, but we always host at least 1-2 gatherings this time of year.  With Abby’s wedding, I think I can safely say we’ll be doing more hosting then normal.

Once you figure out what events you’ll be hosting you’ll need to work out some of the following details:

  • Seating arrangements
    • Depending on the size of your gathering you may need to borrow additional chairs/tables. Plan out seating arrangements in advance to make your life a bit easier.
  • Menu
    • I’m all about simple! We have a pit in our backyard and for large holiday’s typically cook a pork shoulder, beef shoulder, and turkey.
    • Don’t get so hung up on the menu that you forget why you are celebrating. My goal is to have all of the cooking and prep work done long before anyone arrives so that I can enjoy my time with family and friends.
    • This is a bit of a side note, but we use paper and plastic at our party’s. I don’t want to spend hours cleaning after a party and have found that paper works just as well and keeps me sane.
  • Food Assignments
    • We always do some form of potluck. We typically take care of the main dish and some sides and then have family and friends do sides, drinks & desserts.
    • Splitting the responsibilities takes a lot of pressure (and cost) off the events.

Hosting Holiday events can become very expensive.  I focus on purchasing the meat and other high dollar items in advance and freezing them when possible.  As mentioned earlier, I also do a lot of potluck type meals.  My friends and family are always happy to contribute and their contributions saves me money, time and frustration.

4. Gifts

The holiday season is a time for gift giving.  I love Christmas, but I am not a huge gift person.  To me, the holiday’s are about spending time with family and friends and creating memories.

What I’ve done to compromise is the following:

  • Keep my gift list very small
    • I don’t give gifts to everyone in my life. I stick to family and a few close friends.  I do small token gifts to coworkers.
    • I set a strict budget
      • I know this isn’t always well received, but for my older kids, I have a set amount available. I tell them the amount and let them give me a couple of gift ideas based on that amount.
      • I’ve also given them gift certificates based on the amount as well. One of my daughters love shopping at a variety of stores, so last year, I gave her a selection of $25 gift certificates to her favorite stores. I feel like a slacker for not making the gifts more meaningful, but I know that the money will go to good use and she loves it.

Everyone has a different way of managing their holiday gift shopping.  I don’t think your method really matters.  What is important is that you are setting a budget and planning your spending.

You can read more about how I avoid busting my holiday spending budget.

5. Let the little things go.

I used to get really uptight about the holiday’s and wanted everything to be perfect.

It wasn’t worth the hassle and stress I put myself through.  Now, I just focus on preparing as much as I can in advance.  Once I’ve put in the preparation time, I let everything else go.

Do my decorations look perfect? No.  Do I even decorate for Halloween or Thanksgiving?  No

My focus is on making memories.  My house isn’t going to be perfectly clean and have designer decorations.  However, I’ll have great food and everyone feels comfortable in my home.

My number one goal is to make sure that anyone who comes into my home over the holidays feels welcome.  As long as I’ve accomplished this goal, I consider it a success.

Looking back I’ve come to realize that I struggled because I felt like people were judging my parties, home decorations, and gifts.  As I’ve grown older and learned to let the opinions of others go I’ve come to realize that no one cares if my home is perfectly decorated.

Everyone else is just doing their best as well and is a whole lot more interested in feeling welcome and loved in my home.  I can do loved and welcoming!

Handling Holiday Stress Doesn’t Need To Make You Crazy

When I sit down and plan out my holiday season and prepare in advance a big chunk of the stress and anxiety of the holidays disappears.

Focus on what matters.  Set your priorities and focus on the things that matter the most to you.  Spend the time and the money you have allocated and then let the rest go.

I love the holiday season now.  I love the food, family, friends, and memories I make throughout Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.  However, you choose to celebrate I hope you have an amazing Holiday Season full of love, family & friends.