The holidays can be a magical time of year, but most of us spend it stressed, worried, ill and broke. Over the years I’ve learned a few tricks that help me manage my stress so that I can actually enjoy the holidays! Here are my stress free holiday secrets:
The plan. It’s best to start this at least a month in advance if you want to do lots over the holidays. Make a list of what your perfect holiday would be like, this is your vision. Brainstorm what you’d have to do to make this happen, this is your project list. Beside each project, estimate the amount of time you’d need to complete each one, including shopping time for supplies. Then work backwards on a calendar, schedule your project due dates and time to work on them.
Reassess the plan. Once you have your plan charted out, reevaluate it all to see if it’s a realistic pursuit. Have you considered for a lower energy output from the lack of sun? Will you be sacrificing “me” time to cram it all in? If you’re getting anxious looking at your schedule book, it’s probably a sign to make it all more manageable.
Budget. Now that you have a good idea what you want to do and created a budget for your time, make a holiday financial budget… and stick to it! This will help you keep your financial sanity/security AND help maintain the true meaning of the season.
Be Realistic with your Financial Limits. Instead of giving everyone and their grandmother a gift and falling face first into debt, starting the New Year in the red, I try to be unmerciful with my gift list. I buy gifts only for my immediate family. The next ring in my social circle is the biggest and they get yummy homemade cookies. I send cards to my other peeps who I think of fondly but probably won’t have a chance to see over the holidays.
Money vs. Time. Rather than get sucked into the consumerism of the holidays, I prefer to spend time on my gifts. I do this mainly through baking cookies and delivering them in person for a visit either during or right after the holidays. Often I’m still celebrating Christmas in late January!
Reassess your plan on a weekly basis to see how you’re progressing. Do you need to knock a project off the list or get some assistance?
Aim to simplify. It’s natural to shoot high but if you want to stay stress free, it’s important to choose the most fulfilling activities and do away with the extras.
If you’re having trouble scratching projects off your list, be more strict with your time per project. For instance, if you normally spend 4 hours decorating your home, knock it in half. Or even schedule an hour and get someone to help you! You can make it a bonding experience.
A few beliefs that I’ve decided to accept that make it easier for me to stay stress free and debt free for the holidays:
1. Just because someone gives you a gift doesn’t mean you have to give one in return.
2. It’s not to price of a gift that’s important, it’s the thoughtfulness behind it.
Do you have any tips, tricks or beliefs to stay stress free (and debt free) over the holidays? Please share them in a comment below!