5 Ways to Make Your Holidays Less Stressful Starting Now

Self on 11.07.12
Contributor bio | twitter

Image: Lisa Peardon/Getty Images

For many people, the holidays are a time of great stress, particularly when it comes to time and money. In addition to their jobs and taking care of the kids, there are parties to attend, meals to prepare, houses to clean before the in-laws arrive, and gifts to buy. It’s not quite time to put the turkey in the oven or pull out the Christmas lights just yet, but there are still many things you can do now to prepare for the holidays that will help ensure that your holiday season is jolly.

1. Plan Your Menus- Whether you are cooking the whole meal or just bringing a side dish, determine what it is that you’re responsible for on the menu now and make a shopping list of the items you’ll need. Then each week as you do your grocery shopping, look for those items on sale and buy them when they are less expensive. Just about everything can be bought in advance and frozen or stored in the pantry except for some of the fresh fruits and vegetables.

2. Bake Now- Whether you are making cookies and fudge to give as teacher and office gifts, for a cookie swap, to serve at your own home, or to bring as a hostess gift as you party hop through the neighborhood, the time to make those things is not on the days you have an event to attend, presents to wrap, or a house to clean. Most cookies and treats can be frozen without any problem so pick a day in the near future before you are bombarded with holiday activities and make them while you’ve got the time to spare.

3. Make Your Gift List- While you may not be ready to shell out the cash for all the gifts you need to buy, now is a good time to decide what you are going to buy for people. Do your research online, and even put the items in your shopping cart so that with each payday you can complete the purchase of a few items to spread out the impact on your wallet. While you may get a better deal on an item if you wait longer to purchase it, beware that inventory on that item will also be lower and it may not be available still so purchase your must-have gifts first or choose a back-up one as well.

4. Order Your Holiday Cards- Unless you’ve still got to take a family picture, there’s no reason to wait to order your holiday cards. You don’t have to send them out until the time is right, but get them ordered and get those envelopes addressed before December 1, and you’ll have a major time suck marked off your to-do list.

5. Assign Tasks- Many women take on all of the responsibility of the holidays for their entire family. Give your partner and children tasks to do as well and let them know now what those tasks are going to be so that they are prepared for it, and it doesn’t become a fight when the time to get the tasks done roll around. Teens can be responsible for hanging the holiday lights, wrapping presents for extended family, and helping with the cooking and cleaning. Partners can assigned the task of shopping for their side of the family, and helping to clean and decorate the house and cook the meal.

The holidays are meant to be a joyous time spent with loved ones. Spread the work part of the holidays out over several weeks so that you can truly enjoy the time spent with family and friends and not stressing over whether you can squeeze everything into the little time you’ve got on the actual days of your celebrations.

Top Articles on Stress Free Holidays:
What Stress? Why I'm Embracing the Holiday Season
3 Steps to a Low-Stress Thanksgiving Meal
5 Ways to Stay Out of Debt This Holiday Season