The pressure of finding the perfect gifts, being “Santa’s Little Helper,” attending a dozen social events, and entertaining family can add up quickly. It takes one Saturday afternoon at the mall in December to make anyone want to pull their hair out from holiday stress. But how do we manage? We can’t drop everything and camp out under the covers in our pajamas until January (though obviously we recommend this approach over any other).
Here are some quick, practical tips for lightening your load and getting ahead of holiday stress this winter.
8 Tips for Less Work and More Joy This Christmas
1. Outsource the decorating.
If you’re spending every weekend between Thanksgiving and New Year’s at a family event, corporate soiree, or a neighbor’s ugly sweater party, that doesn’t leave a lot of time to hop on a ladder and string lights. It might be worth hiring someone to put them up and take them down for you. Today with services like Taskrabbit, Thumbtack, and Angie’s List, it’s easier than ever to find a top-rated professional and get instant quotes for just about anything around the house. Spend less time on the roof and more time relaxing with your loved ones. It might be more affordable than you think.
2. Store-bought is perfectly acceptable.
It’s Q4 crunch time at work and you need to bring a side dish to your best friend’s Christmas party. Don’t overthink it. If rushing to cook the dish will leave you frazzled before the party, then don’t cook the dish! Plenty of grocery stores offer an impressive selection of beautiful and tasty by-the-pound side dishes, especially around the holidays. If you’re self-conscious, bring it to the party in your own serveware to give it a homemade touch.
3. Strategic ‘me time.’
Pencil in your ‘me time’ this holiday season along with all your other commitments. If you know you’re going to be schlepping shopping bags over the weekend, schedule a cheap pedicure at the end of your shopping run to give yourself and your aching feet some TLC. Merry Christmas to you!
4. Bake with love, not from scratch.
Just as there is no shame in bringing a store-bought side dish to a holiday party, if you don’t have the time to make cookies from scratch, the ready-made dough tastes delicious and bakes up beautifully every time. Your kids will remember decorating the cookies with you, not the hours you spent rolling and chilling the dough to perfection.
5. A quiet night in your PJs.
In all the holiday craziness, it’s easy to overschedule yourself and your family. The end result is getting burnt out on other people’s company. Make sure you set aside one night over a weekend in December where you all can stop to enjoy each other’s company and reconnect. Have a Christmas movie marathon while you sip hot cocoa in your flannels as a family.
6. Put an end to gift-related stress.
Agonizing over the perfect personalized gift for every member of your extended family will get you nowhere. Shop for your immediate family, then think of a thoughtful little something for everyone else. If you’re into baking, consider sending everyone a batch of homemade biscotti. Another popular option is sending gift baskets or edible arrangements to each family unit instead of buying individual gifts for all your brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews. Include a personalized note about how much they mean to you, how happy you are to have them in your life, etc. It really is the thought that counts, not the gift receipt.
7. Eat vegetables.
This piece of advice might sound like a buzzkill, but when there’s less time for exercise, healthy eating becomes even more important. Throughout December there is sugar around every corner — every holiday party, every meeting in the office, every gift basket. Sugary treats and stress don’t mix! You’ll feel far less guilty about indulging if you’re filling your plate with veggies during your other meals.
8. Learn to say no.
If your family does have a tendency to overextend yourselves every holiday season, maybe this is the year you learn to say no. Commit to just two holiday parties instead of five, ask another relative to host Christmas Eve dinner, or keep your celebration intimate and quiet. Understanding your limits is a the key to managing stress. Committing yourself to fewer “extras” is a great way to stay ahead of the curve.
For more festive ideas for the holiday season, visit The Pajama Company at our blog, thepajamacompany.com/blog.