Minimize your holiday stress with our 10 holiday hacks

Woman drinking from a mug by the Christmas tree

The holiday season is a time of celebration and love, but it can also lead to increased stress. In a recent Healthline study, 62% of respondents stated that they felt stressed during the holidays. Stressors like finances, following a healthy diet, and over-scheduling keep many of us from fully enjoying the holiday season. Get back to what the holidays are really about with our 10 holiday hacks to minimize stress. 

How to have a stress free holiday

1. Declutter for company

There’s nothing more stressful than having a messy home when you’re expecting guests. Avoid the last minute cleaning where everything just ends up shoved into a spare room, and start prepping your home in advance. If you start early and can keep a cleaning schedule, it will allow you to do minimal cleaning the day of your event, therefore freeing up your time for other important to dos. 

If you have any items that you know you’ll never use, don’t just store them away, get rid of them! The more you get rid of, the less cluttered your home will seem. When you’re ready to purge those unwanted items, consider donating them, but keep in mind that you will likely have to drop items off on your own and there’s a chance charities might not accept all your items. If you want to save yourself some time, you can always hire a professional junk removal service, like 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. All you have to do is point! 

2. Decorate your interior and exterior in advance

Putting up decorations is the best way to transform your home into a holiday wonderland. But if you leave it too late, decorating can seem quite overwhelming. Save yourself the headache and set aside an evening in early December to fully deck the halls. A strategically placed wreath or garland can transform any door, archway, or staircase into a festive feature. Whether they’re real or artificial, Christmas trees are a great focal point and can tie the whole room together. Just be sure to recycle them properly.

When decorating the exterior of your home, there’s no need to be too elaborate, simple Christmas lights go a long way! If you’re installing lights yourself, make sure you have the proper equipment and are prioritizing your safety. If a ladder can't reach the highest peak of your house, it’s best to leave it. If you don’t have the right materials or the time to install lights yourself, let the professionals do it. Companies like Shack Shine will not only install your lights, but come back at the end of the season to take them down. 

3. Do your holiday baking ahead of time

It happens every year—the closer you get to the holidays, the busier you get! This can often lead to last minute or non existent baking. This year, save yourself some time by doing your holiday baking in advance! Many types of cookies, pies, and cakes freeze really well, meaning that no matter how early you do your baking, you’ll still have fresh-tasting treats to serve up during the holidays. 

An added benefit of making cake or cookies in advance is you don’t have to wait for them to cool down before frosting and decorating! Simply put your baking in airtight containers or secured with food wrap, and put them in the freezer. When you decide to decorate, just take your baking out of the freezer and you’re good to go, with no risk of melted frosting!

Keep in mind that cookies with higher fat content, such as shortbread cookies, tend to freeze better, so they can be made quite a while in advance. Whereas lighter types of cookies, like macarons, should be made closer to the holidays so you can serve them fresh. 

Mother and son baking cookies

4. Plan your holiday meals

Swap last minute scrambling in the kitchen with planning out all the meals you’ll be cooking. This way, you’ll be able to prioritize which items need to be cooked first and save yourself unnecessary trips to the grocery store. If possible, prep items in advance, such as chopping and peeling vegetables, so you can have more time interacting with your guests and less time stuck in the kitchen.

Planning also makes it easy to delegate. How many times has a friend or family member asked what they could bring to dinner? Planning your meals will make it easy to see where any gaps might be, which makes it much easier to answer that question and in turn, take some cooking off your plate. 

5. Give back to boost your mood

If you tend to feel stressed around the holidays no matter how much you prepare, take some proactive measures to minimize stress. While it may seem like volunteering adds more to your plate, it can actually help your mental and physical health. Giving back to others can help counteract the effects of stress, anger, and anxiety. It can also improve many other areas, such as confidence and happiness!

You can give back through holiday focused initiatives like community kitchens and toy drives, but there are many other ways you can give back in your community. To get inspired, check out these 10 charity donation ideas!

6. Organize a holiday gift exchange 

If you need to buy gifts for all your friends and family members it can become quite pricey and time-consuming. Make gift giving a little easier for yourself by organizing a gift exchange! Apps like Elfster make it easy to set up a Secret Santa gift exchange. You can submit all the names, set up rules, add wishlists, and have it automate the actual name draw portion, without everyone needing to be there in person. 

Another option is doing a White Elephant gift swap. While traditional White Elephant gift swaps are done with anything you can find around your house and end up being joke gifts, you can revamp it! Set a price limit and get some generic gifts that could appeal to the whole group.

Exchanging green present with red bows

7. Plan when to send out your holiday cards and gifts

Don’t wait until the last minute to send out your holiday cards or gifts! The closer it gets to Christmas the busier the postal system gets. To ensure your cards arrive in time, check with your local postal service, such as Canada Post or UPS when their cut-off date is for guaranteed arrival before Christmas. To make mailing even easier, you can order stamps online!

8. Block off one weekend in December for yourself

While it can be tempting to say yes to every single holiday event, it’s best to save one weekend in December for yourself. Pick one weekend and commit to saying no to events or extra tasks. Whether your weekend is spent shopping for gifts, catching up on chores, or even just relaxing, it can greatly lower your stress levels. If you over-commit, you can become stretched thin. So while it may be difficult declining an invite in the moment, you’ll benefit from a calm weekend in the long run.  

9. Get someone else to wrap your gifts

You have so much going on over the holidays that it’s important to minimize your workload wherever possible. While wrapping gifts has a beautiful end result, it can be a very time-consuming task. Make your life a bit easier by taking advantage of the stores that wrap presents for you, from Amazon to Williams Sonoma, or make a quick stop by the kiosk at the mall that will wrap while you shop!

Woman holding stack of presents in a white room

10. Remember what the holidays are really about

With the commercialization of the holiday season it can be easy to lose sight of what the holidays are truly about. Forget crafting that perfect centerpiece or cooking the most elaborate meal you can imagine, instead focus on the ones you love. If you start to feel stressed and overwhelmed, cross some of the unnecessary items off your to do list. Spending quality time with your friends and family should be the priority, anything else you do is simply an added bonus. If you can keep this mindset with you as you prepare for the holidays, the small stressors won’t have as much of an impact.

By integrating these ten tips into your holiday, you’ll be set up for success. Happy stress-free holidays! 

Are you ready to tackle #1 to have a stress-free holiday?

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