5 tips to stay sane over the holiday season

The holidays are nearly here. You might have gathered this from the ads on tv and to-do lists a mile long. Once the Halloween decorations are put away, November brings Thanksgiving in the US. November is also home to Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday that kicks off December.

The holidays are nearly here. You might have gathered this from the ads on tv and to-do lists a mile long. Once the Halloween decorations are put away, November brings Black Friday, followed by Cyber Monday that kicks off December.

But that’s not all – religious celebrations, visits from Santa, holiday parties and New Year’s resolutions are all also on the calendar soon. What can you do to get the most out of this upcoming hectic time? Read our 6 tips to stay sane this summer holiday season:


1. Save money on Christmas presents


Gift-giving is said to be even better than receiving presents. But we all have our limitations with money, as well as time. Consider having a “Secret Santa” method for presents with adult family and friends. That means participants get a randomly selected person to give a gift to (draw names out of a hat?), usually with a maximum price. Everyone will get a gift but then you only have to worry about getting one gift – a win-win!

Many parents will agree that children have too many toys. However, kids love to get gifts and that is a big part of the holiday season. Ask ahead to find out if there is something specific that they need. Or, even coordinate with family to contribute a small amount to a larger present. This method also works well with grown-ups.


2. Christmas and holiday shop early – or late


Make your gift list early so you can keep your eyes open during sales. With stiff competition, many retailers will continue to have offers by the beginning of December. If you stick to your list, you can save a lot of money and time on getting the right gifts and presents.

Even though the early bird catches the worm, the late bird might find something too. Just before Christmas there are often last-minute deals to take advantage of before spending time with the family. It probably isn’t wise to put off important gifts to the 23th of December. Yet, if you forgot someone, you may be in luck. Or maybe you could get a small gift for yourself?


3. Buy food ahead of time for holiday dinners


Perhaps you will be cooking for the family or attending a potluck dinner with friends. Either way, you can grocery shop early for holiday dinners. Try to buy goods that keep, like canned food, spices and frozen items. Later, you can focus on getting a shorter list of fresh foods closer to the date. That way you are less likely to be stuck with a truckload of groceries and the (nearly) inevitable extra trip to the store to get that one thing you forgot on the big day.

Cooking ahead of time is also possible but requires a bit more planning. If you have foods that can be easily frozen (and still tasty when heated!), why not cook ahead at a convenient time? If you have read through these ideas and not been able to think of anything that you can purchase early or cook beforehand, then maybe you could start small by planning the menu and shopping list. That’ll save some headaches down the road.


4. Plan overnights well in advance


Many times, holidays see people compromising their comfort, especially when it comes to family gatherings and how much is “too much” time together. One way to minimise this stressor is to plan well ahead and be clear (to yourself and others) about your needs.

For example, it is lovely if your mother has extra sheets for you to stay the night when coming from out of town. However, that might not be the most comfortable option. Consider booking a nearby hotel so you can have the best of both worlds – time with family and space for yourself. By communicating this early and booking hotel rooms while they are available, you can save yourself a lot of stress and find a healthy balance between time together and a place to unwind.


5. Have stress-free holidays with family and friends


Sitting around the table with family and friends is a great way to stay connected and enjoy the holiday season. Yet, sometimes this can be taxing because many people bring both good and bad energy along for the ride – it usually doesn’t help that cleaning, cooking, planning and travelling can be stressful before everyone finally comes together.

For that reason, keep politics, disagreements and judgements away from your discussions. Wondering why your dad voted for that political candidate? Not happy with your sister-in-law’s spending habits? Feel free to have your opinions (and others theirs) but the holidays are the worst time to try to hash it out. Remember the reason for the season: patience, good will and positive energy!