Tuesday, November 29, 2016

5 Tips for a Stress Free Holiday Season

As much as I love the holiday season, we all know that they can become very overwhelming. Between shopping, decorating, attending holiday parties, baking, and traveling to see loved ones, we often end up more stressed out than we are joyful. It's supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, so for this week's talk I want to share 5 tips that will help you stay merry and stress free this holiday season:

1. Shop online. Going to the malls this time of year can be beyond stressful. They are always packed, you can't find a parking spot, and most of the time, the stores are so picked over! I do the majority of my shopping online (especially on Black Friday and Cyber Monday) because I can take my time, skip the crowds, and enjoy shopping while sipping on hot chocolate by the Christmas tree. It makes the shopping experience so much more enjoyable... plus so many stores offer free shipping and returns! If you must go to the mall, try to make the trip sooner than later... going the week of Christmas will make you feel more behind and more stressed.

2. Keep it simple. Our world has us thinking that we must go over the top for everything. With Pinterest expectations, it can be hard to keep up! I say throw all that out the window and keep things simple. You don't have to have lights in every corner of your house. You don't have to have a pretty glitter bow on every present. Over the years, I've dwindled my Christmas decorations to three simple things: greenery, lights, and candles. Sure, I have santas and little cottages thrown in here or there, but by keeping it simple... I actually enjoy the decorating instead of feeling like I have to keep up with every picture I see on social media. Adopt a less is more kinda of attitude this holiday!

3. Prepare ahead. We often find ourselves in a shopping, wrapping, and baking frenzy on Christmas Eve. I don't know about you, but I want my Christmas Eve to be anything but stressful. I like to spend the day watching Christmas movies, spending time with family, etc. In order to not get behind, you must prepare ahead - with everything. Get your shopping done early and wrap as you buy instead of saving it all for Christmas Eve. Decide what recipes you'll be cooking for the holidays and buy all the ingredients ahead of time. By putting in the extra time to prepare earlier in the month, you'll save your self from the last minute stress and be able to spend your Christmas Eve relaxing with your loved ones!

4. Set a budget. The holidays often leave us more stressed because we end up spending way too much money. Between gifts, decorations, events, travel costs, recipe ingredients, etc... the costs will add up and before you know it, you'll have overspent and spent the first part of the next year trying to catch up from the holiday costs. We set a budget every year and stick to it. We decide the total cost of how much we can afford to spend during the holidays and set that money aside throughout the year. Make your budget as detailed as possible to make sure you aren't spending money that you don't have. Also, the less is more attitude really applies here - don't worry about the cost of the gift, it's the thought that counts, and if you're stretched for money.. consider making homemade gifts!

5. Remember the reason for the season. Christmas has become so commercialized - so much so that we forget why we are even celebrating! We are so worried about the gifts and parties and traditions, that the true meaning of Christmas completely passes us by. There are so many reasons not to choose joy during the holiday season, and if we don't keep our focus on the true meaning of Christmas, we end up focusing on all the wrong things. This season, I challenge you to focus on the birth of Jesus, reflecting on what this season is really about, and keeping Christmas alive in your heart.. by sharing Christmas cheer and the love of Christ to those in your community and the world.