Let’s face it, the holidays can be stressful, which is exactly why I’ve put together this list of survival tips for the holidays! Most people I know really enjoy and look forward to the holidays. But if we’re being honest, most of those same people also get a little stressed out, as well.

Many of us are busy with our regular work and family commitments, and then add in traveling, or hosting family and friends over the holidays, extra shopping and extra cooking and it can all become a bit overwhelming.

I’ve thought long and hard about the things I’ve learned over the years; what has worked to reduce my stress level (and what hasn’t!) and Voilå, my Survival Tips for the Holidays.

1) First and foremost, learn to “let go.” Do what you can, and don’t fret over things that you run out of time for. If you set expectations of yourself at a higher level than is humanly possible to reach, it stands to reason you will be disappointed.

2) Make lists and prioritize. In keeping with the above (letting go) make a list of all the things you’d LIKE to accomplish before and during the holidays; then go through that list and highlight the ones you feel must happen, leaving the others to do only if there is time.

3) Plan ahead and anticipate whenever possible. If you are having guests stay with you, will you be cooking at home and/or going out for meals? Make grocery lists and possibly even spring for grocery delivery, to save time. Make reservations at restaurants, especially for busy nights. And do your baking ahead of time, freeze it, and then pull out to thaw, the day before you need to serve.  

4) Do something for others. This may seem like it goes against everything I’m saying about saving time. But volunteering or offering up your services to those less fortunate allows you to focus your attention on something other than yourself. Helping others is mentally uplifting, which in turn, naturally reduces stress.

When I lived in Oskaloosa, Iowa several years ago, I decorated my entire home for Christmas and was one of 6 homes that were part of a Christmas tour of homes. I hired someone to clean and had a local designer, Interiors by Val, help me decorate. Another local décor vendor donated items to help with the decorating.

The local Oskaloosa Tour of Homes sold tickets for the tour and the ticket sales were a fundraiser for the local Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Mahaska County. It certainly seemed like a lot of work at the time, but I remember it as one of my fondest holidays to look back on. I had over 200 people come through my home over two days and I enjoyed getting to know people in our community, as well as hear stories about our home.  From who used to own it, to what remodeling had been done over the years, etc.  It truly was an experience to remember!

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