Useful Holiday Hacks to Minimize Your Stress
The holiday season is a wonderful time of the year, but for many people, it’s also a time of stress. Money issues, hectic schedules, family dynamics, and healthy eating are among the greatest stress contributors. Continue reading to learn about 10 holiday hacks to minimize your stress.
- Declutter for company
Dealing with a messy home is a major headache when expecting guests. Rather than leave it to the last minute and dumping the mess in a closet or spare room, start preparing early. Set up a cleaning schedule to manage tasks well in advance so that by the time guests arrive, you’ll have only a minimal amount to do on the day.
It’s also the perfect time to get rid of items you no longer need or use. The more you declutter, the more you’ll appreciate the extra space in your home. Consider donating unwanted items, but also do your research. While some charities do pick up goods, some don’t, meaning you’ll have to drop them off. There are also items charities won’t accept.
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- Decorate early
Putting up decorations is the highlight of the holidays, but leaving it for the last minute can make something enjoyable into a chore. Allocate time in early December to decorate. Wreaths and garlands instantly transform entries, gates, fences, staircases, windows, or any focal point. Real or artificial, Christmas trees add a magical touch indoors or outdoors.
Decorating your home exterior and yard doesn’t need to be complicated. Christmas lights, projector lights, or inflatable decorations can turn your yard into a winter wonderland. If you plan to install lights yourself, be sure you have the proper equipment and make safety a priority. If you don’t have the right equipment or a tall enough ladder, let professionals handle it.
- Bake holiday treats ahead of time
No matter how carefully you plan, things always get hectic as the holidays approach. Don’t leave your baking till the last minute. Save time and stress by baking in advance. Most cakes, pies, and cookies freeze well as long as they’re properly stored, so plan ahead and enjoy those tasty treats during the holidays.
An added bonus of baking in advance is that you don’t have to wait for the goodies to cool before frosting or decorating. Store them in freezer bags or airtight containers until it’s time to decorate with no worries about melting or dripping.
Cookies better suited to freezing are those with a higher fat content like shortbread or butter cookies, which can be baked well in advance. Lighter cookies, such as macaroons, should be baked closer to the holidays so they’ll be fresher.
- Plan holiday meals
Planning your meals in advance will save a lot of rushing around later and unnecessary or last-minute trips to the supermarket. Prep as much as possible ahead of time, such as defrosting items or chopping and peeling fruit and vegetables so you can spend more time with your guests and less time in the kitchen.
Planning ahead also means taking advantage of friends or relatives who offer to bring something for the meal. This way, the items they bring can save you the time and effort of cooking the same dishes.
- Give back to elevate your mood
Some stress during the holidays is inevitable, but there are steps you can take to minimize it. Volunteering is a great way to help mental and physical wellbeing, and giving back to others is a great way to achieve this. It can also boost confidence and happiness.
Check out holiday-focused initiatives such as toy and food drives or community kitchens and toy drives, but there are many other ways you can give back to your community.
- Organize a holiday gift exchange
Gift-buying is one of the most expensive, time-consuming, and stressful part of the holidays. Streamline it by organizing a gift exchange by using apps that make it simple to set one up. All you have to do is submit the names, establish the rules, add wishlists, and automate the name draw portion without the need for everyone to be present.
Another option is doing a white elephant gift swap. While this is traditionally done with anything you find in your house and end up as joke gifts, you can customize it. Set a price limit and buy generic gifts that could appeal to everybody.
- Plan when to send holiday cards and gifts
It’s never a good idea to wait until the last minute to send holiday cards or gifts as the postal service can’t always guarantee timely delivery. Mail early to avoid delays and disappointments, or use other carriers with guaranteed arrival services. To save time, order postage online or buy from post office vending machines.
- Reserve one weekend in December for yourself
During the holiday rush, reserve one weekend in December for yourself to avoid burnout. You don’t have to commit to every event, and you can use the free time to catch up on tasks, shopping, or just recharging. While it may be tempting to accept one more invitation, the benefits of a calm weekend will be well worth it.
- Have your gifts professional wrapped
While you may enjoy gift wrapping, it’s also a time-consuming task. Consider using gift bags instead, which are easier and quicker to prepare, or have your gifts wrapped at the many stores or malls kiosks that provide this service. Better yet, have your gifts while you shop to save twice the time.
- Remembering what the holidays are really about
Commercialization of the holiday season can often distract us from the true meaning of the holidays. It’s not just about finding the perfect gift or creating the most elaborate feast. It’s about spending quality time with friends and loved ones. If you start to feel stressed or exhausted from a schedule that never seems to end, take a step back and cross some items off your to-do list. This will help you better cope with your tasks and make the holidays much more enjoyable.
Use these ten tips to make your holiday happier and more stress-free.