20 Ways To Make Christmas Less Stressful

Do you get stressed during the holiday season? Read on for 20 ways to make Christmas less stressful.

The Christmas season is supposed to be a time of great joy. Unfortunately for many of us, it is also a time of great stress. If you're feeling frazzled at the thought of the holiday season, here are 20 ways to make Christmas less stressful.

1. Make a list and a budget. If you're organized, your holiday season will be much easier. Make a list of everyone you need to buy for and include the maximum dollar amount you can afford to spend per person.

2. Shop online. The Christmas season is the best time to shop online. Online retailers notoriously offer free shipping or greatly reduced shipping during the holiday season. Online shopping will help you avoid those trips to the packed mall, and you can browse the available items at your convenience.

3. Delegate. Don't try to do everything yourself. If you need help with the cooking, shopping or the decorating-- ask for it.

4. Have one party. Don't try to organize multiple get-togethers with your family and friends-- besides being costly, it can cause you great anxiety. Instead, consolidate all of your holiday entertaining into one party, like a holiday open house. Serve make-ahead fare like a crock pot of meatballs, lasagna or hot roast beef sandwiches, so you can enjoy visiting with your guests instead of staying holed up in the kitchen the entire time.

5. Pay cash. Put your credit cards away during the Christmas season and pay cash for everything. Not having to worry about a big credit card bill in January is a sure fire way to reduce your holiday stress!

6. Don't say yes to everything. Christmas is a time for giving, but that doesn't mean you have to give until it hurts. If you're swamped, don't overextend yourself by volunteering to help with both the school Christmas party and the Christmas pageant.

7. Order preprinted Christmas cards. If your Christmas card list is huge, order preprinted cards and print mailing labels out on your computer. Or, consider cutting down on your Christmas cards altogether. If you find that you're sending cards to people that you haven't talked to in ten years, perhaps it's time to take them off of your list. You can always catch up with them after the holidays!

8. Utilize free gift wrapping services. Don't let the mound of gifts pile up. Wrap as you go or consider shopping at stores that offer free gift wrapping. If you think of gift wrapping as a chore, then it's worth it to pass this job off to someone else!

9. Consider Pollyanna's. If you have a large extended family, consider doing a Pollyanna instead of buying for everyone. It wills save everyone money and will simplify your shopping list.

10. Exchange cookies. If spending the entire day baking cookies isn't your cup of tea, try having a cookie exchange with your friends. Each of you can bake several dozen of your favorite type of cookie, and then you exchange them with each other. You'll end up with a great variety of cookies-- and you will only have to make one kind!

11. Log gift ideas throughout the year. Keep your eyes and ears open for great gift ideas throughout the year-- it will make your shopping much easier if you have some ideas of what to buy for people. Better yet, buy gifts as you see them-- even if it's August. It will be one less thing you have to buy later.

12. Ask everyone to pitch in with the meal. Don't try to make the entire holiday meal yourself. If you're having your family over, ask everyone to bring something. Let your kids help you with the cooking and try to use some make-ahead recipes so you don't spend the whole day cooking.

13. Rotate your decorations. If you have accumulated massive quantities of holiday decorations over the years, don't feel obliged to put every single item out. Rotate your decorations each year and you will always have something new.

14. Skip the elaborate lights. If your usual outdoor decorating theme consists of 1000 strings of lights, try to simplify things by just putting some electric candles in the windows or a huge wreath on the door. Sometimes less is more.

15. Consider gift cards for that person who has everything. If you're wracking your brain trying to think of the perfect gift, try buying a gift card to the recipient's favorite store. Although some people frown upon giving gift cards, they really are a gift that anyone can use and they are usually greatly appreciated.

16. Avoid high traffic days at the mall. Busy days at the mall, like the day after Thanksgiving and the weekend before Christmas, are the worst times to shop if you hate crowds and long lines. Stay home on those days and watch your favorite Christmas DVD instead.

17. Buy an advent calendar-- even if you don't have kids. Count down the days to Christmas by opening a window on the calendar every morning. It really will cheer you up and give you something to look forward to each day.

18. Do things you enjoy. Embrace the Christmas season and do things that you love. Go caroling, make homemade gifts and string popcorn for your tree.

19. Spend time with a child. If you don't have children of your own, spend the day with a young relative or the child of a friend. See the joy of Christmas through a child's eyes and embrace it.

20. Get spiritual. With all of the commercial aspects of Christmas, it's easy to forget the reason for the celebration. Go to holiday church services with your family even if you usually don't-- you may just regain a spiritual connection that you lost long ago.

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