The holidays are a magical time of year, aren’t they? Full of so many occasions to enjoy delicious, home-cooked meals with family and loved ones. Not to mention all the get-togethers with friends you don’t often see throughout the year. And, many of us find joy in the act of giving – choosing the perfect present for that special someone (or some special little ones!) that is sure to wow and delight on Christmas day. While it’s hard not to enjoy the wonderful elements that the holidays offer every year, all that magic can easily be coupled with stress, anxiety and exhaustion. To help combat all that negativity so you can take control of the holidays, these five tips are sure to help you better enjoy the delight this time of year can bring.

1 . Have fun!

Sure, Christmas music may start playing in the malls in early November, but the holidays always fly by, don’t they? Enjoy all that the winter months have to offer while they’re here.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (or the “winter blues”) affects many people – especially those who live in Northern climates. As Rush explains, the main culprit of the winter blues is the lower level of sunlight exposure during the fall and winter months. Winter days are short, try to get out and enjoy the outdoors and sun as much as possible. For many of us who work long hours, being out in the sun during the week can be nearly non-existent – leaving the house before the sun comes up and leaving work after the sun goes down. To get in some more vitamin D during the week consider going out for a walk during lunch a few days a week. The sun and cool air are sure to refresh your body and mind!

Other ways to enjoy this time of year include indulging in “limited time” treats and hot beverages your local coffee shop offers. Or, consider checking out your city’s Santa Clause parade with the kids or grandkids if you haven’t been in a few years. Many smaller towns tend to have pop-up markets that showcase local business’s or artisan goodies such as home-made wreaths or scented candles. Being a part of what is going on in your community will allow you to truly enjoy all the fun of the holiday season.

 

2 . Enjoy MORE, do LESS

If you’re the person in your household who is steering the ship over the holidays, allow me to remind you that you deserve to enjoy this wonderful season just as much the rest of your family! Rather than stress yourself out attempting to create the “perfect” Christmas dinner, ask loved ones for help. Perhaps you request each family bring one dish, or a desert, or whatever it is that will help you enjoy that wonderful dinner you’re preparing just a little bit more.

Another way to help you enjoy more while doing less is by looking for shortcuts when it comes to cleaning, cooking or wrapping. If you’re not a Martha Stewart extraordinaire when it comes to gift wrapping, buy gift bags and tons of coloured tissue paper and call it a day. Not only will you be done “wrapping” in no time, your friends and family will be pleasantly surprised to see that this year their presents don’t look like they were wrapped by a child!

 3 . Make a List

I have always been a list person. I enjoy the organizational satisfaction of visualizing everything I need to accomplish while physically crossing off what I’ve completed. And, while I understand that not everyone is a list person, it’s hard to deny how handy a good ol’ list can be when you’re swamped. Whether you prefer keeping notes in your phone or using old fashioned pen and paper, here are a few things to quickly list off that will help keep you organized over the holidays:

Everyone you need to buy gifts for

  • Jot down quick present ideas that come to mind next to each name
  • Include price range you’d like to spend on each person
  • As you check people off your list jot down wrapping/ gift bag sizing you’ll need

Hosting? List all the food and drinks you want to serve

  • Write down the specialty items you’d like to have on hand (such as your favourite Aunt’s preferred red wine)
  • Need to order anything in advance? Jot down “order by” date so you don’t lose track of time
  • Need to stock up on essentials, don’t forget plastic cutlery, napkins, toilet paper, etc.

Need to tidy your house before guests arrive?

  • Jot down each room/ area of your home you’d like to have clean before guests arrive
  • Don’t forget to include members of your family

4 . Prepare yourself for unpleasant extended family

No one likes to talk about family drama. But, the truth is that every family is dysfunctional in their own way. Whether that be siblings who can’t seem to be in the same room with each other, a toxic cousin, or an uncle who becomes belligerent when he’s had a few too many drinks. Keeping distance with the members of our family who excite more anxiety than joy throughout the bulk of the year can be helpful for our mental heath. But, during the holidays sometimes exceptions must be made. Psychology Today has seven helpful strategies to help deal with difficult family members and maintain your integrity in family relationships. To prepare yourself for unpleasant extended family members, consider these tips over the holidays:

  • Be positive and do your best to stay positive – this includes body language and choice of words
  • Accept that it is unlikely you will resolve deep-rooted problems over Christmas dinner and consider it best to avoid bringing up old issues at this time
  • If possible, eat out. Being in public tends to discourage bad behaviour
  • Avoid trigger topics both towards family members as well as topics that you know are triggers for yourself
  • Remember that you can take a break. If you feel that a conversation is getting heated, put a pin in it. You can either request that the conversation be postponed, or join in after you’ve cooled down

  

5 . Curb Spending and Avoid Coming Out of the Holidays in the Red

 Holiday debt is a major issue for many families. According to Forbes, 57% of Americans with children are willing to take on debt to make their children happy over the holidays. While many might be willing to take on debt, that doesn’t mean they have to. Whether you have children or not, consider these tips to help curb your spending during the holidays:

Set a budget

  • Review your saving and determine how much you can comfortably afford to spend
  • Determine amount you can spend on each person you will be buying for

Begin shopping early

  • This will allow you enough time to look for sales and avoid buying gifts at regular price

Do your research and compare deals

  • Leading up to Christmas many retailers offer two-for-one deals, this can come in handy if you have many people to buy for with similar likes/ interests

Consider buying in bulk

  • This allows you to pay less per unit
  • Will allow you to cross multiple people off your list

Take advantage of rewards (credit card, in-store perks, etc.)

  • If your credit card company is offering to provide cash back incentives for purchases made during a certain timeframe, take advantage – just make sure you’re not overspending and can pay off the balance in full. Otherwise, this great “deal” will come back to haunt you in terms of high interest rates on your next statement

What are your personal tips for handling the holidays? Comment below!