How to avoid stress and enjoy the holidays this year


Want to enjoy the holidays this year?

Simplify and focus on the holiday spirit with your loved ones. 

Do you recall what last Christmas was like for you? Raise your hand if you can truly say you loved every minute of it.

Catering for your Aunt Molly, the diabetic, and cousin Jane, the vegan, is not easy. By the time your last guest leaves you’re probably so exhausted that no amount of good wine can help you enjoy the holidays.

Just know that you’re not alone. A poll carried out by the American Psychological Association showed that:

  • 69% of Americas were stressed about ‘lack of time’
  • 69% of Americas were stressed about ‘lack of money’
  • 51% about ‘ the pressure to give or receive gifts ‘

But, hey, life is short. You may love playing hostess but why not do it simpler, smarter and better?

Imagine how much better the holiday season will be for you. Start by whittling down your guest list and going for a simple meal to have a stress free festive season.

Be warned – there will be resistance from your loved ones whose memories of Christmas are associated with the traditional turkey and sides.

But, look at it this way, you may just start a new family trend.

The big bonus is that you get to enjoy the holidays.

Make this year different by setting aside time for self care. This will help you cope with the stress of the festive period.

Tips to enjoy the holidays

1. Have a plan to manage your stressors

There’s so many little details involved so organize everything better with a holiday checklist.

Avoid undue stress by starting with your prep early.

Do not start a week before Christmas. That’s when panic and chaos sets in and you’re likely to blow your budget.

I’ve prepared a special Holiday Checklist printable to help you nail the little details that go into a stress – free celebration. Just click the graphic to download and use them.

2. Set a budget for the holidays

The holiday season can drain your bank account and leave you in debt come January.

Financial expert Dave Ramsay states:

To enjoy the gift-giving season without any guilt-ridden overspending, you’ve got to set up a Christmas budget, save up the money in your Christmas fund—and then stick to your plans. Once you’ve got your plan set, you can shop, spend and enjoy the season without feeling ashamed for going overboard.

Dave Ramsay in How to Set Up Your Christmas Budget

Decide on a realistic budget for the holiday season not just for the Christmas meal.

First, look at how much money you have to cover the costs you’re likely to have during the holidays. Arrive at a figure.

Then, make a list of all your expenses from wrapping paper to Christmas PJs for the family.

Next, balance your income with your expenses and make adjustments.

You may want to consider a few practical steps to ensure that you do not carry debt into the new year.

  • Reduce the amount spent on gifts
  • Change to a simpler holiday meal
  • Take advantage of free events for entertainment

Check out this Marissa Lyda YouTube video for more advice on holiday spending:

Here’s another helpful resource to save money this Christmas:

11 Proven Christmas Tips for Budget Shopping That Work

3. Rethink gifts

You have to be innovative with your gift ideas this year. First, reduce the number of gifts to only your nearest and dearest.

Consider virtual gifts instead of the physical ones you’re used to giving and receiving.

Ever heard the phrase ‘ a gift that keeps on giving’ ? Well, the time has come to consider giving gifts that improve the quality of life for your recipients.

Match their needs and lifestyle to meet your gift. For example a loved one who is a single mom would be ecstatic at the gift of a voucher for Amazon Cleaning Service.

Stuck at home with your teen who misses seeing his friends like he used to? Why not sign up and get him an Amazon Music Unlimited Free Trial so he can listen to’ millions of songs on any device anywhere’.

The best gift for the book lover in your life is a Kindle Unlimited Membership Plan so he can read and listen to as many books as he wants.

Right now families are staying home more than they did in the past. So they’re now in need of family entertainment. So why not sign up and try Amazon Prime. You will not be sorry for this gift to your family. You get to watch your favourite TV series, movies, borrow Kindle books and qualify for free 2 day shipping.

I love audio books. They make ‘reading’ effortless. The best part is that you can listen to them while doing your chores, working out or in the car. An Audible Gift Memberships makes an awesome gift for a friend or family member who is working on their personal growth.

4. Alternate celebration ideas

Maybe your family is used to a big traditional Christmas dinner at your home. But consider doing something different this year so you can truly enjoy the holidays.

Here are a few outrageous suggestions to cancel your stress completely:

  • Go on vacation for Christmas
  • Host a family meal at a restaurant
  • Do a Christmas cocktail evening
  • Hire an outside venue and get all the guests to help with the planning and prep
  • Get the dinner fully catered
  • Turn your Christmas dinner into an opportunity to give back – serve at a homeless shelter
  • Rather than lunch do a champagne Christmas breakfast

5. Unconventional menus ideas

Instead of slaving away doing a roast turkey and sides, go simple with these ideas:

  • Do a smorgasbord starter instead of soups served individually
  • Go for a buffet dinner instead of a sit down meal
  • Try one pot dishes like  paella, lasagna,  briyani or casseroles.
  • Hold a stir fry bar  – you provide the stir fry ingredients and your guests cook their own meals

6. Encourage a team mindset

Get your family on board for the Christmas celebration planning from Day 1. Call a family meeting and create an action plan together.

Win your kids cooperation by allowing them to choose the chores they would like to do from the Printable above.

Imagine how wonderful it would be not to have to fuss and bother over every little detail.

Take a cue from CEO’s and delegate :

  • Design of invitations
  • Printable Christmas wall art
  • Christmas music and movie
  • Purchase of digital gifts
  • Finalizing the menu
  • Drawing up the grocery list

Have frequent report back meetings to keep an eye on progress. This simple team player thinking is sure to lessen your stress and help you to enjoy the holidays.

7. Prep for success

Another great stress buster is to do as much prep and cooking as you can before the day of the party.

World famous chef Rick Stein states:

I always prep all my veg the night before and keep them in cold water overnight. So peel your potatoes, carrots and parsnips and you’ll save time on Christmas morning.

Rick Stein in Rick Stein’s top tips for Christmas dinner on BBC Good Food.

Some prep ideas are to:

  • Cut and marinate veggies in advance for roasting
  • Bake Christmas cookies before hand
  • Make and freeze cookie dough
  • Bake and freeze your Christmas pudding
  • Make sauces and gravies ahead of time too
  • Select desserts that can be made early on as well


8. Clean up after the party

By the time your last guest leaves, you are likely to be so exhausted that all you want to do is go to bed.

But the dreaded cleanup has to be done. This is a major cause of holiday stress.

Clean up during the party where possible. Colin Cowie, celebrity wedding planner and founder of Colin Cowie Lifestyle advises:

when guests leave the table, go ahead and have someone clear the dishes or wipe down the space. Tackle the smaller clean up tasks throughout the night, and you won’t have a huge mess at the end of the party.

But if you organize the cleanup well and to do it straight after the party, you could remedy that almost instantly.

Ensure that every family member knows the chores he has to do to restore order to your home.

Focus should be on:

  • The leftover food – recant, freeze or place in the refrigerator.
  • Washing dirty crockery
  • Clearing away litter
  • Vacuuming the carpet
  • Rearranging furniture

Deep cleaning can be done the next day. Though if your guest list is small, you may not need to do such thorough cleaning

Final thoughts on how to enjoy the holidays without the usual stress

There you have it. A new plan of action to ward off the stress of hosting the annual family Christmas celebration. Approach the holiday season with the mindset that it’s a fun time of the year to be with your loved ones and you’re sure to enjoy it a whole lot more.