The holidays are one of the most stressful times of the year ~ financially, emotionally, and physically. But, there are a few things you can do to help reduce this stress by simply planning ahead.
Start Christmas Savings Early
I like to start saving money for Christmas several months in advance. This way I’m not stressing and struggling during the last two to three months to figure out how to come up with the money for decorations, food, and gifts. Even putting away just $25 – $100 a paycheck throughout the year can help reduce the financial hit in November and December. The trick is to put this money up somewhere that you won’t see it consistently and be inclined to use it on other things throughout the year.
Start Planning a Year in Advance
Planning for Christmas a year in advance might seem a bit silly, but it can greatly reduce financial, physical, and emotional stress associated with Christmas shopping at the last minute. When the after-Christmas sales hit in January – take advantage! You can’t beat 50-75% off of the stuff you’re likely to purchase the following year anyway! However, I have learned a few lessons from doing this over several years:
- Don’t purchase trendy items. That movie, singer, group, show, or teenage icon likely won’t be in style a year from now and you don’t want to be the one handing out the outdated gifts.
- Don’t purchase anything that is perishable (i.e. food), or clothing that kids (or even adults) can outgrow (i.e. no pants, tops, underwear, or pajamas – you might be able to get away with purchasing bathrobes).
- If you purchase bath, shower, or perfume sets (which I do recommend), make sure you have somewhere to store them in an upright position and that is in a cool, dry place. If these sets get wet or too hot they could get ruined, then you’ve got a dud gift on your hands.
- Some items I recommend purchasing a year in advance: towel and washcloth / bathroom sets; blanket / comforter / pillow sheet sets; shower sets; perfume sets; socks / slippers; Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations; home decorations; and board games / dolls / most toys.
Purchasing these items in advance will reduce the physical stress of shopping for them at the end of the year (although, you will likely still have some gifts to shop for around Christmas time).
Do Your Research and Plan Your Trips
There are so many retailers to choose from these days, and depending on the people you’re shopping for you may end up going to several different retailers to purchase gifts for everyone. I like to write my list(s) ahead of time, look up prices, and plan which items I will be purchasing from which stores. This saves me a great deal of time so I don’t have to go back and forth between stores looking for the items and / or the best prices.
Another great way I like to reduce my stress while Christmas shopping is by shopping online. This can also yield a great deal of savings since I have access to thousands of retailers online versus having to drive out of town to gain access to additional retailers. It also reduces my physical stress as I can sit at my desk (or on my couch) and shop while spending time with my family (and I don’t have to walk around tons of stores, stand in extremely long lines, or deal with rude consumers). If I’m ordering one item from a store for someone who doesn’t live close to me, and whom I know I won’t be seeing for some time, I can also have the item delivered directly to their home. I also do this when I have several pictures that I want to mail out to family members who are scattered all over the place. I upload the pictures to an online printing site, and I order one copy at a time to be delivered directly to those family members. It’s not as personable as writing out a cute little card and putting them all into an envelope and mailing them out, but it is a lot cheaper (and my family understands). But, you can also have them pre-made into a little photo album to be shipped out, which is more personable, and have them direct-shipped to the recipient.
Other ways to decrease your stress during the holiday season can include: stress-reducing exercises (i.e. yoga), meditation, taking deep breaths, and whatever you do to reduce your ‘normal’ stress.
This post, along with others, have been featured on Clear Your Stress.