10 ways to beat holiday stress

November 12, 2014

I am making this month about Thanksgiving, and enjoying pumpkins, my brown transferware dishes,  crisp, cool nights, and turkey and apple pie. The Christmas decorations won't go up until after Thanksgiving, and I'm saving Christmas carols until then, so I can enjoy them even more.
A lovely November sky at dusk.
Behind the scenes, though, I am planning not only for Thanksgiving and weekend guests, but for Christmas and all that entails. I have to, if I want to enjoy it when it comes. So how do I get everything done while keeping in the forefront the true meaning of the holidays?

I've made a list for myself, of things I hope to keep in mind. Some are second nature; some I have to keep reminding myself of. I'll let you take a peek at it. Maybe you can add some of your own ideas in the comments section.

My "Happy Holiday" Strategy

1. Stay out of the malls. You know it makes you feel stressed and overwhelmed at this time of year. Remember the year you wanted to strangle the poor little drummer boy? You didn't think you could stand hearing his "pa rum pum pum pum" over the mall loud speakers one more time? Don't go there! Order gifts online instead or visit our small, local shops downtown.

2. Toss all the catalogs in the recycling bin right away. You don't need to spend hours thumbing through them. Turn off or mute commercials. Resist all attempts by marketers to get you to buy, buy, buy way more than you need or even want.

3. Set a budget and stick with it. It's so easy to go overboard.

4. Don't try to do it all. The internet is full of gorgeous crafts, recipes, and decorating ideas. Pick a couple if you want that you'd really like to try, a recipe here or a simple craft there, and just enjoy window shopping the rest. You'll make yourself insane trying to replicate a Pinterest-worthy holiday.

5. Be prepared. Make a list of everything you need to do, buy, bake, mail. Everything. Check it over twice, and eliminate anything that's unreasonable (get all the boxes in the basement sorted? ha! Who's going to be looking down there anyway?). Do a little every day, even if it's just baking a batch of muffins to put in the freezer, or wrapping a couple gifts.

Banana pecan muffins to enjoy for a leisurely holiday breakfast. Note I left two out for tea time!
The freezer in my basement is ready to house casseroles, muffins, and cookies for the holidays. I keep a list of everything I put in, and cross off when I remove. Looks like I have some baking to do!
I have a notebook dedicated to the holidays, with separate pages for menus, lists of cleaning chores to be done, lists of stocking stuffers and gifts and packages to mail, Christmas card list, and more. I keep  the lists from previous years as a reference. And after gifts have been received and opened, I add names to a list of people to send thank you's to.

This gives me great peace of mind as I'm not worried about forgetting anything, and I can work on checking as many things off as early as I can.

When you're prepared, you can: 6. read, play board games, do puzzles, watch a holiday movie. You want to spend time with family and friends, not rush around trying to cook and clean and do last-minute shopping when guests are here.

7. Eat healthy foods. Allow for some holiday treats, but stay on track with healthy eating. Remember too much sugar or processed food will make you fatigued, cranky, and ill.

8. Give. To the Salvation Army, the local food bank, and others in need. Don't forget the lonely and broken-hearted; call, invite them to tea, or send a card or small gift. It is indeed more blessed to give.

9. Be still. When you're super busy, you might not think you have time to sit with a cup of tea and rest. A short break usually allows you to be more productive later. As you sit and relax, you may think of a more creative way to do something, or get a brilliant idea for a gift for that hard-to-shop-for loved one.

10. Remember why. Share what you're thankful for around the Thanksgiving table. Read an Advent devotional, put up the Advent wreath. Go to a Christmas concert. Purpose in your heart that you won't forget to thank God for His blessings to our country, and for the gift of His Son.

Do you have any suggestions for keeping the holidays sane and peaceful? Please share.


  1. Hi Deborah,
    I love your list of things to do. I am always very overwhelmed at Christmas and wonder every year how I can simplify things. Sometimes I wish that we could avoid the gifts and just enjoy a lovely Christmas dinner. Thank you for calming my nerves and making me remember the true meaning of Christmas! Blessings! Karen

  2. You are a very wise woman, Deborah. Thank you for sharing these tips with us. There is a time and season for everything and I like how you are making right now, this month, about Thanksgiving.

    Enjoy the remainder of your week, my friend. Love and hugs!

  3. Very pretty sky photo! Sounds like you have some good techniques for eliminating stress over the holidays. Thanks for sharing them with us!

  4. I am printing this out, Deborah - this is a lovely reminder to take time to enjoy the process and not get frazzled in the process. I love the idea of throwing out the catalogs and staying out of the malls and shopping locally. Thank you for these wonderful reminders.
    Hugs xo

  5. Your list has some great tips for keeping in tune with Christmas with all the commercialism I think the true meaning of Christmas can easily be overlooked by some.

  6. Some very interesting tactics to tackle the hullabaloo of holiday stress! Really, it can be quite the opposite, can't it, if we simply pick and choose the most important things, minimizing the aggravation, and maximizing our peace of mind. Each of us knows what those priorities are, and staying on track, by delegating, sharing, accepting, and thanking, should make for a schedule that seems more like play, than work.

    Have a lovely Thursday, Deborah.


  7. Hi Deborah, Great suggestions for this busy time of the year. Wonderful that you have a freezer to store casseroles etc. in.

  8. Your list is very timely and full of wisdom for the special season that will be upon us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, dear Deborah. Blessings to you, sweet friend!

  9. There's a site called Catalog Choice which will help you get off of catalog mailing lists. It's been invaluable for us in simplifying things. And I don't know if you mentioned exercise, especially being outdoors. Sometimes boiling your focus down to something as simple as the movement of your body can help you remember how ultimately superficial the other "essentials" are - if you aren't well, the most beautiful Christmas tree in the world won't help! Thanks for the wise and timely reminders.

  10. Preparing heart as well as home is important. Good list.

  11. Thanks, Deborah! The main thing that stresses me at Christmas is the money I "must" spend. I don't want to put my items on credit cards as that just causes more stress later. I suppose I should have established a Christmas club account at the credit union, and I may try that next year. I always want to remember the true reason for the season: celebrating Jesus.

  12. Thank you for sharing this wisdom with us!! I feel encouraged about the upcoming season now that I've read this post. Thanks!

  13. Such a great post! I was just commenting that I don't mind the early appearance of Christmas in the stores (but NOT before Halloween!!) because I like to shop and find some fun new decorations during the month of November. I like to have our house decorated by Dec.1. We can then enjoy the decorations and have a peaceful few weeks without rushing around. My hubs is an elem music teacher as well as a church organist and choir director, so it is his busiest time of the year. I think having the quiet time at home and everything finished, helps both of us. My goal is to not go into a store ~ other than a grocery store ~ after Dec. 1. I think we all have to figure out what works for us and our family and then go with it. Being retired certainly helps, because when I was working FT there was chaos a lot of the time.

    1. I love to be able to have things done ahead of time, and you're right, it's easier when you're not working outside the home. And it means you don't have to grocery shop on the weekends either, which gets really crazy.

  14. Hi Deborah, this is fabulous and a wonderful post. Things we all can learn from. I too do not decorate till after Thanksgiving. Yes, I have to create for months ahead to fill the shoppe, but in my own home, I wait and give November it's glory. I also make sure my baking, shopping and more is done by the first of Dec. so I can enjoy the holiday and not rush around. I refuse to stress myself and miss Christmas.
    Each year, I pace myself more and more and it has been such a blessing.
    I love your freezer idea with the note on the door.
    Thank you for sharing your list and your wisdom my friend. You are always such an inspiration.
    Hugs and Blessings

  15. Dearest Deborah,
    Excellent list! You, as a busy and organized Mom and devoted wife have a lot of experience and you plan it so right.
    Have you noticed that Blogger (Google OWNS it!) has stopped showing thumbnail photos of lots of blogs...? My guess is that those are not using Blogger via their Google account. They might be forcing people to do so.
    Enjoy the coming weekend and stay cozy. We even get quite some frost coming our way coming week.

  16. Dear Deborah!
    Thanks for sharing your list for the holiday season. You have planned it perfectly I should learn from some of your points. I don't care much for the holidays, except for my mom, whom I help a lot around C'mas...shopping for her gifts and for her C'mas Eve lunch I help her make. As for me, I do keep under my budget, most of the time, but nothing much if I exceed a little. The children live far away. I am not liking it though, wish this was not the case, but it is. I love our Sat. following Tksgiving in the USA, as there is no Tks Day here, therefore, we always have to celebrate it the following Sat., sometimes just the two of us with mother.
    Might as well enjoy the frost coming up and keep cozy!
    Thanks for your visit sweet lady.

  17. Deborah, these are all such great tips. So important not to get caught up in eating all the sweet stuff that's seemingly everywhere at the holidays. You're so right about it making people cranky and tired. It's easier to avoid it if you've got mixed nuts or almonds that keep your blood sugar even. And I agree about staying out of the malls and making sure time is spent in Advent readings and contemplation. Great post.

  18. Thank you for this, Deborah. With our up-coming move, this will be a very different Christmas for us. The first one that I am not hosting in over 30 years. So, I will have to stay focused on the shopping and the baking which is all I will have time to do this year. Our daughter will host the day. I like your idea of staying away from malls. I try to do most of the shopping in small, unique shops in our towns. There is always lots of delightful gifts to find there. Enjoy your Thanksgiving. Ours is behind us now. Deb

  19. All good tips / you are uber-organized :) So right about the shopping...it's the last minute stuff or shopping very close to Christmas when the malls are crowded and everyone's rushed that is stressful. I've always tried to get everything bought, settled or ordered weeks ahead, then the only crowds to deal with are at the grocery store.

  20. In the past I've learned, too, to focus on what really matters in the big picture. You've shared a great list, Deborah!

    Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places......

  21. Deb,
    Thanks so much for stopping by!!

    I am back from my Blog Break and now posting on my Christmas Blog.....


  22. Hi Deborah, wow I love your list of staying organized for the holidays! I hate going to the mall and started shopping 2 weeks ago little by little! I love your freezer idea too! I wish I had an extra refrigerator & freezer like you. My Mom used to have 3refrigerators! I want to start doing wrapping of presents too. I put up my tree and decorations after Thanksgiving too! Thanks for your useful tips.

  23. This is fantastic advice! Esp 2, 4, 10 really stuck w/ me. I haven't been in Blogland as much either lately. Blessings in this busy holiday season :)


Thank you for visiting! I'm truly delighted to hear from you.