So the past two days I’ve talked about holiday stress and some of the causes of it, but haven’t really given you any ideas on how to lessen the stress. Well today I have some ways that you can put into place today to help you feel more relaxed this holiday season.

Start with a December calendar page

The large desktop calendars work well for this.  Begin by filling it in with everything you know you “have” to do:  Christmas party at preschool, church on Christmas Eve, the party at a friend’s house, time with the in-laws.  Then write in all the things that are must do’s:  buying the Christmas tree, decorating the tree and the house, baking cookies, writing and sending Christmas cards.  Lastly, fill in the fun things that you want to do:  host a party, watch Christmas movies, go to see the Nutcracker.  Now your schedule is planned for the whole month.  No Surprises!

Get Your Christmas Shopping Done Early

Every year, it seems like the circle of people we know and buy gifts for increases. But you don’t have to rush around in the crowds and spend hours choosing individual gifts for each person on your list.

Buy the same item for multiple people, especially if they’re not in the same social circle. You can give the same gift to your elementary child’s teacher as you do your high school teen’s teacher.

Likewise for people at your place of employment and your spouse’s. Some great gifts to buy in larger quantities include gourmet food boxes. Those that contain cheeses, meats and crackers make excellent ‘thinking of you’ Christmas gifts as do the food boxes with coffees and jellies.

My daughter and I love buying decorative tins (no wrapping needed) and filling them with an assortment of hard candies, cookies or whatever. Here’s a tip if you intend to include any candy with peppermint in it, put it into a tin all its own because the strong scent of the peppermint will flavor the other candies.

Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute to Plan Your Christmas Menus.

Nothing can frazzle us more than trying to rush around cooking against the clock. That frazzle factor goes up tremendously if we forget something because we didn’t plan until the last minute.  There’s a way to avoid the frazzle factor.

Figure out ahead of time when all of the parties, church gatherings, special meals and work-related celebrations are going to be held.

Remember that large calendar that you used to mark down all the events for the month?  Write down the events by their due dates and the foods you’ll need for each event on that same calendar page.  Then once you have everything written down, you’ll know at a glance where you need to be, when and what items you’re bringing.  Purchase all needed food items at the beginning of the month so that you can have them on hand.

Decorating Can Be Spread Out Over Time

The best way to decorate inside or outside your home for the holidays is to do it a piece at a time, a room at a time, a yard display at a time.

Don’t start in your kitchen, dining or living rooms.  Those are considered to be the rooms where the majority of decorating takes place.  Begin in another room instead.

Change the little decorations, the flowers, the floor rugs, etc.  Replace any every day candles with holiday colored and holiday scented ones. Within a day or two, decorate the bathrooms.  This is a great way to start to decorate before Thanksgiving without anyone really noticing. By starting early and adding a little at a time, you won’t feel so stressed as the holidays get closer.

This blog post is an excerpt from my Christmas e-book Create An Old Fashioned Christmas

I will be running a fun little program called Healthy Holidays this year. It will take us from the week of Thanksgiving right through New Years. It’s free to join and will be jam packed with ideas for self-care, ways to reduce stress, and holiday recipes. Sign Up to join me here:  Healthy Holidays