How to Have a Stress-Free Holiday

By the time you read this, the year’s extraordinarily short #holiday shopping season will be nearly over. If you haven’t completed your shopping by now, you’ll have to pay for overnight shipping or brave the last-minute crowds at an old-school retail store.

As the clock winds down, you may also have meals to prepare and gifts to wrap. You may need to do an airport run to help far-flung family members join in the fun. You may even need to fit all of these activities in around your work schedule.

That’s a lot of stress. But there are ways to defuse that stress and enjoy the holidays.

The first is to know when you’ve done enough. Striving to create the “perfect” holiday can drive you nuts. There may be a few “nice to haves” or traditions that you just can’t fit into the holiday plan this year — and that’s OK. The sun will rise and set without them.

If you’re short a gift, you can give cash, buy a gift card or sign your giftee up for a subscription service that periodically delivers coffee, tea or wine. There are also plenty of all-digital gift options that can help show you care instantaneously.

Take advantage of services that take some of the work off your hands. Retailers are only too happy to wrap that gift or assemble that piece of furniture. The local bakery can provide a pie, and you can ask guests to bring a side dish.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when the big event arrives. A thoughtful guest will volunteer, of course, but many people may need reminding as they celebrate with family and friends. This is a great way to keep kids occupied ahead of a gift grab.

You can set deadlines on what you need to get done, but build in an hour or two of serenity to maintain your sanity. “Head outdoors for a refreshing change of scene,” Woman’s Day suggests. “Take a starlit nighttime stroll through your neighborhood to view the holiday lights.”

You don’t have to do it all — and even if you could, it wouldn’t add to your enjoyment of the holiday season or anyone else’s. Focus on the big picture and know when to “say when,” and you’ll be able to create warm holiday memories without the stress.

Craft Your Own Holiday Cards

One of the best ways to keep the holidays cheap is to rely on your own creativity to carry the season. Start today by making and sending handmade cards to your friends and family, HGTV suggests. With a few simple materials — paper, glue, felt, glitter and so on — you can easily make cards that look like they cost a fortune. Try creating a Santa card with a cotton-ball beard, for example, a winter scene with glitter “snow” or a card that turns into an ornament. Whatever you craft, it will be inexpensive and fun to spread a little bit of holiday cheer.

Holiday Decorating on the Cheap

Decorating for the holidays doesn’t have to be a chore — or break the bank — if you get creative. Even small spaces can share the joy of the season with DIY projects such as a tabletop or twig tree, Good Housekeeping says. Evergreen garlands and clippings can bring the colors and scent of the season into the home, while a handmade “tree” or card display can serve as the focal point of the room. Don’t forget to place candles and string lights strategically throughout the house to make the holidays feel warm and magical, the story says, even as you keep an eye on your budget.

Homemade Foods Make Great Holiday Gifts

Having trouble deciding what to give family and friends? There’s one thing you can give that everyone needs and appreciates — food! HGTV offers 45 easy-to-make recipes for mouthwatering seasonal treats that are equally good for entertaining or gifting. Whether you try your hand at toffee or fudge, marmalade or bread, crinkle cookies or caramels, giftees will appreciate the time and effort you put in to create holiday cheer from scratch before devouring your tasty treats. You can make extra so that you have some on hand for those surprise guests, too!

Get Those Holiday Cards in the Mail Now

With just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, this year’s shortened holiday season doesn’t leave much time to get cards in the mail. But you can get them together fast with a personal touch using easy ideas from The Spruce Crafts. Pretty much all you’ll need is paper, a pair of scissors and school glue, plus embellishments such as ribbons, buttons and glitter, to make unforgettable, one-of-a-kind greeting cards to send family and friends. Some can even be printed directly onto cardstock using a color printer, so it’s never been easier to wish people a happy holiday.