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This is the year that you're really going to enjoy the holidays. You're going to immerse yourself in the spirit of the season, maintain a positive attitude and not worry about trifling concerns.
At least, that's what you tell yourself. Despite your best efforts, the demands for your time, attention and money inevitably start to pile up. The visiting family members get on your nerves, the turkey gets overcooked and the kids suddenly come down with a bug, derailing your plans. Soon, the overwhelm reaches a breaking point and you find yourself sobbing in the toy aisle at Target.
Well, it's time to break that cycle. Maybe you can't avoid stress entirely, but a little careful planning can go a long way toward preventing a nervous breakdown between now and New Year's Day. Here's a checklist to help you maintain your sanity during the most wonderful time of the year.
Make a list — and check it twice
First things first: Get organized. No doubt your mind is swimming with dozens of different to-do items. There are parties to plan, gifts to buy, things to clean, events to attend, cards to send, things to bake and so on. The thought alone is enough to send your nervous system into a frenzy. Here's where you can take a leaf out of Santa's book by making a list and checking it twice.
Just don't forget to include a plan for how you're going to get those things done. A 2011 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that writing down specific plans for your checking off to-do list items can relieve a lot of stress and anxiety. So, instead of putting "go gift shopping" on your list, write down when and where you'll go shopping and whose gifts you'll be buying.
Also, it might be a good idea to write things down by hand instead of popping them into your cell phone. According to a University of Tokyo study, this helps you remember things better.
Set a budget
It's easy to get carried away with spending during the holidays. The best way to avoid the stress that comes from a drained bank account is to decide ahead of time what your budget is and stick to it. Of course, if your gift list is a mile long and you're stretching every last penny, it might be time to rethink some things.
Ilian Georgiev, CEO and co-founder of the personal finance app Charlie, told Bankrate that skipping the gift exchange and focusing on just celebrating with loved ones is a viable option.
"If the holidays give you financial stress and anxiety, talk with your loved ones about an alternative format to holiday spending and gift-giving this year that takes the pressure off of everyone," Georgiev said.
Start shopping early
That looming shopping list can definitely take a toll on your stress level if you put it off for too long. Maybe you're not in the 43% of people reported by Statista who started shopping before the end of October, but that doesn't mean you should wait until Christmas Eve to find the perfect gift. The sooner you can start, the better — especially if you're trying to save money. Shopping early gives you more time to price match for those big ticket items.
Collaborate with others
Don't feel like spending a whole Saturday delivering neighbor gifts? Host a Secret Santa party with your neighbors instead! Rather than buy each other cute but expendable items each year, collaborate to create a very special holiday experience for someone in need. It saves time and money and helps you bond with the people on your block. Win-win.
Make a food plan
Festive feasts are a big part of what makes the holiday season so memorable, but don't feel like you have to take on the whole spread by yourself. Delegate different meal assignments to family and friends ahead of time so that you don't end up overwhelming yourself.
Don't be afraid to say 'no'
Just as important as deciding what to do during the holidays is deciding what you won't do. You can skip The Nutcracker this year, if you want. Ask someone else to host the annual party. Opt for a gift-free holiday and focus on experiences instead. It's okay to break with tradition if it's taking too much of a toll on your mental health.
Make time to relax
When you start to feel stress creeping up on you, that's a good sign that it's time to step back and take a little break. This can look like a few minutes of meditation at your desk each day, going on an afternoon walk or curling up on the couch with your favorite holiday movie and a nice, warm blanket.
And if you want to save yourself the hassle of trying to find the perfect gift, shop at Minky Couture. You'll find a luxurious, soft minky blanket for every newborn, child, teenager or grownup on your list. Be sure to also check out their new collection of robes, scarves, bags, pillowcases, baby accessories and more! Shop the whole collection today and cross one more thing off your list.