By Marcia Hall
The holidays, despite all the cheer they bring, are typically a stressful time. From mid-November though the New Year there is a never-ending list of things to do, so it’s really no surprise that life gets overwhelming for many parents. Luckily, there are a few ways that you can limit that stress and free up a little time for yourself.
Send Happy New Year’s cards – Who ever said that you have to send Christmas or Hanukkah cards? Gifts, decorating and parties need to be done before the big day, but sending cards is one thing that can wait. Why not make a plan to send Happy New Year cards to your family and friends instead? Your children will (hopefully) be occupied for a few days after they open their gifts, which can help free up some of your time. Use this time to send off those cards to people; you might even have a little more time to send them a personalized message with the card!
Shop online – Just about every retail establishment has a great online store these days, which makes finding gifts, ordering them and shipping them out easier than ever. Most stores even deliver wrapped gifts, making your gift packaging complete. Shipping is often times free for larger purchases, and many stores offer great holiday deals.
Buy from local small business stores – During the holidays, big box stores and malls are always crowded and frustrating to visit this time of year. While they have great deals, it’s not always worth the headache to fight with the crowd to get what you want. Shopping at the store down the street can not only be less stressful, it can also bring you a sense of satisfaction that you are doing something good for your community. Creating these new local acquaintances will help you feel more rooted in the community, which can add joy to your life and your family.
Limit Gifts –Create a list of who you want to get gifts for and how much you would like to spend – and actually stick to it. This can be very difficult, but every time you are tempted to buy something else for someone, consider returning the other items you have purchased for them. If you add someone to your list, make sure doing so is something that you really want to do. If funds are tight, resist the pressure to add people to your gift list.
Give and receive gifts of donation – Opening a gift from someone is really fun, but finding the perfect gift, wrapping it up, and giving it to someone that you know can bring even greater satisfaction. Sometimes parents feel they have too much stuff. Consider asking your close friends and family to donate to a charity that you strongly support in place of giving you a gift. If you know that your friend has a lot and really doesn’t want more stuff, donate to a charity that she supports frequently herself. Then present the receipt as a gift. You would be surprised how much this gesture will be appreciated, especially if it is a charity you carefully picked specifically for her.
There are a lot of practical steps you can take to ease the pressure you feel during the holiday season. Remember the reason you celebrate this season in the first place and what it means to you to be with family. Make things a little easier for yourself, because in the long run if you are happier and more at peace, your whole family will have more fun as well.