Thinking Way Ahead: My Mission to Have a Stress-Free Holiday Season
It’s August, and although Christmas is over four months away I am starting to plan now. Don’t get me wrong; just like you, I really hate walking into a store in early October and seeing Christmas trees. I mean, really, can we just enjoy the fall before the Christmas décor goes up? However, I have had a few hectic holidays since my first child was born, and I am determined to eliminate the stress this year by being prepared and thinking ahead.
What causes stress around the holidays can vary, but for most moms it’s typically connected to preparing meals, buying gifts, sending out cards, entertaining family, and staying within your budget. I am convinced that if I start planning now I can keep stress at bay and actually have some fun this holiday season.
So, what can you do in the next couple of months to prepare for the holidays without seeming like one of those obnoxious people who are obsessed with trees and Christmas cookies? Here are a few strategies I plan to implement. Try them and let’s touch base in a few months to see if we can show moms everywhere that being stress-free for the holidays is definitely possible.
- Start Christmas shopping now. I know it’s early but take advantage of back to school sales to get your kids gifts that they really want for Christmas. The sales you catch now may be just as good, if not better, than what you will catch on Black Friday or in December.
- If you plan to cook this holiday season, start thinking about your menu now. This may seem silly but you won’t believe how many people are still looking for the perfect recipes the week before Christmas. Figure out what you want to make early on.
- Minimize what you plan to cook. I know the desire to do it all can be strong, but don’t. Ask family members to prepare dishes, or just buy desserts and some side dishes. If you’re lucky enough, plan to eat dinner at someone else’s home. I did that last year and it was awesome. We ate breakfast and opened gifts at home and then we went somewhere else for Christmas dinner. I highly recommend it.
- If you are sending out cards, get on it. Make plans to take your holiday card pictures in early October, and order your cards by the first week of November. It will make a huge difference.
- Take inventory. Pick a week this month when you will take inventory of your Christmas decorations, and make a list of what you need now.
- Do all your gift shopping online. Stores are great, but during the holidays they are evil. If you shop early and keep it online, you can catch free shipping deals and just save everything until you need it.
- Go gift-bag crazy. Hit up the dollar store in November and get tons of bags and tissue paper. You can also find very affordable (and very cute) bags at stores like Target and Walmart. Wrapping is for suckers and trust me, I have been a sucker for years. Sure, you can wrap a few gifts, but super cute bags are just as nice and the gift recipient (even kids) don’t care all that much.
- Plan a decorating party. Think of family members or friends who don’t stress you out. Pick a day in late November or early December where you invite them over to help you get your home holiday ready. Buy some food (don’t cook!) and some wine, and I am certain you will have some happy helpers on your hands.
- Remember that perfection is for the birds. There really is no reason to stress yourself out during the holidays. Do as much as you can, and cut as many corners as you need to. Get store-bought cookie dough and eggnog. Send e-cards or Happy New Year cards if you just can’t get your cards done in time. Just do what you can and don’t worry about what you can’t.
- Take a hot bath every week. I don’t care what is going on; make the time to nurture yourself. It keeps you grounded and happy, and we all know that a happy mom is really what everyone wants for Christmas.
Remember that the holiday season is about gratitude and spending time with the ones we love most – not about stress and perfection. Plan early, do what you can, and relax. That’s my plan. Everything else will fall into place.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Martine Foreman is the editor and co-founder of JustDiva, a lifestyle email publication for today’s Modern Black Woman. To follow her funny and candid take on balancing life as a wife, mom and entrepreneur, you can also check out her personal blog, CandidBelle. Martine resides in Maryland with her husband, son, daughter and crazy cat, Pepper.