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Handling Holiday Stress

Tomorrow is my children’s favorite day of the year. There’s been so much talk about Thanksgiving that Esther is waking up each morning this week saying “Today’s Thanksgiving” and going to bed each night saying, “Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving”. Won’t she be excited tonight when we say “yes” instead of “not yet”.

And why are they so excited? Food, and lots of it. We have a very traditional (boring) Thanksgiving meal – turkey, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, dressing (which no one but me likes),salad, steamed green beans and pies. Other than the turkey, dressing and pies, these items are things we have all the time. Maybe it’s the quantity that excites them.

They’re also excited about the family and friends who come over for dinner. We have an open door policy when it comes to Thanksgiving and every year have a different crowd – although some people like Carl’s parents come every year. It’s fun anticipating and planning for the diversity that comes with each Thanksgiving.

This is also an exciting time because it’s the official beginning of the holiday season. We’ve learned over time that the excitement over this season can quickly become stress if we’re not careful. How does that happen?  By living in excess.

This holiday season we will be bombarded with excess, some of the bombardment will be on purpose and some won’t. Some will be from marketers trying to get you to spend all your money, and then some, on their products. Some will honestly be trying to help you by bringing you great deals, Money Saving Mom, fits into this category for me. But it can still be overwhelming.

So, how do we stay excited and not stressed out this holiday season?

Just say “No”

Say “no” to perfection, say “no” to people pleasing, say “no” to things you don’t really want to do, say “no” to overspending. If you want to make this holiday season super stressful just try to make everyone happy. I’m sure you can do it – but you won’t be happy.

Sit down some time this weekend with your family, a calendar and the budget and find out what’s important to them. Then make a list of what you’re going to do over the next few weeks and get it on the calendar. When other opportunities come up, just say “no”. If it’s something you really want to do then remove something from the calender and put that in but don’t just keep adding things in.
Make a budget {and stay within it}
If you haven’t already made a Christmas budget, you should. It can be as simple as “we’re going to spend $20 on each of these people on our list.” Or as detailed as listing each person, and a specific gift and dollar amount. There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Any budget is better than no budget at all. Dave Ramsey has a great Christmas budgeting tool, you can go here to learn more about it.  Be intentional when you go to the stores or shop on line, no deal is a good deal if you can’t afford it.

Give {generously but without compulsion}

Also include in your budget charities that you’re going to support. There are so many opportunities to give that you can totally break your budget by giving. Each year we choose a couple of organizations to give to. We pack Operation Christmas Child shoe boxes, we pick a couple of tags off our Angel Tree at church and we bless someone in need that isn’t asking. This way we do something global, something local and something personal. For the personal, we’ve done things like make “last minute” shoe boxes for the children who are at our local women’s shelter for Christmas. One year we bought gift cards for a gentleman in our church whose trailer house had burned down a few months before. This year we bought items to send with our Kenyan friends as they journey back to Kenya for a visit – things like pencils and pens for the schools, underclothes and reusable feminine pads. Giving in this way, reminds us of how much we truly have. It also enables us to say “no” to other opportunities and teach our children that saying “no” is ok.

Over the weekend, I’m going to be sharing with you some really fun products and small business that hopefully will make your holiday shopping easier and more meaningful. oh, and I’m going to have FIVE giveaways going!  You’re not going to want to miss those, so be sure to come back on Friday and join the fun.

How do you handle holiday stress?

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Patrick Blair

Wednesday 27th of November 2013

Great advice! We've always just had everyone bring the dish (or two) that they make that the majority of the family loves! We always have plenty of food and everyone's happy. :)