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Tips to Prepare for the Holidays, the Stress-Free Way

If you're feeling stressed and overwhelmed during the holiday season and find yourself worrying about tasks and responsibilities, it may be time to make a change.

Many people struggle this time of year to strike a balance between their responsibilities and their desire for a peaceful holiday season. If you're one of them, you might want to consider scaling back and simplifying the holidays.

A stress-free approach can help you savor the holidays and make it more meaningful for you and your loved ones. These simple tips might help nudge you to a more relaxed Christmas path:

1. Buy Presents Early at Local Shops

The holiday season can be hectic. Stores are bursting at the seams with eager shoppers, with a sense of urgency filling the air, especially a week or two before the big day.

While it's still relatively early, you might want to start gift shopping this week—the Black Friday rush is over, and it's three weeks away from Christmas, but the holiday discounts have begun. It's the best time to start moving. You can avoid the crowds and take your time to find the perfect gifts.

And the best place to look for presents is your local shops. 

Many local stores offer discounts and promos especially this time of the year. So, you may be able to save money on your purchases. But big stores and online shops also have those. Why bother with local stores?

Local shops often have a wider selection of unique presents (high-quality and handmade, mind you) that you won't find at big-box stores. They're the perfect places to look for something truly special for your loved ones. It's a breath of fresh air from buying a hot, new item that thousands of people are also trying to get.

Shopping at local stores also allows you to build relationships with the shopkeepers, turning your experience into something enjoyable and personalized.

2. Keep Dinner Parties Simple

Hosting a Christmas dinner party doesn't have to be an elaborate and nerve-wracking affair. If you're only preparing for your own family or a handful of people, the more reason not to unnecessarily stress yourself out.

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This is the time of year to spend time with loved ones and enjoy yourself, too. And if you don't know where to start with "simple", here are a few tips that might help. 

You don't have to be on theme.

Specifically the menu. Seasonal food can be more than just roasted turkey and Christmas pudding. If you want to cook a more manageable dish that's within your lane, feel free to do so. Don't feel obligated to follow traditional Christmas recipes that you and your loved ones don't enjoy.

Think about what your loved ones' favorite food is, and order it in advance.

Instead of coming up with an elaborate feast of five to seven home-cooked dishes, you can simply cut everything down to one main Christmas dish and one or two simple sides (you can't go wrong with potatoes). Then, pick two to three family favorites and order them days before the party. 

Encourage Potluck.

Ask your guests to bring a dish to share, and there's no shame in this. It will truly take some of the pressure off you. You can assign specific dishes to avoid duplicates and ensure you have a well-rounded spread. Plus, asking people to bring their food allows them to have what they enjoy, especially if they have dietary restrictions.

3. Make Sure You Have Enough Room

Work out how many people your space can comfortably accommodate. On the dinner table, it is typical to allow at least 24 inches of elbow room per person at the table. Of course, we all know that sometimes you just have to squeeze in a few extra guests to keep the party going.

In which case, don't force a sit-down dinner. You can go for a buffet-style setup instead. Just ensure there's enough space for guests to move around freely when they get food. As for seats, some guests can get comfortable at the dinner table, the others in the living room. 

4. You Don't Have to Buy More to Accommodate More

Another pressure that you might want to try to get out of this year: buying more stuff for one dinner party. So, if you look around and see that you might not have enough cutlery and dishware for your guests, consider asking them to bring some. Or borrow from a friend or a family member for anything you might need on the day.

You don't have to buy more to accommodate more. But consider what you really need, what lasts, and what you'll use often.

For instance, if you're thinking of investing in a dinner table, go for an extendable model. You'll use it often and it conveniently expands to seat guests for special occasions.

5. Make Non-Christmas Plans

Although Christmas is typically with celebration, it can also bring about stress, family obligations, and financial strain.

And a way to escape the holiday hustle is by making non-Christmas plans. You can break free from tradition or simply take a pause this year. Instead, create unforgettable moments with your loved ones or friends by exploring activities beyond the boundaries of the typical Christmas framework.

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So that the holiday season doesn't completely overwhelm you, make sure to plan activities that you enjoy during your free time. They may be as simple as watching movies on Netflix, taking walks, or treating yourself to a spa day. Schedule these throughout winter, if manageable, so you have other things to look forward to aside from Christmas. 


Many of us have specific imagery about what holidays should look like, often influenced by traditional imagery and media portrayals. It's subliminal as we grew up with this messaging, although there's nothing inherently wrong with these expectations.

But there may be times that you want to scale back on holiday preparations. Rather than feeling guilty about it, do what is necessary to maintain your well-being.

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