The holiday season is right around the corner and some of us are already stressing out. Just the thought of staying up for Black Friday (which starts on Thanksgiving for some retailers), and standing in lines to make sure to get the right gift for everybody without spending too much money is enough to make someone have a full-fledged panic attack.
Fortunately, there are things to do to bring your blood pressure down and end up feeling pretty good about the holidays. Here are some ideas to make this your first real stress-free holiday season.
It’s Good Enough
Sometimes “good enough” is the best thing you can do to de-stress. Why not have a regular Christmas tree this year instead of the 12-foot spruce you got last year? It’s easier to decorate and take down, and they both have that holiday pine smell.
There isn’t anyone who likes to stand in line. Retailers do go a little crazy with slashing the prices on Black Friday, so you can’t really pass up the lines.
Before you go braving the shopping centers, make a list ahead of time of what you want to purchase, and then take a look online to check out everything on your list so that wherever you go you can get in and get out as quickly as possible. Check the hours of each store. Retailers extend their hours for the holidays, and some are even starting Black Friday sales at 8:00 a.m. on Thanksgiving.
Some retail websites offer deals sent directly to your inbox, so you don’t miss anything. Retailers like Walmart provide an email sign up for Black Friday deals. This makes planning your holiday shopping simple and stress-free.
Some retailers offer free shipping year-round while others off the free service exclusively for the holidays. After checkout, always save your tracking number and be sure to factor in shipping delays due to weather during your time of purchase to save yourself from potential shipping headaches.
If you’re not a fan of the Black Friday crowds, take advantage of Cyber Monday savings. Get online early because popular items tend to sell out quickly. Make sure you go over your final order when you check out—websites do make mistakes.
Always look for the hidden cashiers—sometimes there is a clerk standing at a customer service desk or a beauty counter. No matter what you’re purchasing, you can check out anywhere in the store. You can even make a purchase at the pharmacy if you have a prescription waiting.
Get your gifts wrapped for free! Ask about it, because the store may not tell you about it. If the retailer doesn’t do it (which they almost always do), visit the middle of the mall, groups and charities wrap gifts for a small donation.
Final De-Stressing Thoughts
Keep it simple! Maybe this year you could just send traditional Christmas cards instead of the family photo greeting cards you always send out. You’ll save time and money. Plus, you won’t have to worry about wrangling up the family to sit in on a scheduled photo shoot. Send out your cards without a hitch—a USPS spokesperson told Real Simple that the best time to go to the post office during the holidays is 30 minutes after the doors open.
Decorate simply, cook simple dishes or make a reservation and eat out. And if you entertain, make it intimate.
Less work, less stress—it may become a new holiday tradition.