Rid The Stress of the Holidays With These Helpful Tips

13 Nov

With the gift-giving, the cooking, the decorations and the parties, the holidays can seem to be more like work than a vacation. We’ve asked the experts, and here’s how to make the most of your holiday season..

Desperation Decorating
1. Bring out books to easily add a seasonal touch. Prominently display an illustrated volume of A Christmas Carol on a living room shelf or the fireplace mantel. Place a basket topped with a bow and filled with children’s Chanukah books on the coffee table.

2. Use what’s on hand. Create a gallery of pretty packages by gently wrapping framed photographs or prints in creamy ivory or festive foil gift wrap. Trim with ribbon or frothy netting tied in a bow. Hang the pictures back on their original hooks and voilà!—you’ve just decked the halls.

Surviving the Social Whirl

3. Keep gatherings small and intimate. Get together with a few of your closest friends or relatives for the holidays. Choose to throw the big blowout parties at another time of the year, when you and your guests will have fewer commitments competing for your precious time.

4. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. In fact, guests prefer to take on some small tasks, instead of standing around while you attempt to do everything yourself. Ask an older relative if he’d mind greeting guests at the door. Recruit teens to take coats or offer fruit juice. Kids may direct guests to the buffet table or offer hors d’oeuvres.

The Shopping Showdown
5. Go with a game plan. Log on to your local mall’s Web site and download a map and directory of stores. Before you go, plot your path and make a list of potential presents. While at the mall, avoid excessive browsing since it can quickly eat up your available time, not to mention money. Lastly, always bring along advertising circulars in case there’s a question about an item’s availability or price.

6. Seek the out-of-the-way cashier. G. Gaynor McTigue, author of Why Make Yourself Crazy?, offers this tip for braving the malls: Avoid long lines by seeking out a store’s “hidden” cashier. “I always seem to find a courtesy counter or service desk where they’ll gladly ring up purchases. It’s usually in a place that’s less obvious, generally at the back of the store,” says McTigue.

The Great Wrap-Up

7. Seek out charity gift-wrapping services. Nonprofit organizations often set up booths at malls or craft shows and will wrap presents for a fee. Take advantage of their services and you’ll save yourself one task while contributing to a worthy cause.

8. Stock up. Buy multiples of tape, extra gift tags and more wrapping paper than you think you’ll need. Nothing is more frustrating than running out of supplies with the job half done, and you can always save the leftovers for next year.29 tips towards a stress free holiday

9. Reward yourself while wrapping. Put on your favorite video or DVD, light the tree and pour yourself a mug of hot cocoa topped with real whipped cream. Assure yourself that you deserve a treat for all the work you’re about to undertake.

Care for Yourself
10. Hold on to daily rituals. If you like to read for half an hour before bed, don’t give it up in favor of yet another holiday chore. Our everyday practices help calm and center us.

Homeward Bound
11. Pack smart. Tuck everyone’s sleepwear and toothbrushes in one easy-to-reach bag. That first night when you arrive at Grandma’s house or another destination, you won’t be fumbling through every suitcase before bedtime.

12. Stay safe along the way. Ensure your vehicle is in good running order for the trip by checking belts, hoses, air pressure, fluid levels and windshield wipers, says AAA spokesperson Jerry Cheske. Contact your auto club, the state police agency or highway patrol regarding road closings or conditions.

13. End airport hassles. Simplify air travel by arriving up to two hours early for domestic flights and up to three hours for international flights. To avoid parking hassles, “get someone to drive you to and from the airport, if possible,” advises Cheske. If you’re picking up a holiday guest, sign up online for a traveler care alert. Some Web sites, including Orbitz.com, will automatically contact you via phone, e-mail or pager to give you updated flight information.

14. Choose travel-proof gifts. With security restrictions at airports being what they are, make it easy on yourself and give gift certificates. Or mail your gifts ahead of time. Rosemire orders gifts online or from catalogs and has the companies send them directly to her holiday destination. Either way, you’ll save room in your suitcase.

And Don’t Forget…
15. Remember to have fun. As you take part in trimming the tree or preparing the Chanukah cookies with your kids, take a deep breath and savor the moment. Give yourself permission to forget about all those tasks still left on your to-do list.

16. Record what worked. Jot down any tricks or practices that went over especially well this holiday. Keep a notebook from year to year, detailing your own secrets for a sacred, successful and stress-free celebration.



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