The Santa Claus commercials, the string of lights hanging from the neighbour’s roof, and the Christmas carols streaming out from every store in the mall. Yes, the holiday season has begun! It’s the time of year when many of us enjoy delicious food, getting together with friends and family and watching our kids gleefully look forward to the day Santa leaves presents for them under the tree! It’s a wonderful time but, for many of us, holiday cheer never leaves stress behind.

From mall parking woes and unnerving crowds to budget-busting grocery shops and overwhelming urgencies to purchase that “must-have” toy, there’s bound to be something about the season that makes your head spin. Not to worry! Read on for our insider tips to keep stress at bay and the holidays merry and bright.

Clean Out the Playroom

Let’s face it. Even if you tell the grandparents not to give them toys they’ll still likely give them toys. Come December 25, every toy in your playroom may be matched with a new one. Eliminate clutter by donating old items the kids no longer play with and storing items with sentimental value.

Set a Budget and Stick to It

With so many sales on, it’s hard not to feel tempted to buy “just one more gift”. While shopping sprees might feel great at the time, you might regret it once the January bills arrive. Before making a list, set a budget for each person you intend to buy for and stick to it.

Make Lists

From gifts to groceries and decorations, it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday hoopla! Retailers do a great job at wooing us in to see their latest and greatest this time of year. Halt the temptation by making lists ahead of time and sticking to the things you need rather than the things you want. You’ll save yourself money and space (where were you going to store those new holiday pillows after January, anyway?)

Say No

Someone has to host Christmas dinner, and the annual school craft sale can use some extra home-baked treats to sell, but volunteering for it all means risking spreading yourself too thin. Offer your help where you can, but know your limits. You’re doing no one, especially yourself, any favours by agreeing to obligations you either won’t be able to keep or that will cause unhealthy stress.

Delegate

Don’t take on every single responsibility on your own. Get the family involved by delegating tasks where possible. Let your husband or partner pick up some of the groceries and select some gifts for the kids. Get older kids to help clean up the dishes, vacuum, and clean up their rooms. Include younger kids in activities like baking so they too can learn what goes into holiday planning.

Keep Routines

The kids are off school for two weeks, but that doesn’t have to mean a break from routine. Maintain bedtimes, meal times, and extracurricular activities where possible. Sticking to a routine over the holidays will help when it comes time to transition back to your regular schedule.

Stop Comparing

One of the moms from your son’s class sent goodie bags for every kid. Your best friend bought her daughter that new (expensive) toy for Christmas you know your daughter would love.¬† That cousin you never see sent you the most beautiful Christmas card. Everyone has their¬† way of celebrating the holidays. Stop comparing and stop feeling obligated to keep up. Don’t send goodie bags to your child’s class if that wasn’t in your original plan. Don’t break the bank buying toys you know you can’t afford. Don’t worry about sending someone a Christmas card just because that person sent one to you.

This year, give yourself the gift of a stress-free holiday season. You deserve it!