You enjoy the friends, the family, and the feasting— but as much fun as the winter holidays may be, prepping for them can be downright frustrating. Between watching your holiday budget, shopping for that hard-to-buy-for friend, and making enough holiday desserts to go around, you’ll need to have a game plan if you want to keep your cool. Here are some tips for beating holiday stress and enjoying the good tidings and cheer this year.
Plan Your Holiday Menu Early
Nothing throws a wrench in your holiday feast quite like running out of canned pumpkin puree and dashing to the store for more, only to find out that the shelves have been completely cleaned of your favorite holiday pie filling. Before you get cooking or baking this year, make a complete grocery list (and check it twice) of everything you’ll need over the next few weeks. (This is especially useful if you’ll be feeding a big group of friends and family. You don’t want to run out of everyone’s favorite dish!) Take that list and visit the grocery store a few days ahead of time to stock up. Buy ingredients that will keep well in the refrigerator or freezer in the days leading up to your holiday meals. (Not sure what you can refrigerate or freeze? Here’s a handy guide from the FDA.)
Shop Early to Avoid Lines
If you haven’t begun shopping for your holiday presents, start now! Between the long checkout lines, the slim merchandise selection, and the frustration of searching for a parking spot outside the store, last-minute gift runs can be a nightmare. Again, make a list and go as far ahead of the holiday as you can. Also, consider shopping at a time of day that may not be too crowded, like early in the morning or near closing time.
Shop Online and Skip the Headache
What’s even less stressful than shopping in advance? Shopping online in advance! Ordering your gifts online means not having to leave your home, staying in your pajamas, and being an efficient shopper at the same time! To make the most of it, take advantage of the free shipping deals online many retailers have this time of year. According to Brad’s Deals, here are 37 stores with free shipping and 22 other stores with flat rate shipping. If you’re ordering from a retailer like Amazon, look for free trials that offer fast, free shipping, like the shipping that comes with Amazon Prime.
Keep Your Cool Behind the Wheel
If you do have to get to the mall at the height of holiday shopping madness, frustration can run rampant as you circle the parking lot trying to find a parking spot… any parking spot! And to make matters worse, other frustrated drivers can be not-so-nice as you jockey for a space or try and make that impossible left-hand turn. So while you drive, just remember that everyone else is experiencing the same feeling that you are. Put on some of your favorite tunes and be patient.
Balance Your Insurance Budget
The holidays are an especially important time to keep track of your expenses. Check with your agent for insurance discounts you might be missing (like a safe driver discount or renewal discount) and make sure you have cheap car insurance you can afford, but with the right coverage too. Getting what you need from your insurer can help you focus more of your time and budget on family and friends during this time of year.
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Are you feeling especially relaxed this holiday season? How did you do it? Tell us how you achieved holiday Zen by leaving a comment below!