5 tips for a less stressful holiday

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Starbuck Christmas cups are out, storefront windows are decorated, and holiday sales are cluttering our inboxes. Though still weeks away, holiday stress is starting to build. Life will soon be filled with cards to send, presents to buy, entertaining, and decorating. But this year, I have a plan to help me simplify so I can get back to the spiritual heart of the holidays.

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Here are 5 tips to combat that stressed-out feeling that comes from trying to do too much in too little time. Here’s how to lighten your holiday load and focus on what really counts.

1. Resist the urge to be Martha Stewart.

If you feel that holiday decor is a must, make an impact simply. A pile of pumpkins and gourds make a festive Thanksgiving centerpiece. Choose wreaths made of pinecones to last you through to January. Buy a fake tree with prestrung lights for yearly reuse. Place a trio of nutcrackers on the mantel and you’re done.

2. Simplify sending your holiday cards

Use an online card company to print, address, and mail your holiday cards for you. Or make a reusable address list to print address labels from (no more hand addressing for you!)

It’s a family affair at our house where we put on a Christmas movie and set up an assembly line. One person stuffs, one seals, one stamps, and one attaches the address label.

3. Get the family to help

Get the kids to decorate the tree. The ornaments may end up two feet from the floor and huddled together for warmth, but who cares? Reward them with cookie decorating using plain store-bought cookies and icing tubes from the cake aisle.

4. Don’t overschedule

If you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed by your holiday agenda, don’t over-schedule your time and take on more than you can manage. Decide in advance just how many parties or other events you can handle, then whittle down the list to your set limit. Politely but firmed decline the rest. You can make plans to hang out with them in January instead.

5. Shop online, when it’s convenient for you

Packed parking lots, long lines, crowded malls, and higher blood pressure – is this what you want? This year, opt for a calmer, gentler shopping experience. Grab your slippers, a warm cup of apple cider and turn on the computer.

Shopping early is a huge stress saver too. I have lots of small paintings (all $85) on my website that would be perfect gifts for house warming, or for family and friends. Buy before Dec. 11 and I’ll throw in gift wrapping with a hand-painted card for free.

Click to see these “little gems” for gift giving.

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