5 Steps to a Low Stress Holiday Season

While the holidays can arguably be the most joyous and heartwarming time of the year, they can also quickly become a source of a great deal of stress. 

To ensure your holiday season is only full of warmth, authenticity and love we've put together a few tips to help you take it easy. 

1. Focus on experiences, not gifts 

One of the most common stress inducers is, of course, money. With a number of relatives on both sides of the family you undoubtedly feel the need and desire to give everyone a gift. However depending on your financial situation you may simply not have the budget for expensive or even mid-range gifts. 

Solution? Focus on experiences. Instead of going shopping, stressing over not having enough money, worrying about whether the recipient will like the gift or not, do something different. 

Make a short list of their favorite things. Say they love cooking and reading. Schedule some time to cook their favorite meal with them. Check out their favorite book a the library and offer to read it together. Remember that the gift of time and attention is the most valuable gift of all. 

2. Make a goal to have meaningful conversation

We all have an uncle Bob who loves to talk politics, religion or generally bring up subjects that we have a polar opposite view on. Instead of rolling your eyes or getting into an argument, ask uncle Bob a few meaningful questions that will make him forget all about politics. 

Has he traveled a lot? Ask him to tell you a story of his most memorable trip. Has he and aunt Marge been married 30 years? Ask him what, in his opinion, is the secret to long lasting marriage and why. Ask him what he would change about his life if he had one wish to do so. Engage, be authentic, listen. 

We promise that when you come with an open heart and mind, you will leave with incredible memories and feeling closer to your relatives than you ever have before. 

3. Pick one thing you love about the holidays and make time to do it, just for you

Holidays can inevitably become hectic - you have to run to the grocery store three times in one day to get everything ready for Christmas dinner, kids are screaming as they drag the cat by the tail from under the Christmas tree, your house hasn't been cleaned. We've all been there. 

In order to make sure you have a great holiday, find one activity you love about this time of year and put it on the calendar. 

Do you love walking downtown at night, seeing all the decorations and lights and sipping a cup of hot cocoa? Ask someone to babysit your kids, or if you don't have any, get in the car and allow yourself an hour of down time. You will be so much happier as a result. 

4. Have a rough plan of activities and a few board games handy

Family coming over? You have to idea how to entertain them? Make a short list of a few options that will appeal to everyone and have it handy to avoid screaming matches in regards to who wants to do what. 

Activities can include:

- A game of hide and seek for kids and adults

- Board game time at the table (have adult favorites too such as Catchphrase, Cards Against Humanity, Cranium, etc.) 

- Picking a few of your favorite Christmas movies to watch together 

- Making time to walk down memory lane and remember your craziest/most memorable/most fun/most weird Christmas story

- Taking everyone on a much-needed post-dinner walk

5. Make a memory jar

It's easy to get lost in a hustle and bustle of family around but this year we encourage you to remember the fun times and anecdotes by making a memory jar. 

Take a mason jar/large empty container with a lid and have short strips of colored paper and pens next to it. As your guests are arriving/mingling/interacting, ask them to come by the jar, write their favorite memory from today and drop it in. By the end of the night, you will have a jar of memories that will warm your heart for years to come.

What are you favorite stress relievers during the holidays? Share with us in the comments below. 

We hope you have an amazing holiday season full of joy, laughter, family time and love.