Ask the Readers: How Do You Avoid Stressing Out During the Holidays?

By Ashley Jacobs on 29 November 2016 58 comments

Editor's Note: Congratulations to Ana, Julie, and Sarah for winning this week's contest!

Many people look forward to the winter holidays. It's season of fun, family, and feasts — but too often, we allow tradition and expectations (ours and others') to turn December into one of the most stressful months of the year.

How do you avoid stressing out during the holidays? What traditions have you ditched to make the holidays easier on yourself and your family? What do you enjoy most about the holiday season?

Tell us how you avoid stressing out during the holidays and we'll enter you in a drawing to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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Guest's picture
Guest

I balance doing things for me, like running and reading, with things like spending time with family. I also just tell myself that the holidays don't last too long. Generally though, I don't get too stressed during the holidays, I just enjoy them.

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Mami2jcn

I avoid stressing out by ordering a holiday meal instead of cooking it.

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Julie Wood

I buy Holiday gifts all year long and look for good deals so I am not rushed during the Holidays looking for all my gifts.

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Jen D

To keep stress levels low throughout the holidays, I focus on what Christmas is really about - the birth of Jesus Christ. I keep the decorations simple...most can be left out after Christmas. Our children are all adults now, so we keep the cost of gifts very low. This year we're doing an ugly Christmas sock gift exchange with a $20 spending limit, which includes the price of the socks and the bow. I love celebrating with my family best. We'll eat well, play some games, watch a movie, and maybe bake some cookies together.

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Karen Patterson

I give mostly cash or gift cards to avoid shopping.

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Chris

I love the holidays and don't really get too stressed about them.

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Elena

I avoid stressing out by starting holiday shopping early

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Darleene

The past few years, with money so tight (hello, daycare bankruptcy!), I've had to just suck up the fact that I cannot buy gifts for everyone I would like to buy gifts for. Where its been possible, I've bought things for my siblings, and let them buy the bulk of toys and Christmas clothes for my children. We focus on buying a tree and doing holiday activities. You can only do what you can!

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Annie

A few things: We try to have all shopping done before Dec. 1. We have convinced our families to do "secret santa" format of gift giving to lower the gift load and costs. We set expectations in advance of which side of the family we are with and we don't try to pack in visits to everyone. We also try to do things not related to gifts, lke participating in the Audobon annual christmas bird count. And an extra glass of wine here and there goes a long way :-)

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Gina

I avoid stressing out during the holidays by not giving in to consumerism. What I love most about the holidays is the food!

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Guest

I start making dough for Christmas cookies in October. I freeze it. Then all I have to do is roll it out and make all my Christmas cookies. Saves lots of time.

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natasha lamoreux

I avoid feeling stressed during the holidays by doing a lot of online shopping and planning ahead for everything.

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Denise L

I prioritize what's most important. Whatever is not on the "most important" list can go undone without any feelings of guilt. Family time trumps gift-buying, cookie-making and all the rest.

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Kellie

I don't find the holidays to be particularly stressful. I'm in my early 30s and years ago, decided to shed the worst part of the holidays - forced consumerism - and instead focused on the things that truly make the season enjoyable. I focus on love, laughter, spending time with friends and family, and making time for my own leisure.

Guest's picture
Susan Smith

My husband helps me out a lot when I get too overwhelmed with stress. I do a little bit each day.

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Kelli

We just try to keep it down to a sane, reasonable amount of social engagements this time of year, and we've whittled down gift giving to just pets, children, and one adult via drawing names. It makes things so much easier and more laid back.

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Elle

I do not wait until the last minute and plan ahead. Lists and organization also helps a lot.

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Betty

To keep stress low, I say no to a lot of events. I will maybe go to one party during the month. Gift giving is easy in my family. We all just name a few things we want. Even Christmas dinner is easy.

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Yvonne

Set and keep a budget and shop online. Majorly stressfree!

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Lisa

I used to do my shopping last minute and it would completely stress me out because I hate crowds. Mostly I waited until the last minute because I didn't have the money. So now, I save all year so I don't have to wait until the last minute and I haven't had to do last minute shopping in years. Makes the season much more enjoyable!

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Lisa Kreutter

I relax, breathe deeply, exercise, journal and meditate.

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Ernest S.

I try to continue my normal routine of fitness and other hobbies, even when spending time with my family and friends.

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Jeff

I avoid stress by eating lots of cookies!

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Mary W

I make lists. Lots and lots of lists. I ask for help and take it when offered. I stopped trying to do everything and make everything from scratch. I do what I can to the best of my ability and don't worrying about the rest.

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Mystica

I try to do a few tasks every day so that the pressure is less by the time the actual date comes around!

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Ashley P.

I buy gifts throughout the year when there are sales so I'm not scrambling to buy presents at the last minute.

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Michelle D.

I use coupons and buy food items I know I will be using when it's on sale.

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Louly

I try to schedule small things to do one at a time so I don't get overwhelmed the night before!

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Guest

I try and plan ahead. i make purchases throughout the year, stock up on food and other items ahead of time. At Thanksgiving I purchased two turkeys. One is in the freezer for Christmas. Write cards while watching tv...

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Monique Hubert

I love the joy of the holiday season and time spent with friends and family (and the food). So my family has gotten rid of anything we don't need to do. We do kind of a White Elephant exchange to reduce stress and money spent.

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Kim D

To keep stress-free, I try to get all of my shopping done (online if possible!) way in advance - this helps me avoid the crowds, traffic, and general stress surrounding Christmas tree shopping. I also try to take off the last two weeks of the year so I can focus on enjoying time with family and friends vs. getting work done. Luckily a lot of people tend to take off this time so things are generally quiet.

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Rebecca Ross

I avoid the crowds, shop all year long and keep a list of the gifts for people that I have stored in my "gift dresser", and I try to get everything else done ahead of time, too.

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Matthew M.

Booze...booze...and more booze!

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Raina

It's the stress of travel and being away from home that gets to me the most. Since I'm introverted, I really like my alone time at home, so committing to being away from home and being constantly surrounded by a group of people (family) for several days wipes me out. I haven't discovered a way to tackle this stress and usually just power through it and then crash when I get back home.

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C Hui

I don't worry about gifts or material things and instead focus on spending time with my family.

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Norma Norris

First, I allow myself not to be perfect from the very start of the Christmas holiday. Doing something for someone else - whether I know them or not - relieves stress. It can be as simple as picking out a person, while in line at the checkout, and praying for whatever they need the most. The gifts I give are simple but chosen with care. This year meaningful photos reproduced on canvas are ordered for those on my list.

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MelodyJ

I take a break from everything for a while before jumping back in.

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Michelle B

We don't have kids or really any other close family other than my husband and myself. So really we only have gifts for us and our dogs, so it's not that hard to buy things for just 2 people and two pups. I try to shop black friday or cyber monday in order to cut down on costs for our presents and whatever else we need at the time.

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GB

I don't wait until the last minute to do my shopping.

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Sarah Shim

We order a holiday meal instead of okming.

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tiffany dover

I shop year round and prep randomly throughout the year for the holidays. It's all about organization and communication!

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Donna D

Cash and gift cards for most recipients. I have a Christmas Club at the bank so I have the cash I need for gifts.

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Catseye

I do very little Christmas shopping because I'm in survival mode. I must admit that it saves me a lot of stress.

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Guest

Not really buying or receiving gifts take most of the stress out of it. And Xanax when I fly!

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Liz Blunt

The month of December is highly stressful for me so I try to get extra sleep, take longer walks and eat more fruits and vegetables. It truly seems to help my stress levels.

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Mark C

We only do gifts for the kids so it saves stress and money.

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Ana Lee

I plan ahead and buy things on sale.

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Tamara Bronaugh

I bought a great prelit tree, no more untangling strings of lights. They are LED, should last a good long time. Why didn't I do this earlier????

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Tracy

This year 11 of my family members from various parts of the country will be getting together for Christmas. To keep the stress level low we're just "exchanging" stocking stuffers instead of gifts. Keeps the pressure off to find something nice, but without going over budget.

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Guest

I avoid stress by keeping the holidays as simple as possible and not over-committing to events. I make sure to focus on spending time with my loved ones and only doing the things that bring me joy.

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amanda sakovitz

I avoid stress by having a little me time.

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SKB

I usually stop shopping around December 1st. I spend time at home and try not to over schedule activities.

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J. Pario

I do very little gift-giving-- just my parents. Sometimes my spouse, if he is a good boy ;)

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Lynda

i avoid the malls and try to shop earlier and online

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Happy Love

I do most of my shopping online and only put up a few decorations since we go to Grandmas house for Chrustmas.

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CYNTHIA

I avoid stressing out by taking some quiet time to myself everyday to meditate, take a walk or just drink my coffee in order to center myself and gain perspective.

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Tabathia B

I really cant avoid the stress during the holidays. I just deal the best that I can. I try to have a list of what I need and shop during sales or online. I make a menu plan and try to have the items i need within the severals days before needed.

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Thomas Murphy

I just don't get stressed out from the holidays.