December is finally here! Boy does that month have a way of creeping up on us. It feels like just yesterday we were enjoying the lovely changing foliage, and now, we are facing snow, sub-zero temperatures, and Santa Clause! Like it or not friends, the Holidays are upon us and that can mean much stress and overspending for many. Lucky for you, we have some great tips to help take the pressure off your holiday season so you could enjoy it to the fullest. The 2013 survey by Field Agent Canada showed that last December, the average Canadian spent a total of $953 on their holiday expenses. This is quite high, especially since many among them broke their budgets in the process. Overspending can bring much anxiety, and resentment, especially if it leads to the start of your New Year in debt. With our holiday Blog Series, we hope to ensure you have a bright holiday season, free of stress and negativity. In this, our first of four posts, we offer you some tips to help you respect your budget and reduce your holiday-related anxiety. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, de-stress, and enjoy…
Tip #1: Identify Your Main Sources of Stress
The first step to easing the holiday jitters is identifying exactly what it is that gets your heart racing and your head spinning. Whether it be the impossibly busy malls, packed to the brim with frazzled shoppers, the worry of forgetting someone, the anxiety of pleasing the ‘hard-to-shop-for’ folks on your list, deciding on the perfect menu for your holiday feast, or perhaps even added work pressure this time of year or other personal matters, take the time to think about what it is about December that brings on the added stress. Perhaps it is a combination of things that leave you feeling anxious? Brainstorm and get it all out on paper to make things easier to identify. Once you know what your main stressors are, you could work on action plans to avoid letting them overwhelm you. If you don’t like a busy mall, try and plan to shop on the weekdays, Monday mornings are usually the quietest, even in December. If you are worried about what to get for whom, do your research online at home, and make a detailed list to avoid confusion in the stores. If your boss expects more from you this time of year, make sure you are taking good care of yourself and getting adequate rest so you could perform your best without burning out. Identifying the problem is the first step towards a solution. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, take the pressure off by recognizing your stressors and taking steps to overcome them.
This one comes as no surprise, but we are talking about both time AND money here. The bulk of my holiday stress is less shopping related and has more to do with my having to bake 12 batches of cookies and wrapping 20 presents on Christmas Eve! It has been years since I hit the hay before 4 am on December 24th. That is no way to enjoy your holiday season, so I have made it a point to start ahead this year and ensure nothing is left until the 11th hour.
When it comes to budgeting your time, something that can help is making a detailed list of loved ones that you will shop for including what you would like to get them and how much you intend to spend. Having a clear idea of what your mall mission will be before entering the madhouse will save you much time and stress. Try not to do everything at once, disperse your shopping throughout the month to allow time for enjoyment and regrouping once you return home with your treasures. Use the same strategy for your wrapping, card writing, and baking (if possible, nobody wants stale
gingerbread men) by doing a little each evening and putting them under the tree. Save only the ‘gifts from Santa’ for Christmas Eve. Finally, organizing your time and planning ahead will also help your financial budget as we often overcompensate for the guilt and anxiety of last minute shopping by overspending.
With regard to budgeting your bucks, there are tons you can do to spend wisely this Christmas. I hopped on the DIY train this year and have already started making many useful and thoughtful handmade gifts that are truly quick and simple to put together. Some people think painted pine cones and Popsicle stick ornaments when they hear DIY, but I assure you that could not be further from reality. There are some extremely clever and beautiful gifts you can give for under ten dollars! I recommend checking out the countless wonderful ideas on Pinterest or other online sites. You can have fun, save money, and give from the heart which is truly what giving is about.
Tip #3: Put Yourself on Your List
Last but certainly not least, take a moment, every day this month, to reflect on and appreciate your blessings, relax, and enjoy yourself and your holiday season. You don’t have to blast the holiday tunes if that’s not your bag, but be sure to treat yourself in some way, whatever way brings you the most comfort and joy. We often get caught up in giving to those we love during the holidays, which is a wonderful thing, but we mustn’t forget to enjoy the experience and take care of our needs as well. How many of you have forgotten to stop for lunch during your holiday shopping ventures? Putting yourself on your list will ensure you have the energy to get all of your errands done, but also enjoy the process. I know I plan to bake only one batch of cookies, wrap only a few presents, laugh hysterically while watching Jingle All The Way, and enjoy sugar plum dreams at a decent hour this Christmas Eve. I hope you can all enjoy the same peace of mind this year.
We wish you all a healthy, happy, and wonderful first week of December!
Visit our page next Monday for our second ‘Surviving the Holidays’ post!