The holidays should be a time for friends, family, and festive fun, not frazzled nerves and exhaustion. One of the biggest reasons that people say they don’t enjoy the holidays is that they feel overworked and over-committed, leaving them little time to enjoy their annual traditions and once-a-year events. If you’re among those who are so busy trying to participate in the holidays that you can’t enjoy them, then we have seven time-saving holiday hacks to put in your stocking. Follow these tips to maximize your seasonal enjoyment without maxing out.
- Create a Strategy for Shopping. If you’re a holiday shopper who wakes up at 4 a.m. for 5 a.m. door busters, reclaim part of your day by planning exactly what you want and from which stores. Rather than arriving at the mall or a few big box stores and fighting the crowds for anything you can find, plan in advance exactly what you want from where so that you can get in and get out. Spend the rest of the day, watching your favorite holiday movies with your family.
- Work Ahead so that You Can Take Time Off. Maximize family time, especially if you’ll be traveling or hosting by working ahead to meet end-of-year work-related project deadlines. For any assignments that you know you’ll need to complete between Christmas and New Year’s Day, prioritize completing them early so that you can be present for things like presents.
- Work Backwards to Avoid the Last-Minute Rush. One of the most significant holiday stressors comes from the last-minute rush when stores are the most crowded. Sit down with your calendar and set deadlines for when you want to complete holiday-related commitments. For example, if you need three dozen cookies baked for Christmas Eve, block out the Saturday before for all-day baking so that you don’t end up starting the night before at 8 p.m. And then realizing you’re out of flour.
- Accept that Everything Can’t Be Scratch-Made. If you’re responsible for the holiday meal, pour your efforts into the turkey and sides, but then take it easy on yourself with simple appetizers and desserts. You can even consider store-bought apps and desserts, or for once, accept your sister’s offer to bring the pies, even if she’s not the best baker. It’s the thought that counts.
- Shop Online. There’s a reason why e-commerce sales made up almost 17 percent of holiday shopping in 2018. You’ll benefit from time-saving convenience when you shop online and don’t need to drive around to various stores to find what you need. Bookmark some purchases for Cyber Monday to maximize savings.
- Freeze It. Complete some of your holiday cooking in advance earlier in the month, before party season kicks off, and freeze your creations. This works particularly well for casseroles, lasagna, cookies, cakes, and some appetizers.
- Say No to Some Social Invitations. Going to every party, choir concert, and cookie swap will leave you feeling burned out and more humbug than happy. Accept that you will need to say no to some invitations, and convince yourself that saying no is okay. You can’t be everywhere, and if you don’t leave yourself time for mental health, you’ll be saying no because you’re stuck at home, feeling drained.
Remember that the holidays only come around once per year, but that doesn’t mean that you have to cram eleven months of events, parties, and preparation into December. Prioritize what you can, say no when you must, and make sure you are present in every moment that’s left, and you’ll finally reach New Year’s feeling refreshed and ready for what’s next.