It's that time of year again. Time to pull out the decorations, put up the lights, pick the perfect turkey, find a tree, attend a hundred parties, shop till you drop and then some more, find the perfect presents, wrap all the gifts, watch every Christmas movie known to man, sing all the Christmas carols, avoid looking at the budget, try not to see how your neighbors' decorations are better, forget that you've already gained five pounds, and ignore the larger presents at your wealthier sibling's house. Oh, and have a happy holiday.

It's that time of year again, isn't it? The holidays are meant to be a time of joy, but often they're a time of major stress. Here are just a few tips to help you avoid the stress this holiday season.

Make it about family

The holidays aren't supposed to be about all the tinsel, bright lights, and shiny toys. The holidays are about relationships, especially family relationships. Let go of the delusion that giving your family the best Christmas ever means giving them the most perfectly expensive Christmas ever. The most memorable family experiences often involve simply spending time together and enjoying one another's company. This also means you should put away the phone or the iPad when you're with your family. In fact, consider making your house a no-tech zone entirely on Christmas Day.

Embrace the spirit of giving

The Christmas spirit is a spirit of giving. But sometimes we get so caught up in equating that with presents that we forget all the other forms of giving. For example, take the time to forgive someone who has wronged you. Give your kids more of your time. Give yourself some time to relax and rejuvenate. Give to those who are in need. Give your faith a boost.

Don't feel like you have to do everything

Your to-do list this time of year is a mile long, and there are likely things on there you are doing simply out of guilt or the desire to be perfect. If getting to that Christmas card list is causing anxiety, consider skipping it this year. If you want some time alone with your family, cut back on the white elephant parties a little. If wrapping presents is something you're dreading, ask for help from your spouse or older children.

Let go of the guilt

Your holidays don't have to be perfect in order for them to be happy. If your budget is small and your family is big, do what you can and show your children, by example, how grateful you are for what you have. If you feel like you aren't giving enough, take some time to step back and evaluate yourself honestly. It's more than likely that you are. But if you're not, make adjustments and lose the guilt anyway.


The holidays should never be a time of stress. If you are feeling that you somehow don't measure up, or you aren't doing enough, refocus yourself on your family. Find ways to embrace the spirit of the season, and let go of the idea that everything needs to be perfect in order for you to have the perfect Christmas.

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