Before this August, every long weekend, holiday and minute of spare time, I spent bent over homework, in group meetings, and writing exams, midterms, and term papers. Such is the life of a student.
It took me six years to finish my degree, because I worked full-time throughout the whole thing. This means that I haven’t been able to enjoy the holidays – any holidays – for six years. It’s hard to enjoy something when you are worried about finishing an 75 page business proposal.
Prior to this year, I had to ensure that my holidays were as stress free as possible. If I had holiday stress on top of my school and job stress, I would have had a nervous breakdown.
Here’s how I made sure that it went as smoothly as possible:
Buy Gifts Early
After years of my teenage-hood of working in a mall, I learned not to scramble at the last minute to buy gifts for my family members. I had witnessed enough of this madness to scar me for life.
Every year, I saw people in the malls on December 23, rushing around and cursing under their breath because they didn’t have any ideas of what to get their husbands/wives/kids/parents, and the stores were sold out of every feasible idea.
This also sucks the fun out of gift giving. So I learned to buy gifts in October and November. This not only saves money, but also removes the stress and puts the fun back into it.
If you did leave the gifts to the less minute, which happens to the best of us, avoid the malls!
The chances of you finding what you need at the mall is slim to none anyway, since most of the stores have already been picked over and stores don’t typically restock popular items a couple of days before Christmas.
Lines in the malls in the week before Christmas are horrifying, and you can easily spend half an hour waiting to buy a $20 toy for your kid.
If you can, shop online. Make sure you give yourself enough time for shipping. If you are really cutting it close, some stores will let you buy the item online and then swing by the nearest store to pick it up. This eliminates the time suck because you can go pick the item up in the evenings when the lines have died down, and you also won’t have to search the entire store for the item.
If you are travelling anywhere to spend the holidays with family or friends, book your tickets now.
The holidays are the most high-traffic travelling time, so flight, bus, and transport tickets sell out quickly. You don’t want to be stuck with no way to get home for the holidays.
If your destination is more than an hour drive, eliminate the stress of driving on snowy roads or in bad weather by flying or taking a Greyhound. It may not be your preferred way to travel but roads are stressful in the winter, let alone around the holidays.
Shop Smart For Groceries
If you are the one hosting a dinner or a party of some sort for the season, shop smart.
Avoid the grocery store on weekends, because they are sure to be busy, sold out, and crowded. If you must go on a weekend, make your trip for a Saturday morning; as soon as the store opens.
If you can help it, week nights are the best time to go grocery shopping. Not only did the stores get their shipments in during the day, but they also will be far less crowded, thereby making it easier to navigate your way to the aisles you need to shop from.
If you can, stock up on the non-perishable goods far in advance during your weekly grocery shopping trip to make the trip closer to the date of the event less hectic.
Following these guidelines, you’ll eliminate a lot of stress from your holiday season.
How do you ensure a stress-free holiday season?