Here Come the Holidays

Have you ever noticed that the last 3 months of the year just fly by?  Once you hit October 1st it’s like Captain Kirk shifts us into Warp Speed.  Football leads to Halloween, my goodness it’s Thanksgiving, then all the events leading up to Christmas, and bam it is Christmas. Wait for it….New Years!  Yikes. Fitting in all the preparation and the extra activities that go along with the holidays can max out your calendar and and leave you feeling drained. Believe me, I know.  By Christmas I am usually wound a little extra tight and start looking wild-eyed like Clark Griswold after the tree burns down in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.

One of the things that helps me keep it together, is planning.  It is what I do best.  These are some things you can do to plan ahead for the holidays and avoid some of the stress:

Use a Calendar/Planner & Time Management

  • Log in Every Event, Appointment or Commitment so you don’t accidentally miss something in the chaos (because it does sometimes feel like chaos)
  • Never accepting an invite until  checking your calendar to avoid Double Booking
  • Check with others to find out when they are available to celebrate shared Holiday Gatherings before setting a scheduled date/time
  • Feeling like there isn’t enough time to get everything done is one of the biggest things that cause us stress during the holidays.  Keep your expectations real by adding extra time to how long you think things will take.  A simple errand can take twice as long during the busy seasons.
  • Try to eat right, stay hydrated and get plenty of sleep to keep from getting sick or feeling run down from the constant go go go.  Seems simple, but it is really important to ward off fatigue.
  • Deligate some small stuff to others instead of feeling like you have to do everything yourself.  This can not only buy you a little extra time, but may also give you some important quiet time while they are completing the task.

Sometimes saying NO because I can’t possibly fit one more thing in that day

I am a “People Pleaser” so it is hard for me to say NO to attending a function or helping out with something I really don’t have time for.  I have learned over the years that sometimes it is a necessity though in order to maintain my sanity and keep stress under control.  Believing that It’s OK to say NO is a hard thing (but it will be ok if you do).

If you are participating in large family functions, voice your opinion.  My former Boss used to say that if you are bringing up a problem, have a potential solution as well.  That is a good idea if your are going to try to change part of a family gathering.  If you are assigned a dish that you hate making, offer to make something else.  If the function date/time really doesn’t work, suggest an alternate date/time and see how it works for others.  You don’t know what’s possible if you don’t speak up and ask.

Lists

Whether you keep a notepad, slip of paper or use an app on your phone, make a list.  Nothing is worse than forgetting a key item when you jam in that shopping trip you really didn’t have time for.  Make the list!  Save yourself some time and frustration by writing things down.  Because your RAM is extra full during this time of year just trying to keep things straight, you forget things.  A list will help you avoid overlooking things you needed to bring or making time consuming additional trips to the store.

Make several lists actually.

  • Gifts List (sort by the person or by the store)
  • Holiday Grocery List
  • Baking supplies you need List
  • What you are taking to that holiday function List
  • Things you have to get done List

Set a Budget

It’s easy for spending to get out of control during the holidays.  Especially if you are not paying attention.  Set a total holiday spend budget to keep from melting down when the bills roll in come January.  It’s easy for spending to get out of control during the holidays. I try to plan a budget and set extra money aside for the costs I can predict.  Here are some of the things I try to plan for:

  • Extra grocery costs for holiday meal preparation
  • Holiday Baking
  • Hostess Gifts, Christmas Gifts and Exchange Gifts
  • Home Entertaining Costs
  • New Clothes for holiday parties, Ugly Sweaters and Costumes
  • Donations for all the good causes  you want to support that pop up around the holidays…like the Food Bank, Mitten Tree, Adopt a Family, etc.

Finding time to Relax and do some things you enjoy

It is easy to run yourself ragged keeping up with your regular job, extra curricular activities and jamming in all the shopping and preparation you need to do for the holiday times.  Set aside a little time for yourself to recharge those batteries.  I find it helpful in keeping my spirit lighter and feeling less stretched.  Try some of these activities to unwind during the holidays:

  • Get a Pedicure or your hair done
  • Take a step back from social media (sometimes it can overstimulate you)
  • Kick your feet up with a cup of tea and some soothing music
  • Disappear while enjoying a hot bath or a glass of wine
  • Catch a movie (there are usually a ton released around the holidays)
  • Take a scenic drive

Make the Internet your Personal Assistant

If you have Shipt or another such store delivery program, take advantage of creating your shopping list online and having them deliver to your door.  This will save you tons of time and stress that makes the cost of the service completely worth it.  Watch for sign up offers on Ibotta where you can get big enrollment discounts.

Gifts to buy?  Plan your list out.  Check the store circulars online and order early so things get shipped to you in plenty of time for the holiday.  You can also order “Ship to Store” so that you can just run in and pick things up without spending an hour poking around finding stuff.  These options let you take advantage of your extra discounts like Ebates, or Ibotta in addition to store sales.  I like to knock out most of mine in my jammies on the couch on Black Friday!

Save Money Where you Can

Let’s talk about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You can save a ton of money ordering gifts online during these 2 days.  The deals are plentiful.  If you have Rebate Apps like Ibotta, Check Out 51,  or Ebates, they will run great offers as well.  Make sure you start from their App when placing orders to get those extra rebates and special deals.  You will be thankful later when you get your Rewards.

Don’t forget travel.  If you have a trip you have been waiting to book, keep Black Friday and Cyber Monday in mind.  First check for deals from the Vendor you will be booking from. Next check Groupon, Ebates or Ibotta for Rebates you can stack with your deal.  The best deal is getting a Triple Play:

Start with Ebates then Use Groupon for additional % off or Ibotta for Bonus/Rebate and buy on Sale from the Vendor.  Cha ching!

Example: Ebates has a 10% Groupon Rebate on the day you shop, Groupon has 20% off any travel booked that day, and the Travel Company is offering a  Buy One Get One 1/2 Off deal.

If the original trip cost was $500 pp you now get 2 for $750 (save $250) and 20% right away if booked through Groupon (save $50) plus a Rebate of $70 from Ebates.  Final Cost $630 for 2 people

If using Ibotta  instead of Ebates, you will either get a Bonus amount or a percentage Rebate.

If you don’t have any of these helpful savings programs, you can go to my Referrals & recommendations page for sign up bonus links.

Most of all remember what it’s all about and try to spend some quality time with the family, or your spouse and just have a little fun.  Don’t beat yourself up if everything isn’t perfect.  You are only human and there’s always next year!

I hope this helps you to Keep Calm, Save some Money and Enjoy your Holidays this year.