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Savvy Ways to Stay Sane this Holiday Season

Some people think the holidays are "the most wonderful time of the year." They can also be the most stressful. Don't turn into a Grinch this season. If you plan ahead, stay flexible, and give yourself a break, you'll be feeling festive in no time.

These simple tips and tweaks can help you stay merry and bright during the holidays.

 

Shop Smart

Before you start buying gifts, decide how much you can afford to spend, and don't forget to factor in "hidden" expenses: postage on Christmas cards, higher utility bills when you have overnight guests or use extra electricity for Christmas lights, Uber and Lyft rides home from holiday parties.

When shopping, try to spend only cash so you're not stuck with up-to-the-limit credit cards and humongous bills come January. If you absolutely must use a card, choose one with the lowest interest rate.

Before heading to a store or website, check for printable coupons and online codes to maximize savings.

 

Gifting Made Easy

Make memories by giving the gift of experience. Instead accumulating more "stuff," spend on dinner or drinks with loved ones, splurge on a group vacation, or pay for an event you and your family can enjoy together. Gift sets or holiday boxes are also perfect for the season. Many of them are already "wrapped" and that can save you time and energy. 

For that persnickety person on your list who's never satisfied with anything, make a donation to a charity in his or her name instead of agonizing over another material gift that won't be appreciated.

Don't get stuck spending top dollar at the last minute for something you forgot or didn't anticipate. Think ahead and keep a stash of basics on hand such as candles, picture frames, bath & body sets, and wine so you're never caught empty handed if you find yourself with unexpected guests or social events.

 

Ship Smart

If you're behind on buying gifts, don't get your tinsel in a twist. Take advantage of Free Shipping Day, which falls on December 14 this year. Hundreds of online retailers participate, from Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman to Dell and Dermstore — not to mention Target, Macy's, and Walmart. With no minimum purchase and delivery by Christmas Eve, it's an easy way to bring joy to your world.

 

Give Yourself a Break

Who says everything has to be perfect? I’ll bet your guests won’t even notice. Slash your to-do list. Prep food well in advance, before the holidays get crazy — cookies, desserts, appetizers, even entrées — so you can stop stressing in the kitchen and spend time with your guests. Delegate chores. Take shortcuts. Order takeout. Have a potluck. Use paper plates. Ask yourself, "Will I drop dead if this task doesn't get done?"

 

Don't Lose Your Balance

It's more important than ever during this hectic time of year to maintain your regular routine as much as possible.  Don't give up healthy habits that keep you centered: Go to that exercise class. Meditate. Get enough sleep. Drink plenty of water. Take your vitamins.

Calm down! Take some "me time" to de-stress and recharge. Even a few minutes can make a difference. Get a facial. Take a bubble bath. Cuddle with your cat. Indulge in a massage. Put on some music and dance! When all else fails, BREATHE!

 

Treat Yourself

Decide in advance to allow yourself an extra helping at dinner, another glass of wine, or dessert. This way, you don't have to feel guilty or deprived and you can enjoy the holidays while staying within limits.

That doesn't mean you should overindulge all the time. Have a healthy snack before a party so you don't lose control at the buffet table. When it comes to cocktails, pace yourself by sipping a glass of water or club soda between alcoholic drinks.

Plan to include yourself on your gift list. While shopping for everyone else, you know you'll be tempted to buy yourself something, so acknowledge it upfront and look forward to it. You deserve it!

 

Happy Holidays!

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