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How to Achieve a Stress-Free Holiday Season

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Aug

For years I would feel stressed and strung out throughout the holidays only to wind up on New Year's Eve feeling like I missed out because I was too busy. And a few years back I finally said no more. I am sharing my tips and advice on how to achieve a stress-free holiday season and actually get to enjoy it. Catch it now along with my planner over on KaraLayne.com

For years I would run myself ragged through the holiday season trying to do it all. And then come New Year’s Eve I would look back at the last few months and regret the things I didn’t get to truly enjoy with my family. I finally said never again! I truly believe you can do it all (at least what you deem important and intentional) and enjoy every moment without stress. So I am sharing my tips and advice on how to achieve a stress-free holiday season and how I have found success in approaching the holiday season in a more intentional way!

We are two days away from September 1st. And you know how quickly the ball starts rolling with all of the holiday festivities from fall and Halloween to Thanksgiving and Christmas. For too many years I was racing around only to find Halloween costumes sold out. Too many years of missing out on holiday cards to send. Too many years of last-minute stocking stuffers and hours of wrapping on Christmas Eve. And listen, I believe in simplicity through the season and I also want to keep the bigger picture in mind and the true joy and magic of these few months. However, I also want to infuse traditions and I want my kids to see the holidays done in a big and special way. And I want them to see a mother who is part of it all with a smile on her face – not stressed and strung out. After all, we only have 18 years of this, right?

Not to mention, we are up against something new this year and these manufacturing delays and supply line hiccups. Companies have already been vocal about the fact they will not be able to fulfill holiday demand this year. So changing habits beginning this year and working ahead on all of the holiday festivities? Not a bad idea if you ask me.

If you fail to plan then you plan to fail

This concept is true in all things (*ahem, my fellow business owners and the holiday hustle), but to achieve the goal of a stress-free holiday season I had to lay out all that comes with it beginning in September. We’re talking fall decor to Halloween costumes, annual family pictures to Christmas cards, and even planning ahead for Thanksgiving dinner. I worked on creating a schedule to reduce the stress and leave myself open for all of the festive fun with my kids. And to really get that bird’s eye view, I created a very simple planner to keep me on track. A complete layout of what I need to accomplish in September, October, and November to be my best self through it all.

For example, because I always seemed to run into the issue of Halloween costumes being picked through by mid-October, I knew that was something I needed to get done earlier. So by September 30th, I will make sure that Halloween costumes are finalized. Another task I make sure to get done in September is planning out our wardrobe for family pictures. I always hated when I was running to stores trying to find anything that would work at the last minute. By handling that in September, it means that we have photos scheduled in October, which means Christmas cards are done before Thanksgiving. Some people will call it crazy, but I promise you will love the change.

And decorating for Christmas at the beginning of November? Gasp! Who would ever do such a thing?! But can I be honest? When I moved to the south and saw how southern women approach this? My mind was completely changed. Because they have Christmas decor handled at the beginning of November, they glide through hosting Thanksgiving and thoroughly enjoy all that comes with November and December festivities. Meanwhile, I was huffing and puffing, staying up late, and saying no when I wanted to say yes. So now? You better believe I have Christmas up much earlier than the weekend following Thanksgiving.

Here is what my planning entails by month:

September 1st – 30th

  • fill out our calendar of events for the entire holiday season
  • finalize holiday gift list (this includes not only for our family, but anyone like teachers or coaches, etc
  • schedule our annual portraits (even though I shoot these myself, I get them on the calendar. And yes! You can shoot your own Christmas card photos if you need it to be more budget-friendly)
  • plan out our wardrobe for portraits
  • decorate for fall (first week in September)
  • gather mailing addresses for holiday cards ad any gifts that need to be shipped
  • coordinate Halloween costumes (by September 30th)
  • holiday gift shopping (start as early in the month as you can – take advantage of the Labor Day weekend sales!)

October 1st – 31st

November 1st – 30th

  • purchase stocking stuffers
  • wrap all gifts
  • prep any gifts that need to ship + send them
  • decorate for Christmas (first week of Thanksgiving)
  • Send Christmas cards (weekend before Thanksgiving)

December 1st – 31st

KICK BACK & SOAK IT ALL IN!!

What a wonderful thought, right? The idea of actually getting to relax, enjoy your favorite things, dive into the festivities with the kids, all while not stressing over getting it all done. All it takes is a little effort, planning, and developing the habits.

If you want to snag my holiday schedule and planner for yourself, you can grab it here. Print it out and put pen to paper or load it onto your iPad and use it digitally!

And outside of following a solid plan to make all the holiday things happen, there are some tips I want to share that will hopefully help you in achieving a stress-free holiday season.

For years I would feel stressed and strung out throughout the holidays only to wind up on New Year's Eve feeling like I missed out because I was too busy. And a few years back I finally said no more. I am sharing my tips and advice on how to achieve a stress-free holiday season and actually get to enjoy it. Catch it now along with my planner over on KaraLayne.com

My tips in how to achieve a stress-free holiday season

TIP 01: PLAN AHEAD FINANCIALLY

Having five kiddos I completely understand the stress of the holiday season when it comes to our wallets. However, in following the plan I laid out above, I have found that it reduces so much financial stress to spread everything out over the course of 2-3 months when it comes to shopping. Before I was cramming it all in during the month of December (seriously, sometimes two weeks before) and wondering why I was having chest pains. Funny and not so funny – wink! Set a budget as well to keep yourself on track. Not to mention, it allows me to be so much more intentional with my gift-giving and really put thought into it.

TIP 02: MAKE A SHOPPING LIST

From gifts to craft supplies and recipe ingredients. Use Evernote or your notes app on your phone to keep track of the gifts you need to get the kids, family members, friends, or anyone else in your life. This will keep you on track because I can’t tell you how often I would over-spend on one of the kids because I forgot about a gift I had previously purchased! This will also help you feel less frazzled when in the stores during the busiest times over the next few months. You know, when the lines are long and the patience is short!

TIP 03: GET CREATIVE

Sometimes the pressure that comes with gifting can be overwhelming. There are so many people in our lives that we want to love on, but it can be a lot. Perhaps you have teachers you want to shop for, and coaches, and maybe even co-workers. Take some time and think about how you can include them in your holiday fun without causing hardship within your home. Think of treats you can bake, or perhaps homemade ornaments the kids can help you make. And who doesn’t love something hand-made, right?! So much crap is sold in the stores these days – I love the idea of making things more personal. (And stick around – I’ve got some things headed your way to help you out in this area!)

TIP 04: BE PICKY

Remember the most important thing: YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALL. Truly, I am giving you permission right now. You do not have to do all of the things to have a glorious holiday season with your family. We learned long ago that saying no to some of the activities or extended family requests was better for Jarett and I as well as our kids. It kept arguments at bay and allowed us to enjoy some slower moments with our children. It’s okay to move slower over the next few months. Just because it’s the holidays does not mean that you owe your time to everyone and everything else. You need to enjoy the season as well and if that means not making yourself available for some things, then so be it. Make no apologies for it. Find that middle ground between sharing the season with loved ones and making sure that your home is filled with peace.

TIP 05: KEEP IT SIMPLE

Let’s always remember that the first Christmas was the most simple of all and meant the most. We don’t need a house decked to the nines with new decorations or the latest and greatest tech gifts under the tree. Make time to teach them about the reason to celebrate. Make time to bake the cookies, read the books, and get your hands messy in some crafts. Fill them with the spirit and magic of the season. Soak it all in. I promise you that our children will remember our presence over presents.

I hope you found these tips and planner helpful in how to achieve a stress-free holiday season. And as we move into the month of September, I am wishing you a wonderful one. One filled with joy and all good things. One that lifts your spirits and lightens your heart. Here’s to being intentional with our holiday season. Here’s to keeping it simple and making it beautiful!

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