Can you believe that next week is the last week of November? And that Christmas is less than 5 weeks away? With Thanksgiving coming up next week for all my US friends, this week seemed like the perfect time to talk about my favourite 3 tips for a less stressful holiday season. Let’s be honest–Christmas is hard on the waistline, the bank account, and stress levels, but with a few tricks we can come out the other side still feeling pretty dang good!
3 tips for a less stressful holiday season
Create a budget and stick to it!
It’s wonderful to spoil your friends and family during the holidays, but it’s not wonderful going into debt in order to do so. Sitting down and creating a realistic budget for gifts (and sticking to it) is an important part of keeping the holidays stress-free.
There have been many Christmases in the past where our entire gift budget consisted of prize money from a Christmas Craft contest I was fortunate enough to win (or be a runner up) a number of years in a row. When I say that those contests saved Christmas, I’m not kidding. So, when I say I know how important a budget is, I’m also not kidding. Making those dollars stretch was super important.
Speaking of stretching dollars, possibly my all-time favourite tip for staying on budget is taking advantage of bonus point redemption periods. Anyone who has been hanging around this space for a while knows how much I adore PC Optimum (previously Shoppers Optimum) points. Every year I save up my points so that I can go to Shoppers Drug Mart during bonus redemption and get even more bang for my buck.
My little elves tell me that bonus redemption weekend will be Nov 30/Dec 1 and the redemption levels will be:
70,000 get $100
130,000 get $200
250,000 get $400
So if you are almost to the next redemption level check your offers and see if you can stock up on some things you use regularly to reach the next points level. As a reminder, usually 10,000 points = $10 so you will get an extra $20 worth of stuff at the 70,000 level, $70 at 130,000 and an amazing $150 extra value at the 250,000 point level. <— now that will help your holiday budget stretch!
If you aren’t a regular collector of PC Optimum points it’s a little late to take advantage of this year, but you can keep it in mind for future years. Remember, you can’t redeem points to buy gift cards and some other items (tobacco, stamps, etc.), but it’ll still put a good dent in your shopping costs!
Don’t have PC Optimum points? Check your Airmiles cash balance, go through your wallet and look for forgotten gift cards, etc. Remember, gift cards don’t have an expiry date so if you find a gift card for a store you don’t usually shop at, as long as it’s a normal amount (don’t go giving a used gift card that only has $5.62 on it!) go ahead and re-gift it to someone who will use it!
Indulge on the good stuff
Totally changing gears here! Let’s talk about a tip for all those holiday parties and gatherings. Y’all know I’m a big advocate for enjoying treats, but at this time of year when they are so plentiful, go for the good stuff. The seasonal treats and desserts you can’t get the rest of the year. Now is not the time to be filling up on potato chips! I don’t feel guilty at all when I have 3 desserts at Christmas dinner because it’s all stuff I don’t get the rest of the year. I have them and enjoy them and don’t stress out about how many calories are in them.
Another thing I like to do when I get a bunch of chocolate and candy for gifts is to keep one box or package out and stash the rest away in my desk for later. Not only do I not need to have 5 boxes of chocolate on the go, but I’ll appreciate those chocolates a lot more on a random Tuesday evening in March when I have a hankering for chocolate, than I will on December 29th when I’ve been eating chocolate nonstop for a week.
You can have your cake and eat it too – just don’t eat it all at once 😀
Get your shopping and decorating out of the way!
This one is easy for me since I do so much of my shopping at the end of November at bonus redemption weekend, 😉 but I always try to get all of my shopping done by the first full weekend in December because I freaking hate shopping in super busy stores. This week is a great time to sit down and make a shopping plan because next weekend brings us Black Friday and Cyber Monday where you can get some great deals on all those other gifts. Shop early, take advantage of the sales, have a better selection, fewer people in the stores, and get that out of the way so you don’t have to worry about it in December.
I also love decorating for Christmas and I will put up EVERYTHING on December 1st. I go all out with the most decorated Christmas Tree you’ve ever seen. Ha ha! Not only do I get to enjoy my decor for the whole month of December, but it means I REALLY get to enjoy it because my shopping is done, so I can sit around drinking Christmas Tea while watching Christmas movies and making Christmas crafts.
That is when I really feel like I’ve won Christmas!
These tips obviously don’t take into consideration the stress that family gatherings can cause for people, all the activities that you are running to all month long, and other stressors that pop up, but what they will do is help you feel less stressed overall, so when those other things happen, you’ll be better able to deal and you won’t feel so much like Christmas snuck up on you like it tends to do.
Bonus–if you are local and need someone to wrap gifts come December 20th, give me a call. Chances are I’ll be itching for a little extra Christmas activity. 😉 So, those are my 3 tips for a less stressful holiday season. What is one tip you’d add?