Managing the Holiday Stress

Yesterday I braved the chilly winds and walked around with my camera and of course Frodo.  The air smelled and felt like impending snow but nary a flake fell.  So sad.  However, I'm sure soon there will be snow.  Can you believe we are nearly a third of the way through December?  Oh, I wish I could slow down the days.

I find during the holiday preparation, the stresses can get the best of me.  So I thought I'd share how I manage these stresses.  Keep in mind, this is how I've done my holidays for years and I'm sure you have a system that works for you.

Tip One:

Start early and prioritize exactly what you want done.  I am lucky because I exchange gifts with my husband's family in October and my side of the family in November.  This forces me to shop and wrap and be ready. This significantly lightens my stress of gift buying in December.

When the kids were little, I started shopping in October, each weekend focusing on a family group or one of my kids.  I nearly always finished by the end of November.  However, save some money for when the kids write their Christmas list and there's something on it you did't know to buy!

I tend to start knitting for people in September. However, as I've stated before, I knit all year round the projects that I like and then promptly put them into a general gift box to pick and choose from when the holidays arrive.

Tip Two:

Be flexible in your expectations.  I have ideas of what I want to knit for people but I prioritize and have an alternative plan if I don't meet those goals.  I'm happy either way and you know what?  If the gift is secret knitting, the recipient will never know you are using the alternative plan!  Be gentle and kind and realistic in your goals.

my partner in crime

Tip Three:

When Advent rolls around I like to have all of the shopping done by December 10th.  That gives me plenty of time for simple easy shopping like impulse buys or little items.  Also, I have plenty of time to wrap, bake and enjoy the Advent season.  Next week, I'll start my baking (yay!).

I discovered a LONG time ago that I am not good at procrastinating.  I crumble and become an emotional mess so for me being on task leads to a happy holiday spirit.

me liking my new coat after a month of wearing it and missing the old coat..

Tip Four:

This the the most important tip.  Plan something special for yourself for Christmas Day.  I like to have a knitting project for me all set up and ready to cast on.  I've done this for years and find it's fun to know that my knitting for others is over and I can do something decadent for myself.  What a treat!!

I had to rip three rows yesterday....such a rookie!

What are your tips for managing the holiday stresses?


  1. We have seriously simplified gift giving over the last few years which has greatly helped the holiday stress factor. And my husband (who works com home) has taken over the tree task, another thing that used to stress me out. Now I can savor the season stress free.

  2. Karen I love your last tip, such a lovely thought starting on something for yourself. I have found over the years that an early start for me is a must, along with a list. Enjoy your baking.

  3. So you're saying I need to plan, start early, prioritize, and be flexible? I'm not terrific at any of these, so that explains much of my holiday stress! I have bookmarked this wonderful post, and will give it a real try next year. Your last tip is perfect as I have been trying to think of something special to do on Christmas so I don't miss my boys too much. Thank you, Karen, and stay warm in your great new coat!

  4. I pretty much do as you do. I shop and wrap early. I'm behind this year, but not by too much. I like to have everything in the mail by Dec. 7 -- missed that! I love your idea casting on on X-mas day. Time to treat yourself!

  5. I am still learning, but I found your words helpful. I do a lot of my gift buying early. I don't have time to bake near the holidays though as we are always visiting others nearer to the time. So that's tricky for me and I have yet to bake earlier like I wish to.

  6. These are excellent tips! I especially like the last one; I always have the family over for Christmas dinner and it would be nice to curl up with a new project after everyone goes home. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Love your coat and your knitting!! I, too, do pretty much as you. I often pick up gifts during the year -- when I see something that is "perfect" for a friend, or something I just can resist for someone. I keep a big tote bag in my closet that I call "my bag of tricks." I did, however, discover this year that the bag was kind of empty...but I've managed to score things that I think folks will really enjoy. This weekend is all about getting the tree up and wrapping gifts - all that need to be shipped (and that's a lot). I love your idea for Christmas Day. I've done that in the past with a new sampler to cross stitch...this year I think it will be all about knitting.

  8. My tip? Have a very small family??? LOL

    I've never really stressed about Christmas because we only do the things that we want to do. For the most part, that meant forgoing a tree. Neither of us liked putting it up or taking it down.

    We have no children that would be disappointed --- we LOVE holiday lights and so we do THAT instead.

  9. You have Christmas planning down to a fine art. Our Christmas is a simple affair, but it can still be stressful at times. Thank you for your tips and I wish smooth waters as you navigate the last couple of weeks.

  10. I was a selfish knitter this year, knit for myself and the 2 little grandkids. Much calmer this year. Socks for 10 was major stress last year. Keeping it simple. Jackie

  11. You have some good tips, and I am certainly in need of all the help and advice I can get at this point. I have fourteen people showing up in two weeks, and I will have to feed and entertains them for five days. Yikes!

  12. So fun to read your tips. I am trying not to overthink our Christmas at the new house. BOth kids are traveling long distances by plane to spend this precious time with us. I keep serious lists because I dont want to give someone the same thing two years in a row or otherwise. Being retired is my big tip. It makes it joyful all month and it makes it very easy to put on CHRISTMAS. I have knitted during the year and reach to that drawer for gifts during the year and at the holidays. Loved this post of yours

  13. we have a tiny family, we dont do gifts...i just knit year round for charity and thats my haven...Love your tips, they are very helpful..
    have a great weekend..

  14. Great suggestions, Karen, and much needed this week! I am like you, I shop early and try to get all my shopping done by the end of the second week in December. I have simplified my gift giving as well as the amount of cookies and candy baking I do. I find that my anxiety spikes during this time of year so I am mindful of this and take care to allow myself time to rest. I love this time of year and find that by simplifying I have more time to just be present.

  15. Great tips Karen, thanks for sharing. The whole season isn't a super big deal for us, we take is slow and easy...there is only a small amount of gift giving, but lots of time with friends and family. I don't find this time of year overwhelming at all, but instead love the hustle and bustle....because I get to watch it and not be a part of it ;)

  16. Good advice. I buy myself a gift. This year a little sheep to knit!

  17. I used to be so good. Before the kids came along, I always had all of my shopping & crafting done by Thanksgiving. I refused to go in a store after Thanksgiving. But the kids came along & ruined me. These days, I tend to wait until the night of 12/19 to start frantically ordering anything I can find off Amazon and praying it arrives by the 24th. I've also been known to finish sewing on buttons or attempting to dry/block knitted things on the car's heater vent on the way to Christmas Eve dinner. While I dream of a peaceful, calm, slow paced Christmas season, I think I secretly enjoy the chaos and stress. As for my Christmas Day "Me" knit, I've got a giant box of yarn sitting here beside me just waiting. (Yep, I ordered my gift to myself long before I ordered gifts for others. Shame! Shame!)

  18. Great tips here, Karen. I admit I am a procrastinator.

  19. I am apparently not much of a planner but a brilliant procrastinator. But I'm working on it ;-) It always comes out well in the end without even making me too crazy. My goal this year is to have everything that "needs" to be done finished by Sunday so I can relax and enjoy.


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