THE BLOG
12/03/2014 10:33 am ET Updated Feb 02, 2015

5 Steps to a Stress Free Holiday Season

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Are you overwhelmed by just the thought of your to do list this holiday? Does the idea of making gifts, baking goodies, putting up the lights and attending yet another holiday party put you on edge? Most people overextend during the holiday season and they forget the joy that can come from the simpler things -- and if not joy, not a raging headache.

  1. Get Rid of Elf on the Shelf and Advent Calendars: I was a mom that did a different, custom, unique advent calendar for our daughter every year. It was lovely. It was delightful. It drove me towards insanity. Really, does your kid need a build up to the biggest gift giving holiday of the year with more gifts or Elves doing random acts of chaos in your house? I don't think so. You might think, innocently like I did, that it is all a lovely tradition. Say that when they are 17 and still expecting to get gifts each morning on their breakfast plate or discover the crazy antics that Ellie the Elf had last night. Just stop now. Retire the elf. Back away from Pinterest and all of the Advent calendar ideas. Your holiday can be just as special without the demands of this daily event.
  2. Say No to at Least One Holiday Party or Event: Better yet, say no to three. Even family things that you feel obligated to attend. There is no one taking attendance and if they are they are just creepy. If you feel you must pop into the dreadful holiday shindig that your office is putting on, do it early and get out with the excuse that you have multiple obligations. Even if that is just a cup of cocoa and a Lifetime holiday movie at home with your own family.
  3. Limit Gifts: Everyone in your family, the postal delivery person, and every co-worker can do without the tchotchke you pick out in the exit line of Target. Really. No one needs another thing. Pick out the people that really need something and who you want to share your spirit and hard earned dollars with and give them something a little more meaningful. When you cull the list from everyone you kind of know to the few special folks you can give with more love or at least less stress. Less is more even with the giving of gifts.
  4. Schedule Me Time: This is the most overlooked gift that you could be giving, time alone with you. The only way it is going to happen is if you mark it down in your planner. Schedule time at a coffee shop with your favorite podcast and a cup of cappuccino, a bath using products that don't have Ninja or Kitty in the name, even just a few minutes walking around a mall NOT shopping would be a good start to giving yourself the gift of time this holiday season.
  5. Enjoy the Moments -- Even the Not So Perfect Ones: Enjoy the baking, gift-wrapping, cocoa making, caroling or whatever it is that you are doing this holiday season. Make each moment count by actually being present in those moments. It's so easy to be in planning mode that you lose touch with what you are doing right then and there. You are doing things just to cross off your list instead of actually enjoying them. Make it a plan to stop planning just for a few moments and laugh with your kids when they try to guess what their gifts are, your husband gets tangled in the lights (again), and your dog takes a chomp out of the fudge your daughter is delicately holding just at their eye level. Enjoy the cold, the cuddling and wherever you find yourself. Making moments count just as they happen will make your holiday brighter.

Your holiday doesn't have to have all the things. It just needs you to feel calm and maybe even a little happy -- or at least not popping Tylenol one after the other.

Looking to live a little simpler? Jacqueline Wolven has tips to creating a saner, happier life.