For many of us, the holiday season is full of hustle and bustle. While we enjoy getting together with family and friends, the holidays can be one of the most stressful times of year.

To avoid having stress take the joy out of your holidays, check out these tips.

Set a holiday budget and keep track of what you spend

Holiday spending can turn into a big headache and financial problems after the holiday. When setting your budget for this year, include all expenses — not just the cost of gifts. Figure in costs of food, entertainment, decorations, travel, holiday cards and postage as well as the cost of new clothing for the season. If possible, look at how much you spent in previous years to help set your budget.

Decide how you will cope with stress

Each of us deals with stress in our own way. Whether it is taking a walk, listening to music, reading a book, meditating or enjoying one of your hobbies, discover what works for you to eliminate some of the stress that will find you during the season. When you are feeling stressed out, this will be your “go-to source” to get re-energized and re-focused.

Plan whenever you can

Planning is not just about making a “to-do” list and marking things off as you go. It also involves working “smarter.” Do the bulk of your shopping for gifts at one time to maximize the amount of time you have available when preparing for the holidays.

Set aside time to do your wrapping all at once — minimizing the number of times you have to pull out and put away your wrapping supplies. If you are baking for Christmas, consider making a double-batch of cookies and freezing some for later to keep them fresh for holiday gatherings.

Avoid impulse shopping

Shop far enough in advance that you can compare prices and take advantage of sales. Do not be pressured to buy the first item you see in the store or that pops up on your screen as you are shopping online.

Spend wisely on groceries

Check for sales on shelf-stable items and plan your menu around affordable choices. If entertaining friends and family consumes a large part of your holiday budget for food, consider pot luck dinners, or plan the menu and divide the preparation among the people attending. Not only will this help you financially, it will also eliminate some of the stress.

Stay healthy

Encourage friends and family to wash hands before meal preparation and eating. Avoid cross-contamination between raw meat and other items. Cook foods to the proper temperatures and make sure leftovers are stored safely no more than two hours after serving.

Avoid overbooking yourself

As much as we want to celebrate with our loved ones, do not plan too many activities where you get to the point you are no longer enjoying the season. Give yourself time to rest. This time away will help you better enjoy participating in gatherings or events.

The holiday season is a time for joy. Avoid striving for perfection in everything you do. Give yourself credit for a job well done, no matter how big or small, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Years from now no one will remember how clean the house was or if that gift had the perfect bow to match the wrapping paper. They will remember the fun times you had together as a family or group of friends. Keeping this in mind will make all the difference in your holiday season.

For more information on family resource management or adult development and aging, contact the Marais des Cygnes Extension District in Paola at (913) 294-4306 or Mound City at (913) 795-2829 or write to kgoul@ksu.edu or check out the website: www.maraisdescygnes.k-state.edu.

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