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We are all well aware that while the holiday season can be a wonderful time of year spent with loved ones, it can also bring with it some stress. Just a few examples: spending hours trying to make your house look festive; thinking of the perfect gifts for family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, then having to go get those gifts and wrap them, while trying to not spend a fortune; making special food for the celebrations; and feeling pressure to make special memories. Don’t forget to leave room for unexpected things to happen, as well!

I have a theory that holiday stress can derive from feeling a lack of control. Which means that in times of stress, I have found that best thing you can do is focus on what you CAN control. Control the holiday stress instead of letting it control you. I have tips that can help you do this!


1. Plan Ahead As Much as You Can

To keep the focus on the things you enjoy during the holidays, it helps for family members and friends to plan ahead the who, what, when, where, why, and how to your events. When everyone is on the same page about the details ahead of time, you prevent a lot of misunderstandings, making your actual day of celebrating more likely to run smoothly.

Some ideas for planning ahead:

  • The key: good communication.
    • Set up group text messages or emails discussing the plans with family members. You can arrange who brings what dish for dinner, and all the things you’ll be doing that day.
    • No matter what way you discuss these plans, make sure it’s all summarized and shared with everyone so you’re all on the same page and are aware of the plan.

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2. Discuss Holiday expectations and desires and try to meet them

We all have expectations and traditions we want to experience each holiday season. Going along with good communication, it’s crucial to talk about these so they can actually happen.

How to do this:

  • Each of you writes down a few things you truly care about doing this holiday season and discuss a plan of how to make those happen.
  • Trade off sharing them with one another while explaining WHY you care so much.
  • Once you are both done sharing, discuss which ones you can reasonably do and how you will make that happen. If some of the desires are just not possible because of circumstances, come up with alternatives you can do instead.

Benefits of this exercise:

  • If each spouse gets to do at least one tradition or experience they love, there is little room for disappointment.
  • Having your own concrete plans and priorities during the season allows you to make decisions easier. For example, I really love going to see a movie the day before Thanksgiving. We’ve already discussed what movie we would see, what time, and where. If we get offered to do something else that night by friends or family, we already know that this is an important tradition to me and so we know to turn down their offer. But if they want to join us for our movie, they are welcome to!


3. Have Your Own Merry Little Christmas

We tend to associate the holidays as being spent with immediate and extended family members, but we forget that as a couple with or without children, you are your own family too. So don’t forget to make time to have your own merry little holiday together!

a few ideas for doing this:

  • We celebrate our own Christmas with just each other on Christmas Eve morning, because that evening and the next day seem to be packed full of traditions with our parents and siblings. This allows us to have our own celebration with our own traditions.
  • Utilize the days you get off from work and school to spend more quality time together that you don’t always find throughout the year. Do your usual dates that are less rushed, or do something special and new like a hotel stay.

We have had our own little Christmas for two years and have loved it for a few reasons: 1) We get to put our marriage first before family time which is always a good idea. 2) Sometimes family holidays can be disappointing or drama happens, right? (Exhibit A of something we have little control over). If we’ve already celebrated parts of the holiday on our own, whatever happens after that won’t “ruin” our holiday.

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When all else fails, react positively

I hope these three suggestions can help in preventing holiday stress this season! However, what do you do if stress is STILL trying to find you?! The way you react in to a situation becomes the last piece of control you have before holiday stress takes over.

One thing that helps me react positively to negative situations is remember the things that matter most. Keeping your mind focused on the “reason for the season” helps you adapt better. For example, if the turkey burns, you can react positively by realizing that it’s not the end of the world, and that the reason people came was for the good company and not necessarily the turkey. Haha.

Whatever YOUR reason for celebrating the holiday season, focus on it. It helps the little details seem not so important, and the big things as just a speed bump.


This article was specially written for Date Night In Boxes!  You can check out the other great articles on their blog, and of course, their awesome date boxes! Just know I may make some money if you purchase something ;)

Keepin' marriage fresh,
Amy

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