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5 tips to stay sane over the holiday season

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5 tips to stay sane over the holiday season

The supermarkets are stocking up the Christmas aisles and the Christmas music and ads will be soon to follow! The holidays are nearly here. Once Halloween is done and dusted, we officially start thinking of "the C-word"!

There's shopping to be done, family to visit, Santa trips and work nights out to fill our calendars. So what can you do to stay on top of the Christmas chaos? Read our 6 tips to stay sane this winter holiday season:

1. Save money on Christmas presents

Some people love gift giving even more than receiving. But we all have our own limitations with money, as well as time. A "Secret Santa" can be a great method for controlling how many presents you need to buy. You can join the obligatory work one, but your friends and family might like to join in one as well so you can all relieve the pressure of present buying. 

Many parents will agree that children have too many toys. However, kids love to get gifts and that is a big part of the holiday season. Ask ahead to find out if there is something specific that they need. Or, even coordinate with family to contribute a small amount to a larger present. This method also works well with grown-ups.

2. Christmas shop early – or late

November is full of deals and sales for pre-Christmas shopping. Make your gift list early so you can keep your eyes open during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. With stiff competition, many retailers will continue to have offers throughout November and even into December. If you stick to your list, you can save a lot of money and time on getting the right gifts and presents.

Even though the early bird catches the worm, the late bird might find something too. Just before Christmas, there are often last-minute deals to take advantage of before spending time with the family. It probably isn’t wise to put off important gifts to the 23rd of December. But for last-minute stocking fillers, you may be in luck. 

3. Buy food ahead of time for holiday dinners

Are you planning on cooking for the whole family? Or maybe attending a potluck dinner with friends? Either way, you can do the food shop early for holiday dinners. Try to buy goods that keep, like canned food, spices and frozen items. Later, you can focus on getting a shorter list of fresh foods closer to the date. That way you are less likely to be stuck with a truckload of groceries and the (nearly) inevitable extra trip to the store to get that one thing you forgot for the big day.

Cooking ahead of time is also possible but requires a bit more planning. If you have foods that can be easily frozen (and still tasty when heated!), why not cook ahead at a convenient time? If you have read through these ideas and not been able to think of anything that you can purchase early or cook beforehand, then maybe you could start small by planning the menu and shopping list. That’ll save some headaches down the road.

4. Plan overnights well in advance

Many times, holidays see people compromising their comfort, especially when it comes to family gatherings and how much is “too much” time together. One way to minimise this stress is to plan well ahead and be clear (to yourself and others) about your needs.

For example, it is lovely if your mother has extra sheets for you to stay the night when coming from out of town. However, that might not be the most comfortable option. Consider booking a nearby hotel so you can have the best of both worlds – time with family and space for yourself. By communicating this early and booking hotel rooms while they are available, you can save yourself a lot of stress and find a healthy balance between time together and a place to unwind.

5. Have stress-free holidays with family and friends

Sitting around the table with family and friends is a great way to stay connected and enjoy the holiday season. Yet, sometimes this can be taxing because many people bring both good and bad energy along for the ride – it usually doesn’t help that cleaning, cooking, planning and travelling can be stressful before everyone finally comes together.

For that reason, keep politics, disagreements and judgements away from your discussions. Wondering why your dad voted for that political candidate? Not happy with your sister-in-law’s spending habits? Feel free to have your opinions (and others theirs) but the holidays are the worst time to try to hash it out. Remember the reason for the season: patience, goodwill and positive energy!

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Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk. Representative example: APR 1270% if borrowing £400 for 4 months. Interest rate: 292% p.a. (fixed). Total amount repayable: £665.48 by four instalments of £166.37. Maximum representative APR: 1604% if full loan repaid after 7 days.