Friday, November 17, 2006

26 Holiday Survival Tips

Since being overwhelmed seems to be as big a staple of the holiday season as the jolly fat man himself, I thought I'd share this list I received of some survival tips. Add this to Counselor Shelley's suggestions and you'll be good to go this year. I'm away for the weekend, so comment, comment, comment, and a fellow Playfriend will select one of today's commenters to win a book. I'll email you Sunday when I return.

Here we go...

  • Get the members of your household to make a list of holiday expectations (i.e., what they want to see, do, feel, experience). Share your lists and discuss.
  • Less is more. Get everyone to cut their seeing and doing lists in half. This in itself will help guarantee a “relaxing, old fashioned holiday.”
  • Make ‘things to do’ lists to keep you organized.
  • Get enough sleep. Fatigue can lead to stress, overeating, alcohol abuse, and numerous family problems.
  • Let go of family traditions that are too much work or simplify them (e.g., after tree decorating, spread a checkered cloth on the floor and have a picnic instead of the traditional 5 course meal).
  • Avoid family tug of wars. Ideas: 1) spend one holiday with one set of relatives, and the other holiday with another set, then alternate years. 2) choose a day before each holiday to spend with relatives and spend the actual holiday at your own home enjoying your own traditions.
  • Consider extending holiday get-togethers through the first 2 weeks of January instead of cramming it all into November and December.
  • Do something special for people you don’t know. Call a local shelter or nursing home to see how you can help. (Helping the less fortunate can help you put your own problems into perspective.)
  • If you live alone or are recently divorced or widowed, make special plans like a holiday vacation so you won’t feel lonely or isolated.
  • Plan a post holiday activity that everyone can look forward to.


  • Make a budget and stick to it. (Don’t forget hidden expenses like travel, postage, carpet cleaning, etc.)
  • Leave charge cards at home or clip and index card to the back of each card so you can keep a running total of charges. Don’t charge more than you can pay at the end of one month.
  • Shop alone so you won’t be distracted from your list and your budget. To avoid crowds, show in the morning or near dinner time.
  • Before buying big gifts like computers or appliances, check the product rating in Consumer Reports magazine.
  • Tuck a paperback in your pocket in case you have to wait in long lines.
  • Shop when you’re well rested and well fed. You can make very expensive shopping mistakes when you’re tired.
  • Draw names and put a dollar limit on gifts if you have a large family.
  • Decline department store’s ‘generous’ offers to delay payments until February or March, its easy to get in way over your head.
  • Consider giving homemade gifts.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of brisk exercise every day to reduce stress, take the edge off your appetite and help prevent winter blues.


  • If wheels (bikes, skates, etc.) are on your gift list, include the necessary safety equipment (helmets, knee pads) too.
  • If you’re a winter holiday skier, warm up, and keep the first runs light and easy. Quit before you get tired. Most ski injuries happen at the beginning and end of the day.
  • Never drive after drinking. If a friend has too much to drink, call a taxi or extend an invitation to spend the night.
  • Make sure your home smoke detectors are working.
  • Keep both fresh and artificial trees far away from fireplaces, radiators, candles, tvs, and heaters.
  • If you didn’t get a flu shot in October or November, consider getting one in December.

Got some holiday tips of your own to share? Please do! Any of the ones above resonate with you? Tell us! Remember one of today's commenters will be selected to win a book of their choice from my stash. By the time this month is over, I'm only going to own 5 or 6 books. :)

Yesterday's winner was Beth! Congrats! Email Instigator to claim your prize.


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Minna said...

Stress and food: you don't have to do everything at once or at the last minute. You can for instance make a cookie dough and put it in a freezer and make the cookies out of it later. Just remember to shape it into a bar so that it's easier to cut pieces out of it when you take it out of the freezer.

readingissomuchfun said...

Hello Bloggers,

WoW some great tips I must say. I enjoyed reading them :)

I like to do my holiday shopping early :) Also I make gifts. I make beaded jewelry's, Book thongs, jewelry boxes and other things I can do with arts & craft. I love doing arts & craft.

Also I have to go with what Minna said.

Loved the tips thanks so much for sharing. Btw I am a newbie here. Love the blog :)


readingissomuchfun said...

Oh one more thing. Want to say Congrad's to you's on the one year anniversary YaY!



TravelGuy said...

Nice article!

Kudos! Like reading it.

I think I will survive my next
vacation because of your tips!

Airport agents are really
helpful. I have experiences
with their good nature.

Seems it is their job to do


Maureen said...

You have some good tips in your blog. In our family everyone makes up a list, not just the kids. You just pick a choice from the list so there is no guessing or worrying.

Meljprincess said...

Thanks heaps for the tips. Here's one: to avoid stress avoid family. lol! I was talking to an ultrasound tech yesterday who told me she didn't like X-mas either and her sister always plans a getaway by herself to somewhere like the Caribbean. Sounds good to me.


Kathy said...

Congratulations, Beth!

Sneaking off, eh, SP? We miss you already.

Minna good ideas. Readingissomuchfun, wish you could make all my christmas goodies.

Another tip: (Coming from someone who likes to do everything homemade!) Instead of making your own cookie dough, use short cuts like buying dough that's pre-rolled. Sugar cookie dough is being sold like that this year. Take the dough out of the wrapper and cut out cookies. How easy is that? Also, buy refrigerated peanutbutter cookie dough, form into balls, roll into sugar, bake and then put a Hershey's Kiss on top. My DH's favorite! Easy to do and tastes homemade. I promise!

Make dough beforehand, place in refrigerator for later or roll into log and put in freezer. Then all you have to do is heat up the oven, slice cookies and bake. Works especially well with oatmeal cookies.

Delegate! For years now, my daughters have helped with the baking. Though the result oftentimes has not been as neat, the joy on their faces was worth it and time saved made a big difference.

Hope this helps someone.

Kathy said...

Oh, forgot. With peanutbutter cookie dough you can also put a small ball of dough in a mini muffin tin. With thumb make whole in center of ball, in a sense forming outer crust of cookie as dough works up sides of mini tin slot. Add a mini Reeses Peanutbutter Cup, bake. YumYum!!! My Christmas buddies love these and love to make them.


robynl said...

congrats Beth!
Making a 'to do' list resonates with me; I make lists all year long and love to see things marked off as I do them.
I shop all year long for gifts I know will be good for certain ones; I do crafts also(the women in our family used to make one Christmas craft each year when Mom was alive).

Jennette said...

I love the lists, SP! I do a lot of these already, but there are some good new ideas here, especially in the less stress section.

My addition to your lists: I loathe crowds, so I shop online as much as is practical (taking price, selection etc. into consideration). I order as soon as I have my gift list firmed up, to lessen the likelihood of the online merchants being out of what I want. I also buy multiple gifts from one online store to take advantage of free shipping whenever possible.

Tam said...

Congratulations, Beth!

Thanks for all the great tips.

Here is a tip. When making cookie dough, roll it up into small balls and freeze some instead of baking it all. Label the container. We do this, and have several different kinds of cookies in the freezer ready to be baked. We like having fresh baked cookies without having to prepare them. This way all we have to do is take them out of the freezer and bake however many we want.

Minna said...

Reeses Peanutbutter Cups... I really miss those (and Reeses Peanutbutter bars and Peanutbutter m&ms). Can't get them anywhere here in Finland. =(
Oh, and cookies aren't the only things you can make ready or half-ready and then put them into a freezer for later.

Problem Child said...


If I turn on my oven and cook, what comes out is "homemade."

CrystalG said...

Great tips! Very helpful.
I think it helps if you ask the people you are buying a gift for to supply a list of items they would like to have so you can get something they really want. It works great for our family.

Jennifer Y. said...

Those are some great tips...some of those things are ones I never would have thought of.

bamabelle said...

Thanks for the great tips! Some of those we already incorporate, but there are some new ideas that I will be trying. It is definitely true that doing something for someone else is a great way to help out and put your own problems in perspective. When I remember that there are people that don't have enough food to eat, that really makes my problems small and inconsequential in comparison.

krissyinva said...

I usually bake tons of cookies around this time of year. In past years my niece and nephew sold tubs of cookie dough as a fundraiser for their school, which makes it simple but always great cookies. This year my son sold cookie dough for band and they are already pre-formed so it will very simple this year. I love baking but alot of times the perfect recipe is nowhere to be found. Okay we make have gone overboard this every but we bought enough cookie dough in different varities for 30 dozen. Well that includes the dough my mom and sis ordered too, but I end up cooking all of them mixing them all up and sharing varities. I have to pick up cookie dough on monday, lol. I'll gain 10n pounds by new years!!

Problem Child said...

{{hugs}} on the lack of Reese's cups. Those are my all-time faves.

Sheryl m said...

I don't know what it is about this time of year, but I really get into the whole baking/candy making thing. I have promised myself a stress free season, but I do not believe I will completely achieve it.

catslady said...

Those are all wonderful tips and they sound wonderful now but for some reason I never seem to follow through lol.

KarenG said...

I make lists for everything since my memory is not so good anymore. I enjoy making food gifts for my friends and those who have helped me during the year. It saves on costs and they enjoy it.

Carol said...


These are all great tips! Thanks!

Playground Monitor said...

Sorry to be late chiming in. I've been battling some sinus problems and a stomach bug. Ugh!

These are great suggestions and I'm not sure I could add anything. I've simplifed the whole Christmas deal in the last few years. The fewer decorations I put up, the fewer I have to drag down again after the holidays. The house still looks festive. It's just not decorated to the hilt.

In my family we send out a list of what we'd like or need for Christmas. That way we don't spend time and effort on something someone doesn't even want.

College kids always appreciate gift cards or gift certificates from places like Wal-Mart, Target, McDonalds or Chick-Fil-A.

For seniors I've found that magazine subscriptions are good. They get something every month and it's easily disposed of.

Booklovers will appreciate a gift card from a local or online bookstore. That way they can get the book they want rather than you having to guess.

I like those cookies that come in a big square and you break them apart and bake. :grin: They rate right up there with ready-made pie crust.

I make a gift list for the whole family each year and list what I gave each person. It's on my computer and I can check back to make sure I don't give Aunt Susie a hand-knitted scarf two years in a row.


ChristyJan said...

Learn to say NO to extra things you've said yes to in the past and shouldn't have