Don’t Let the Holidays Stress You Out: Follow These Sanity-Saving Tips

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holiday stress sanity saving tips Providence Moms Blog‘Tis the season for holiday cheer. And holiday stress. So, what is a mom to do?

Breathe in and out. And follow my holiday sanity-saving tips below.

Give back. Give something. Anything. Whether your time, your talent, gifts, or meals to those in need. Inspire your kids to get involved. Do something with a charity that means something to you. This can instantly put you in the holiday spirit and remind you and your family about the true meaning of the holidays. One of my local favorite charities is Ronald McDonald House of Providence. I gathered some friends recently to do a charity walk in support of RMH. It was an inspiring day! Find a charity road race in your area to help kick off the season in a positive way.holiday stress sanity saving tips Providence Moms Blog

Be a thoughtful gift-giver. Remember, it’s the thought that counts. Set a gift-giving budget that makes sense for your family. And remember, the more THOUGHT you put into the gift, the better.

-Decorate in stages. Don’t expect to put every holiday decoration up in one day. Be realistic. Make it a family affair. Do it in stages. Outdoor lights one entire weekend, wreaths the next. Then the tree. And so on, and so on. Start early so it’s fun.

Make holiday cards less taxing. Don’t worry about taking a professional family portrait for your holiday card every season. Use an existing family photo and create a card online using sites like Shutterfly.com, TinyPrints.com or Snapfish.com. You can also print existing photos and place them in ready-made photo cards found at card shops like The Paper Store. If you’re having a busy year, take a break and send an email card to loved ones. Or surprise them with a New Year’s card instead. Or have your kids create a Christmas drawing and make multiple copies and give them out as cards.

Create a new tradition. If you’re tired of dragging your kids to different places every holiday, create a new tradition and invite family and friends to your house. If you get stressed out about planning a party, remind yourself it can be anything you want it to be. Make the event more of an open house, prepare a couple simple dishes ahead of time, and ask people to bring items to help lessen the load. Remember, it’s not a contest. It’s about being together for the holidays.

Think outside of the (Big) Box. If you don’t know what to buy for someone, stay away from Big Box stores and visit local shops in your area. The gifts they have in store may surprise you. Plus it’s more fun! holiday stress sanity-saving tips Providence Moms Blog holiday stress sanity-saving tips Providence Moms Blog

Give something homemade. Make something homemade like cookies or pastries and place them in decorative baskets, boxes, or tins. Have your kids pitch in to make it even more special. These make thoughtful gifts for teachers, neighbors, friends, and relatives. Tie it with special ribbon to add a nice touch.

– Start a Secret Santa Swap. Talk to family members about starting a Secret Santa gift exchange to lessen the load. We do this with our extended family so you only have to buy one gift if you have 25 cousins and three aunts, for example. You can set a specific price limit so you’re respectful of everyone’s budgets. The idea also means less shopping for everyone. We use Elfster.com to help pick names for loved ones who live out of state.

Shop online. The internet is your friend this time of year. Use it to do all your shopping if necessary. But never leave your computer open to gift-giving web sites or you’ll spoil the fun. Either pin favorite items on Pinterest.com or email yourself specific web sites so you don’t forget what’s on your list.

– Special messages. If you’re out of ideas for special people in your life, try a “homemade and from the heart” gift – a Holiday Memory Jar. You don’t have to be a Pinterest queen, I promise. This is something we’ve done for my mother and mother-in-law (and my grandmother who passed away last year). All you need: One empty mason jar, a bow and small pieces of paper. Divide the papers (365 individual pieces for daily messages or 52 for weekly messages) evenly throughout your family. Each family member (especially kids) writes a special or funny saying, message or memory on each piece of paper. The recipient can enjoy opening a new message every day of the year.

Host a Swap. Start a White Elephant or Yankee Swap gift exchange with friends or family members. Invite them to your gift swapping party and enjoy the evening over cocktails and appetizers. If this stresses you out, wait and do it in January!

Share Stories. Looking to give something a little different this year? Give the gift of family stories through a web site called Storyworth.com. Each week, a loved one answers prompted questions about their life and childhood and by the end of the year, they receive 52 stories compiled into a hard cover book for family members to enjoy. I’ve given StoryWorth to my husband and dad and they both say they’ve enjoyed it immensely. We look forward to seeing their private books in 2018. For more details, visit StoryWorth.com.

Give experiences. If you can’t think of what to give that special someone who has everything, do something different this year. Give EXPERIENCES rather than traditional gifts. Make a Year of Wishes Jar filled with 52 pieces of paper listing individual weekly ideas for you to do together. Ideas can range from simple to extravagant, from going on a bike ride to tickets to a concert. Tailor the wishes according to that person and your budget.

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Jackie Hennessey is a Rhode Island mom who honestly gets what other mothers go through. Having worked full-time, part-time, and been a stay-at-home mom too, she sees motherhood from a variety of angles. And thankfully, with a sense of humor. Jackie blogs about her take on motherhood and mid-life at ventingsessions.com and writes about it in her award-winning gift book, How to Spread Sanity on a Cracker. Jackie is a native Texan with some roots and relatives in Rhode Island. (She's a NASA kid and her Houston accent usually comes out when she's blasting Willie Nelson in the car.) She has more than two decades of experience in public relations and journalism and holds a BA in journalism from Texas A&M University, where she received the “Best Aggie-Life writer” award. (She still has the tacky maroon plaque in her home office to prove it.) Jackie was a cast member of the 2013 and 2017 Listen to Your Mother Shows, where she formed lasting bonds with the incredible women she shared the stage with in honor of Mother’s Day. Her writing has been featured in The Barrington Times, the book Mommy Diarist and blogs like Scary Mommy and BluntMoms. She has donated her PR expertise to many local non-profits from Arts Alive to Dress for Success since launching her professional pr consultancy in 2006. When she’s not writing, consulting, volunteering, ubering her kids around, vacuuming up dog hair or folding laundry while binge-watching Netflix, she likes to vent with dear friends over cheese dip. Jackie is married to her high school sweetheart and they live in Barrington, Rhode Island with their two teens and three fluffy and friendly Golden Retrievers.