Three images of the upcoming holidays Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

4 Ways to Make Your Holiday Planning Easier

Fall is here, and holiday madness is just around the corner! For many of us, early October marks the beginning of a three-month-long holiday frenzy when we spend more time in stores than we might like, decorate and re-decorate our home to reflect the season, and have more items on our to-do list than hours in our day. Although the holidays bring joy to our lives, there is something particularly stressful about having three big ones spaced only a month apart, right at the end of the year.

This year, step into fall with a few proactive tips to help manage holiday craziness.

1. Take care of yourself
We put this one first because it’s the most important. You can’t tackle your to-do list if you’re under the weather. Fall typically marks the beginning of cold and flu season. Couple that with the high stress that accompanies the holidays, and you’ve got the perfect storm.

Make sure you’re not skipping the basics: a balanced diet that includes plenty of water, quality sleep, and your daily multivitamins (Vitamin C is a good add-on this time of year if you’re not getting enough). If you’re active, don’t let your fitness routine slide! It can be tempting to skip it to save time, but you could end up feeling sluggish and tired instead.

2. Quality over quantity
Do you ever find yourself meeting all your holiday obligations, but you don’t enjoy yourself? Well, it’s time to re-evaluate. Think about the holiday traditions that are truly meaningful to your family and focus on those. That might mean skipping the annual neighborhood cookie swap and finding someone else to organize your office holiday party. If it doesn’t add to your enjoyment of the holidays, it’s time to let it go.

3. Start early
Nothing makes the holiday season more stressful than racing around at the last minute. Whether it’s crafting the perfect Halloween costume for your child or planning your family’s Thanksgiving dinner, you’ll probably feel more relaxed about it if you give yourself time to work. Start googling recipes, table decorations and costume ideas to get the small items together now, so you’re not running out for them later.

4. Get organized
It’s not too early to start mapping out your holiday plans. Between school events, fun seasonal activities, and holidays, fall and winter weekends can fill up quickly. Pull out your calendar and put your plans in writing so you can be confident you don’t accidentally miss anything. Oh, and remember tip #2, be brutal when you’re deciding how your family will spend your precious time together. Unless it’s an actual school or work requirement, if you and your family don’t enjoy it, don’t put it on your calendar.

This is a beautiful time of year with many opportunities to find joy and contentment, but it can be stressful. With a little bit of planning and the right attitude, you can enjoy your holiday season rather than agonizing over it.