You just sent your kids back to school so why does it seem like it is already almost 2018?! Once the kids are on their first bus it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the deluge of holidays seemingly right around the corner. The great thing about the holiday season though is that it is a very predictable series of events. Back to school, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all happen each year, at the same time, and have similar needs and expectations. This is a both planners dream and a procrastinators worst nightmare! Check out five ways to make your upcoming holiday season stress-free. Even just tackling one of these four ideas will ease any anxiety and keep negative emotions at bay.

1. Simplify your seasonal decorating. Decorate for the season of Fall in general, not Fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Wait to decorate for Fall until it hits that season on the calendar at the end of September. Only decorate as much as you can without feeling stress or pressure. If the thought of decorating for any particular holiday is bringing on feelings on anxiety than it might be time to scale back. You and your family will enjoying the upcoming holidays more if your personal stress levels are low, so give yourself permission to light a fall scented candle and call it a day!

2. Make a present list. Take note of everyone you plan to buy Christmas presents for and brainstorm a potential gift idea and budget before the end of September. The sooner you do this the better so that you can be on the lookout for the best prices and sales for gifts you need. This also allows you to know who on your list still needs some brainstorming to narrow in on their perfect gift. If you have some ideas for gifts, create a list on Amazon where you can track if prices are changing and then have the item ready to order when the time comes. Having a list will also help you make sure not to miss anyone. You will be surprised at how much a present list will streamline your gift giving and the time it takes.

3. Make a plan for Halloween. Find out what day and time trick-or-treating is taking place where you live. Add any extra dress-up days at your children’s schools or day cares to your calendars and set alerts. I usually set an alert for one week out and a second alert either the day before or morning of a special event. Make your smart phone work for you! Find out who in your family needs a costume. Ask friends to borrow costumes, check out your local thrift shop, and avoid Pinterest. Order candy or treats of your own to give away online and avoid any crazy shopping experiences.

4. Ask for help, and be honest. If you are hosting Thanksgiving dinner and your guests ask what to bring, give them something to bring. Make decorating for Christmas a family event. Not great at Halloween costumes and your best friend is? Ask them to help you! Consider hiring a cleaning service for your home just during the holidays to take something off of your plate during a particularly and predictably busy time of year. Use gift wrapping services that are often available during the holiday season. There is no shame in using your resources to help create a happier holiday season for you and your family.

5. Consume social media critically. Do not let FOMO ruin your holidays. Not everyone is doing elaborate Elf of the Shelf adventures or picking apples on a perfect fall afternoon, or setting elaborate Pinterest-inspired tablescapes for Thanksgiving. If you are one of those people and it brings you joy, awesome! If you are not, you are still awesome. Choose to invest time in the activities and traditions that are meaningful for your family not just trendy on Facebook.

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