Stress Free Holidays

Now that you’re done raiding your kids stash for all of the good Halloween candy, it’s time to focus on more pressing matters. That’s right. We are going to talk about the, ever so quickly approaching, holiday season.

The holidays can be such a joyous time for so many. Family and friends gather to break bread and exchange gifts, warm sweaters are dawned once again, fire places are alight, parades and music make even the meanest scrooge twinkle with delight, and snow begins to dust the landscape in soft blankets of sparkling white!

The remaining two months of the year can be a wonderful and magical time, however, it is also one of the most stressful times of year. Sure we have the fun stuff I mentioned before, but we also have to shop for the bread we break and the gifts we exchange.

In order to buy the requirements of the holiday, we need to fight crowds and traffic like Kevin McAlister fought the bad guys trying to rob his house in Home Alone, like George Baily fought his way back to his Family in It’s a Wonderful Life, or like Ralphie Parker fought for his beloved official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle in a Christmas Story.

You get the picture. As wonderful as the holidays are, it can also be a huge and stressful battle that makes the holidays seem more like a time to dread than a time to look forward to. This stress is only made worse by the fact that the holidays begin earlier and earlier each year. Bah Humbug!

No one escapes the end of the year stress whether you celebrate the holidays or not—you will be affected one way or another. As stressful as it can be for ordinary people, it is nothing compared to the stresses of someone with a chronic illness.

In addition to stressing about the crowds, traffic, and time constraints, we must stress about whether we will feel well enough to do any of it.

Will we be well enough to buy the ingredients for the things we volunteered to cook? Will we feel well enough to shop for gifts? If you’re like me and travel over the holidays, you stress about how you will feel when making the trip and how you will feel when you get there.

I don’t just travel, but I travel to the town I grew up in which means that now I have additional stresses to act as the cherry on top of my jumble mess of stress sundae. Let’s do some simple math. I have thirty people to visit plus one dish to create for Thanksgiving plus four gifts to exchange since I won’t be returning for Christmas plus a partridge in a pear tree divided by X amount of hours in X amount of days—carry the one…ahhhhhh!!! Something’s gotta give! The first thing to go is this stupid math equation. I was never very good at it anyway.

So what do you do when you have so many things to worry about over the holidays?

The same thing you do when you get a math equation that seems a little out of your skill set.


To help you navigate the holidays with as little stress as possible, I have complied a list to simplify your plate this holiday season so you will have extra room to enjoy your turkey and gravy.

Pot Luck Gatherings

Whether it is a Thanksgiving dinner, a Christmas feast, or a New Year’s Eve bash—in the math of stress, potlucks equal your lucky day!

It’s common to put a lot of stress on a potluck, but if you find yourself in a situation where you are asked to make a contribution, you should offer to bring something that doesn’t need cooked. Paper plates, drinks, veggie trays, premade dip and sliced French bread, or a ready-made dessert.

Drinks, plates, and napkins are the first thing to be forgotten at a potluck. Your host is sure to be eternally grateful for your most thoughtful contribution once the guest are attempting to wipe their hands on the drapes.

If you find yourself dying to make something because you’re the Martha Stewart of the chronic illness community, consider your slow cooker to be your greatest asset and make a dish that you can set and forget. Do a Google or Pinterest search for “Slow Cooker Holiday Dish” to find one that is up your ally.

Keep Plans Flexible

I know this can be sort of hard but it is a good idea to try—especially when it comes to your kids. We all have a little Martha Stewart in us so for many of us, doing holiday crafts with our kids is a much honored tradition.

Make sure the supplies are things you already have on hand or would be easy to get so the when the moment strikes, you can begin making memories with your kids right away!

I am partial to cinnamon ornaments. I used to make them with my mom when I was young and I still make them today.

You can find the instructions here.

Not only do they look great and are easy to make but they will make your whole house smell like the holidays! The ones pictured here are ones I made with my niece and nephew last year.

When making plans with friends, be vague. Tell them you want to get together with them at some point to exchange gifts or whatever the case may be. ‘At some point’ leaves it open to interpretation. Then the moment you are feeling well, call them for a last minute lunch or invite them over.

Shop Online Whenever Possible

Whether you need to shop for groceries or gifts, shopping online is a great way to avoid traffic and crowds and gives you something to do on the days when you’re stuck in bed.

Many stores are joining in on grocery ordering. Some, like Publix, will even deliver the groceries providing you live a certain distance to the store.

Walmart, Publix, and Greers are just some of the stores that allow you to purchase your holiday goodies online. Did I hear someone say eggnog?!?!?

Don’t forget that many of your gifts can be purchased online, too! Cyber Monday often extends beyond Monday and is the black Friday of the internet so if you’re looking for some good deals, the Monday after Thanksgiving and a few days beyond is the time to buy.

Many online retailers also waive shipping charges and offer other incentives to get people to shop online for the holidays.

Amazon Prime has free two day shipping and stores like Walmart and Target offer free site to store delivery or free shipping on orders over a certain amount.

Some stores offer free shipping over the Holidays no matter the case.

Many credit card companies and retailers also offer cash back which can come in handy during the holidays.

You want something that is homemade and from the heart? Consider buying from Etsy this holiday season.

Consider Reevaluating Your Decorations

I am a firm believer in decorating for the holiday you’re celebrating! Not only is it just fun to do, but holiday décor can increase your mood—especially when you’ve been sitting in the bed for far too long!

Consider doing a permanent decoration. What I mean by that is do a decoration, when you are feeling well, that can be reused for many years to come for those moments that you are feeling less than best. I did this permanent tree last year.

I wasn’t feeling great, certainly not well enough to put up an entire tree, so I used a large piece of cardboard that I white washed with paint, three or four strands of ever green garland, two strands of lights, and some embellishments to create this little gem.

I drew a triangle on the cardboard, hot glued the sting of light to it going back and forth, did the same with the garland, and then glued on my embellishments. Now I have a Christmas tree that can brighten up even the dreariest of rooms at a moment’s notice! I decorated the rest of the mantle using foliage in wine glasses flipped upside down and ornaments in cylindrical candle holders. All that you see, except the nut crackers, can be found at the Dollar Tree; however if you are looking for nutcrackers, the Dollar Tree does carry them—just in a smaller version.

Opt For a Box or Bag

The Dollar Tree is probably my favorite place to go when in need of all things holiday. They often have gift bags and boxes sold in sets of two or three for a dollar.

We all know how stressful wrapping presents can be. Especially for those with no wrapping talent, like myself. Don’t fret! Go to the Dollar Tree and buy decorative boxes and holiday bags for all of your wrapping needs! As mentioned before, many of these boxes and bags come in sets but the set depends on how big the box or bag is so keep that in mind.

Remember if these are gifts for your kids, tape them closed well or hide them until you place them under the tree the night before Christmas.

Cookie Dough Rolls

I know I don’t need to say anything more about this, but I will anyway. Your kids want to spend time with you doing fun things. They don’t care if the cookie dough is premade as long as they result in delicious tasting cookies at some point so make it easy on yourself and buy premade dough.

Your kids won’t know the difference and you won’t have to make a mess of your kitchen by making from scratch. It’s a win win!

So there you have it! A guide to help you try to simplify the holidays because no matter how much we look forward to them, a part of us will always dread them a little, too.

Now sit by your television sets awaiting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a new found sense of calm and have a happy Thanksgiving, a merry Christmas, and a joyous New Year! MMMM, eggnog!!!

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