The Holidays are here. (I hope you already knew that.) With the “most wonderful time of the year” comes a lot of headaches. However, making powerful plays to keep things simple can really create a fantastic holiday. Follow these tips to keep your season full of cheer and devoid of stress.

Delegate

You are not Santa Claus. No matter what level superman/woman you are, the holidays cannot hinge on one person. It is the season of giving, but that doesn’t mean you should give everything you have and not be able to enjoy yourself. It’s important to receive too. A close friend and I always divide our lists between each other based on what stores are closest to our house. Our lists are specific so we always get the right thing. Commuting across town adds hours to your errands. By dividing our lists we really help each other out. You can also save time by having things shipped directly to you or your workplace. Personal shopping and grocery delivery become increasingly popular in the holiday season and can take care of your to-do list.

Ask for help with your festivities as well. If you are hosting a large group of people then divide up the dishes. If you let a family bring their own dish then you know everyone will enjoy at least one component of the meal. Besides, many families end-up with a stockpile of seasonal sweets and would be glad to get rid of them.

Plan Accordingly

You cannot be too prepared. Make it a goal to have your holiday shopping completed by December 1st. Waiting until later will mean you miss out on some great deals and may not be able to find exactly what you need. If you have guests coming then preparing your house for the holidays should start even earlier. We’ve all heard of Spring Cleaning – just think of this as your winter clean and really do a thorough job. The cold weather will push everyone indoors so there is no better time to have a neat household. If you are responsible for a big meal or signature dish then have a practice run ahead of time. Growing-up my family always had “Practice Christmas.” My mother would make the dish that she was worried about and my brother and I would have to use our “best manners.” You can’t ensure that all festivities will run smoothly, but planning will certainly help.

Get Over Gifts

The holidays should be focused on celebrating life and wonderful relationships. It is customary to give someone a gift to show your appreciation for his or her role in your life. However, this thoughtful idea has quickly morphed into an expensive obligation. Many of your relationships no longer need the consummation of a gift. My best friend and I haven’t exchanged gifts in years – we just go out for lunch and trade checks. You could have your family switch to a system where everyone draws names and gifts one person instead of everyone. Some families skip the expensive stuff all together and do a white elephant gift exchange. This saves everyone money and makes getting the worst present a victory. It’s also a hilarious and fun bonding experience.

Breathe Deep. Happy Holidays!