Tips for stress-free holidays

Buy all your hostess gifts once to save tiome and  cut down on stress during time crunched holidays!The holidays are a time for joy, celebration, and stress. Crowds, shopping, lack of sleep, as well as fractious relatives and cranky party guests, can suck the “happy” right out of your holidays if you aren’t careful. But we have some surefire strategies to keep you smiling all through the festive season.
Do it once
Make a list of all your holiday parties. Then make one trip to buy all your hostess gifts.  Williams and Sonoma and The Body Shop have nice selections of “bread and butter” gifts. So do L’Occitane and most gourmet shops. You will save time and avoid frantic last-minute stops to look for flowers or wine.
While you are shopping, think about any other gifts you still need to buy. This is a great time to get things for people still on your list. Shop once and get it done!
This time of year gift wrapping is included at most shops. Take advantage of the service. If you have opted for wine, pick up the cute little gift wine bags that all the stores stock this time of year.
Shop online and avoid the lines
Shopping online is a great way to comparison shop. It is also allows you to avoid wrapping and mailing gifts, as they can be sent directly to the recipient.
Plan for delays and avoid stress
Everything takes longer during the holidays. Accept it. If you need to run errands assume they will take twice as long as normal. Allow extra travel time – up to an hour for airport trips and 30 minutes for other destinations. Planning for delays avoids disaster.
Backup your backup plan
The holidays can bring out the best and worse in people. Things can be unpredictable. So, to remain stress-free, it is best to have a backup to your backup plan.
Never leave your home without enough cash to get home by cab if you end up stranded. Even reliable friends can go missing during the stressful season, so always have your own way home. If cab fare is too expensive, keep your eye on your ride and the clock, so if you need to get home on public transportation you can. If the party is in an unfamiliar area, check out possible routes home before you go. This might sound overly cautious, but if you need to find your way alone at 2 AM, you will be happy not have to fumble around with your smartphone looking for a bus or subway stop.
These little sponges can save a dress or suit from disasster by quickly removing white marks.
Keep your phone charged. Always have $5 or $10 hidden deep in your bag for emergencies. In the old days they called it “mad money.”
Never put your phone down at large holiday parties. A DolceDolce contributor lost her phone that way last year.
If you are traveling by plane and will need your outfit for a party when you arrive, pack it in a carry-on. This is the season for lost and misplaced luggage.
Dresses get spilled-on at parties and sometimes even torn or burned. Always have a backup party dress. Maybe last year’s outfit should go to the cleaners and be ready, in case you need it.
Assemble an emergency holiday clothes care kit. I swear by Dryel On The Go Instant Stain Remover pen. It doesn’t leave rings around the stain or ruin my silks, and it gets out most stains. If you don’t have a large sewing kit, a small one will do and is essential for fixing falling hems and other damage. I like the ones with pre-threaded needles as I am always making repairs on the run. In a pinch, fix your hem with scotch tape.  MISS OOPS Rescue Sponges are handy to rub off white marks from deodorant and dust from dark clothes. Or, you can use the foam that comes on the top of hangers from drycleaners it will work the same way. This kit will help solve most clothes crisis.
Avoid Conflict
As the title of an old song goes “Just Walk Away, Rene”.   Before you engage in an argument at holiday time, remember that no one ever changes anyone’s mind and no one wins a family fight. I believe in avoiding people who make you truly, deeply unhappy, even if they are family – and especially if they are disrespectful or violent. Ignore the normal disagreements you may encounter at family parties or social gatherings. Walk way, change the subject, and when temporarily trapped, go to your happy place. I am serious, darlings. It took me years to learn this, and I believe my life is so much more relaxing and entertaining.
To keep your blood prreasure down when dealing with difficult people this holiday season:
Remember, you don’t have to answer a question just because some asks you something. If a question is intrusive or offensive, ignore it, laugh it off, or change the subject.
You don’t have to agree or disagree with crazy or hateful people. Ignore them or just politely walk away.
You don’t have to eat or drink things you don’t want. But, it is easier not to make an issue of it. Just take a little of what is offered and then push it around on your plate. Diplomats have done this for years and I wish I had learned to do it years ago too. Now I just quietly eat a quarter of what anyone else puts on my plate. And if it is crème brûlée, I sometimes I eat it all!
Darlings, plan ahead so that holiday tasks don’t stress you out. Resolve to avoid conflict and focus on joy!
Like this story? Tweet it out!