1. Plan of action. A lot of holiday stress comes from leaving too much to the last minute. We underestimate the time it takes to get everything accomplished, and we're left feeling exhausted and frustrated. Make a list and then prioritize (Monday - get Christmas tree, Tuesday - lights on tree and wreaths on doors, Wednesday - fill out Christmas cards, Thursday - decorate tree, Friday - mail cards and shop, etc.) Make a commitment to do just one or two things a day and by the end of the week you'll have accomplished a lot just by consistently chipping away at it.
2. To give or not to give. Buying holiday gifts for everyone often turns into a full-time job. Remember, it truly is the thought that counts. Let loved ones know you're thinking of them with a thoughtful card or some homemade cookies. Don't waste your time or money buying unnecessary gifts for everyone you know. Or, suggest that your family, friends, or co-workers set up a Secret Santa instead of buying gifts for everyone.
3. Recruit help. Don't feel like you have to do everything yourself. Recruit your kids to help with holiday baking and decorating the house. They may not do it exactly as you would have, but they'll love that they took a part in holiday preparations. Ask a friend to help you decorate your tree in exchange for helping her with a holiday project of her own. Or, organize a cookie exchange to get all your holiday goodies taken care of in one shot!
4. Potluck parties. If you host holiday parties think of making it a potluck instead of cooking all the food yourself. If you want, you could even create a menu and have guests sign up for the dish they would like to bring to give them some guidance. A potluck will save you so much time, and your guests will be pleased that they were able to help out!
5. Remember the reason for the season. Lastly, remember that the holidays are about reconnecting with family and friends, reliving traditions, and having fun, festive times! So what if you didn't decorate your home floor-to-ceiling like you did last year...I guarantee no one will know but you! Also, don't feel like you have to attend every holiday party you're invited to. Pick and choose the celebrations you really want to go to and don't worry about trying to make it to the rest.
Happy (stress-less) Holidays!