How to Make the Holidays Less Stressful, Less Expensive, and More Enjoyable!

How to Make the Holidays Less Stressful, Less Expensive, and More Enjoyable!


Since we are on the cusp of the holiday season I thought I would share some mom hacks/tips/insider secrets for making the holidays less stressful so you can focus on the more meaningful parts of the holiday (which is what it’s all about, right?!). Plus, a few Saturday sales.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years as well as a few tips for shopping the best gifts and deals. And I’m not putting “Shop online” because I think everyone knows that’s the best way to go these days!

1. Plan holiday outings – Carriage rides, The Nutcracker, Christmas Teas, in Dallas there is so much to do during the holidays! (See this post for our Dallas favorites) But it’s tempting to go overboard with the holiday fun. So we choose one or two fun holiday outings and book those now. You might get a deal for booking early. Either way, booking now means less money you have to spend in the expensive month of December. Plus, having things on your calendar helps the temptation to overcommit.

2. Have Your Children Make Their Wish List Now – While it’s fun to take letters to Santa to the Macy’s special mailbox that last week before Christmas, it is NOT fun to realize that nothing you bought so far mentioned in their letters;). So have them write their letters now so (hopefully) you can buy what they want on sale during Cyber Week, or at least get those items checked off your list early. You will also have ideas on hand when grandparents/aunts/uncles text asking for ideas. Oh and tell them once they mail it Santa they can’t change their minds. Santa doesn’t have email;).

3. Decide on a gifting plan – Talk to in-laws and decide if y’all are exchanging gifts or doing a Secret Santa Also, determine out how much you wan to gift your children. A few ideas/traditions that friends use:

  • Give your children three gifts to represent the three gifts that the Wise men gave baby Jesus
  • Give them something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.
  • Give a few meaningful, lasting gifts under the tree and fill up their stockings with the little junky toys.

4. Shop Early – If you’ve done #2, this will be easy. Not only will it free up more time in December, but often the year’s hot toys and popular items are difficult to find after Black Friday. Oh and I’ve learned from years past: buy your matching holiday pajamas earlier than later. They tend to sell out. I just got some from Smocked Auctions (I like that they have big kid sizes which is nice).

5. Keep a running list of gifts you start buying – Keep a running list on my phone’s Notes app of gifts that I buy so I don’t overbuy or duplicate. (There are a ton of gift list apps out there but I just don’t need another app to remember!).

6. {Try to} Budget – Honestly, though, does anyone actually keep their holiday budget!? It’s hard because there are always things that pop up last minute. So if you do a budget make sure to leave some wiggle room. A few things to help:

  • Consider putting aside $25/$50/$100 in an envelope every week until December so you have a stash of cash for those last minute gifts, random coach and teacher group gifts, and requests for charitable donations from friends and school.
  • My mom always kept a gallon size Ziploc bag for her holiday receipts in her top kitchen desk drawer so she could easily add up how much she spent at any time and also it made for easy returns after Christmas.
  • When I don’t see the gifts on a regular basis I forget about them and buy again. That’s why #5 is helpful. You might also add in your NOTES app where you hide the gifts;).

7. Download money-saving browser apps – Speaking of saving money, Honey will send you a message when you are in a store’s checkout page and give you codes it found on the web – genius! When you are looking at a product online, Invisible Hand will send you a notification that there is a better deal somewhere else. Stores are constantly changing their deals during the holidays so this is a great way to keep up to date. SlickDeals will alert you when an item you want is on sale.

8. Follow your favorite local stores online – I do so much shopping on Instagram from random cute children’s and specialty stores I follow on Instagram. (Mayfair on the Square in Oxford, MS is one!). It’s kind of dangerous really to just type “Want” under a cute item and get it, but it’s so easy to get the items you want without having to put one more thing on your errand list. The store will send you an invoice you can pay with your cc online and then will ship it to you. They might even offer free local delivery or curbside service during the holidays. Many offer Instagram only deals so it’s worth the follow. And it’s a great way to support small businesses!

10. Bookmark DoSayGive’s Holiday Gift Guide for the BEST gifts, holiday sales, and special traditions. Ask any longtime DoSayGive reader and they will tell you that DoSayGive has the most thorough, well-researched, and unique gift guides on the web. And for everyone on your list. Children, Clients, Teachers, Neighbors, etc. Plus, huge sale guides during Cyber Week.

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2 thoughts on “How to Make the Holidays Less Stressful, Less Expensive, and More Enjoyable!

  1. Lots of great ideas here! Last year I used a big zip lock bag as well for my receipts, and it is such a simple idea, but so practical and easy when something has to be returned. Excited to see your gift guides so I can get going! Also- do you have your sweater linked anywhere on your site? Thanks!