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Mangage Your Holiday Stress

Tips for Surviving Holiday Stress Between November and January

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Holiday stress can be overwhelming, especially for new single parents. It's a time of year when your emotions run high and your schedule is busier than ever.  Use the following tips to help you go beyond just "surviving" to actually finding new ways to avoid holiday stress and make the season more enjoyable for your whole family.

1. Redefine the Holidays

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Who defines the traditions you choose to follow? Ask yourself what would really make your holidays enjoyable, and simply let go of the things that have little or no meaning for you. This is a huge way to beat holiday stress and make this time of year more meaningful and pleasant.

2. Negotiate a Better Holiday Visitation Schedule

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Another aspect of the season that contributes to holiday stress is working out a schedule that suits both your family and your ex's family.  When it seems that everyone wants a piece of the kids' time, planning ahead and being willing to negotiate can go a long way toward reducing stress and conflict for everyone involved.

3. Prepare a Holiday Spending Budget

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There's nothing worse than feeling like you have no option but to overspend and shop on credit just because gift-giving is the thing to do during the holidays. Instead of getting caught up in the nonsense and creating even more holiday stress, consider how much money you really have available to spend on holiday shopping.  Then, intentionally plan your gift-giving goals to fit within that budget.

4. Make a List of the Gifts You Plan to Buy

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Actually writing down your gift list is an important step. Our free printable holiday planning worksheet will help you make a thorough list of all the gifts you plan to give. In addition, there are spaces for writing down where you stash each item and whether it needs to be wrapped or mailed.

5. Help the Kids Make Their Wish Lists

An online wish list can help you communicate your kids' holiday wishes.
Image courtesy of www.christmaswishlist.com.
Since you probably have a good idea of what you'd like the kids to receive for Christmas, why not set up an online wish list to make shopping easier on your whole family? This way, you can steer anyone who might want to buy your kids a gift this season toward something truly useful and perhaps even save yourself an extra expense or two down the road.

6. Plan to Make Gifts This Year

Photo courtesy of Sherri Osborn, licensed to About.com
You can save quite a bit of money by making thoughtful gifts which hold more meaning than anything you can buy at the store. In addition to saving a few dollars, you'll be building great memories with your kids and teaching them that thoughtful gifts don't have to cost a lot of money.

7. Mail Your Gifts on Time

Mail your holiday gifts on time.
© Getty Images / C Squared Studios

Beat holiday stress by planning ahead and mailing your gifts by mid-December.  This way, they'll be sure to arrive before Christmas Eve without your having to pay extra for overnight or two-day shipping. Also, consider decorating the box with stickers and including some balloons and confetti inside so that it's extra fun to open!

8. If You Like to Bake...Bake!

Christmas cookies can be a wonderful part of your family's holiday celebration.
© Getty Images / Oksana Struk
If baking is something you love to do at the holidays, then check out these great recipes. Start early and freeze a batch or two or your favorite cookies. That way, you'll always have something on hand for those last-minute invitations.

9. Plan a Special Holiday Breakfast

© 2006, Jennifer Wolf, licensed to About.com, Inc.
You probably want the morning of your holiday to be just as special as the rest of the day. Try these delicious make-ahead breakfasts.

10. Make the Holiday Dinner Fun

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How do you make the holiday meal special when it's just you and the kids? Consider what would make the event memorable for each of you. Would it be fun to serve appetizers? How about playing some games with the kids between dinner and dessert?  Beat holiday stress by doing what you enjoy and appreciating these special moments together.

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