Can you believe its almost Christmas time?  

Time for the snuggly sweaters and hot cups of tea by the fire (if you live somewhere other than Arizona I suppose...).  But it also means stress, chaos and family time.  So how do you survive the holidays?

Well you could do as we have done for the past several years - don't go.  We realized early in our marriage that going back home (midwest) for Thanksgiving AND Christmas was a lot in a short amount of time so we picked one holiday to spend with family and the other we spend...well with ourselves.  But let's pretend that isn't an option for you.

So first up - stress.  This clearly plays into many other aspects of the season but we'll tackle it up front and by itself.  First, identify what is causing the stress.  Then before you get stressed (it's hard I know!), write down a few things you can do to help relieve it and then most important - DO THEM!

Is it the fact you're hosting dinner and cooking for that many people is just a little overwhelming?  Delegate responsibility for people to bring a dish.  Or even consider catering.  Not an option?  Review your menu and see what you can make ahead of time and just reheat the day of.  I actually start cooking a day or two in advance and get things as far as I can without fully finishing up - there are plenty of recipes that are designed for just that.

Is your stress about presents?  Being financially tight?  It may be a little late for it this year, but consider something like Digit to help you save money throughout the year.  When Dec rolls around you'll have a nice little present egg and money worries will be the last thing to worry about.  If the stress is about WHAT to buy - ask people to create an Amazon wish list.  You can add items from other sites (just include the link & pertinent info like sizes) and then its easy peasy to check people's lists for what they want.  Also, save a page in your planner (I LOVE my LimeLife planner) and just jot notes down throughout the year on things you hear people say they want.  If my husband comments on something, I'll either make a note or go find it on Amazon (if appropriate) and save it to a private list.

Maybe it's where you're going to cram 6 additional people in your 2 bedroom home?  Consider renting an airbnb that is nearby for your group.  Takes the pressure off you and let's the family have a little more space to breath.  Consider the cost an investment in your sanity - or if your family is understanding, have them chip in a small portion.  If that isn't an option and everyone is stuck with you, get out of the house!  Even if its only for an hour or two, schedule something while everyone is there so that you can at least get out to breath without people tagging along.  Some people might think this is a bad plan host plan but really, you need a little me time.

A few in general tips -

Take up meditation for a week or two - close your bedroom door (maybe block it too!) and just sit quietly for 10-15 minutes to get your calm back

Go to an extra fitness class or two.  Not only will you get away for the chaos but you'll burn some extra pre-Christmas dinner calories

Schedule a massage.  Taking an hour or two for yourself is not going to leave your Christmas event falling flat - delegate if necessary or just let it go.  The important thing is that you're together, not that everything is 100% perfect.

Go for a walk.  This can be a good solo or group activity.  Again, just getting out of the house can help and it can be a good small group bonding time.

Shopping is probably going to lead to increased stress so I'd suggest trying to avoid it as much as possible.

What are you favorite tips for surviving the holidays with or without family?  Sound off in the comments below and don't forget to share!