When you think about the holiday season, what comes to mind? Fond memories of special times with family and friends? Good cheer? A spirit we wish could last all year? Sights and sounds anticipated for months?

When the season arrives, what is it like for you? Does the stress of too much to do sap the joy of the holiday season? Do you approach the new year tired and ready for the whole thing to be over?

Decrease your holiday stress with these 5 tactics:

  1. Triage your December calendar now. Remember what happened last year? In early November, a glance ahead to December offered a sigh of relief. “Not too bad,” you said. But then all the opportunities start to appear. December gets crowded and it doesn’t take long. Guess what—this December will be no different. If December is already full, you are headed for trouble. What events can you remove now to give yourself some breathing room?
  2. Buy your gifts months ago (or now). One of my most popular posts talks about buying early in the year. Open a browser and go to bit.ly/frankbuck46 to read about it. The best time to buy presents has been all throughout the year when stores aren’t crowded. Everything you will wind up purchasing will have been on sale at some point. If you haven’t started, the second-best time is now. Waiting means getting caught in long lines and heavy traffic.
  3. Do it now. Your December calendar isn’t the only thing that looks deceptively clear a month out. Your December to-do list likely looks doable. It won’t stay that way. Look at the list of things already planned for December and see what you can tackle now. Batch related items, such as errands. You can accomplish many tasks in a relatively short period of time that way. What online orders do you expect to place? Avoid shipping charges by placing larger orders. More time spent planning means less time in the execution.
  4. Do it later. Not everything needs to happen before we sunset this year. What’s on your list for December that could wait until a week into January? Move those items now. Your plan will look as if December will be a breeze. As new December “must-dos” appear, you’re not trying to pile an already full plate even higher
  5. Delegate now. Not everything needs to be done in December. Furthermore, not everything needs to be done by you. What other family members can share the load? Who can you hire to do the things where you lack expertise, desire, or time. From shopping to cooking to wrapping to decorating, there is someone who can do the task well and do it with a smile. But, it’s important to make your plans without delay. Remember those other people are facing the same holiday time crunch as you. Get on their calendars now.

The song says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” If that’s true for you this year, you can likely thank the planning that started well before the stockings were hung.