Hosting, cooking, or wrapping this holiday season? Then you’re susceptible to the holiday stress that grips the U.S. until the kids go back to school in the New Year. Make yourself more resilient this year so hassles don’t get you down. We tackled the three biggest challenges – shopping, parties, and traditions – and rounded up Zen-inducing tips for those moments when stress hits.

Holiday Shopping

  • Create a gift budget and divide it up so you know exactly how much you’re comfortable spending. Leave a little for stocking stuffers and impulse buys, too.
  • Ask people what they want instead of searching for those rare "perfect" gifts.
  • Use online sites to stay out of the stores.
  • Shop early. A larger, early selection makes it easier to find gifts.

Parties and family feasts

  • If you’re hosting, buy prepared foods instead of cooking everything from scratch.
  • Consider inviting guests to come early and help with preparation – cooking can be part of the fun!
  • Ask others to bring a dish or an appetizer.
  • Cook and freeze foods ahead of time.
  • Extend the season and make plans to visit some friends and family soon after the holidays.
  • Limit your holiday drinking. If you’re not a frequent drinker, tossing back a few eggnogs and a glass of wine in one evening can cause irregular heartbeats, known as “holiday heart syndrome.”
  • Avoid starving yourself in anticipation of eating at holiday parties. This approach can zap energy and actually lead to overeating.


  • Simplify holiday traditions. Discuss with your family which traditions are most important to you and to them. Know that it’s okay to re-evaluate past traditions or replace them with new things. If the family night at the ballet makes your teen cranky and your pocketbook groan, replace it with an evening at the movies followed by a drive to look at lights.
  • Feel the holiday blues coming on? Help someone else. Volunteering restores perspective, and doing good feels good. Really, really sad? Seek professional help if the sadness doesn't lift, or if your feelings are accompanied by sleeplessness or hopelessness.