Do you ever feel that as we get older the holidays get less wondrous and more stressful? All those lovely treats and surprises that appeared by magic when you were a child are a little overwhelming when you are Santa, Mrs. Claus and all the elves. Here are a few tips to leave the stress behind and make the holidays as delightful as they used to be

1. PLAY YOUR CARDS RIGHT

Writing holiday cards is one of the first tasks to start (and sometimes the last to finish!) If you love staying in touch in this fashion, there’s a simple way to beat Christmas-card stress. Shift this activity to another holiday. Thanksgiving is a great option, as is Valentine’s Day. The added benefit is that your message isn’t lost in the recipients’ flood of cards.

2. LISTS ELIMINATE THE GUESSWORK

Figuring out the perfect gift can be difficult, especially if you and your giftee live far apart or belong to different generations. Create a gift list—written (or emailed), saved to an online retailer, or even posted to Pinterest. [Be advised: Pinterest can be dangerous. See #6.] Ask them to include information on where the item is available. And do the same favor for those who want to give you a present.

3. TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER

If someone you ask for a list responds, “No presents, please,” listen! There are many reasons to request no gifts: a lack of space, the desire to pare down and live a minimalist life or they stopped collecting those figurines of bathing clowns a few years ago. If you absolutely must get them something, make it a meal out, a night at the theater, pedicure or some other experience. If they live far away, send a gift card for a similar experience. But you can also consider their “No presents” a gift from them to you and enjoy that extra time.

4. THE GIFT OF TIME

Once your shopping list is complete, take a moment to research online. Most search engines display a bar graph that shows how busy it’s likely to be over the hours of business, and a drop-down menu lets you explore other days as well. Choose the least crowded time and enjoy your shopping trip!

 5. HOME FREE

There are so many tasks to occupy your time at home during the holidays, how about taking slogging through your inbox off the list? We’re not suggesting you ignore email entirely, just edit out all those subscriptions you signed up for to get a one-time discount, and other unwanted emails. Unroll.me is a free app that helps you sort through those in no time and roll other accounts you do want to see occasionally into one email. Anything you’d like to keep in your inbox is your decision.

6. PINTEREST HAS A BOARD FOR EVERYTHING—BUT ESCAPING PINTEREST

Stay away from craft idea postings. As this blogger can tell you, the craft rabbit hole is hard to escape, and unless you can beat Martha You-Know-Who in a crafting throw-down, no project is as quick and easy as they say. If you didn’t start it by September, you’re probably too late.

7. DECK ONE HALL

There’s no law that you have to chop down the highest pine in the valley and drag it home or bring your faux tree down from the attic if it’s a year when your energy is in short supply. Simple decorations can create a beautiful look, too.  A large, clear vase can be a lovely showcase for a grouping of ornaments in one or two colors. A miniature houseplant-sized pine from the grocery store can be cute and whimsical decorated with adorable holiday earrings with shepherd hooks. Use your imagination and what’s close at hand!

8. BREAKING NEWS: REST IS KEY

Once the groundwork has been laid, it’s time to take a break and do something for yourself. Invite a friend or two for tea at a fancy hotel or tearoom, take in a movie at home or a theater, get a massage or soak in a hot bath with your favorite scented bath fizzies. Whatever makes you feel truly relaxed is the right choice.

Pink is a great color for women with darker skin tones.

9. EXPECT LESS, ENJOY MORE

Expectations of perfection can suck some of the joy out of hosting a festive meal. Scaling things back can be just as fun. Serve dishes bought from deli, grocery or restaurant and heated up. You can make those special gotta-have-homemade-or-it’s-not-Christmas foods a day early, then heat them. And if your guests arrive to the smell of baking cookies from a scented candle while you offer bakery-bought cookies, we promise not to tell!

10. SAVOR TINY MOMENTS

When you are in the midst of holiday tasks, savor little moments of the season. Pause your decorating to recall the family history of a favorite ornament or sit for a few moments to read the cards you’ve received. This blogger’s personal favorite is pausing the music or TV while cooking the cranberries, enjoying each tiny satisfying pop! as the berries break open.

woman relaxing on the couch in barefeet

11. FIND YOUR PERFECT HOLIDAY MUSIC

It’s difficult to find someone who hasn’t recorded a holiday album, so it’s likely you’ll find one (or more) from your favorite performer. If you’re looking for something beautiful and calming, a personal favorite is Simply Christmas by Leslie Odom, Jr. (the original Aaron Burr in Broadway’s Hamilton). His voice is evocative and soothing, a balm for jangled spirits.

12. USE CREDIT WISELY

It’s easy to overspend during the holidays when the urge is to fulfill every wish of the people we love. Before the shopping (online or in stores) begins, set a budget and vow to stick to it, no matter how tempting the deal. A tip: When you shop at Midnight Velvet for gifts, use your Midnight Velvet Credit instead of a major credit card. You’ll breathe easier post-holidays, knowing the exact amount of your monthly Midnight Velvet bill, which makes it much easier to budget. Buying with Midnight Velvet Credit is easy—just place your order by phone or online and ask for credit.

All of us at Midnight Velvet hope you find some or all of these suggestions useful. And we wish you a blessed, joyful and stress-free holiday season.