Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, the holiday season is upon us along with all the stress, rushing, shopping and entertaining that comes with it. Here are a few tips that I shared on the Tucson Morning Blend for keeping the craziness from SQUASHING your holiday spirit.

BUDGET: The most important thing is to make a realistic budget and stick to it. First, decide what you can realistically spend overall this year. Then, decide as best you can what you’ll be spending for each person. Add about 20% to the overall to account for gift wrap, stocking stuffers, candy and whatnots you know you’re going to pick up along the way. (video link)

90% OF PURCHASES ARE EMOTIONAL and/or SUBCONCSIOUS. Meaning, we mostly shop by impulse – hunger, guilt or for the quick dose of oxytocin that a purchase gives us (there will be an entire blog on this in the future). RETAILERS KNOW THIS and now, so do you! Be aware of your impulses. You do not have to bankrupt yourself in order to give your kids a great holiday!

TIME: Also, budget your time. Mark your calendar with all the big stuff but add the little stuff too. For example, when things are hectic it’s the little stuff – like grocery shopping – that gets you. So, add specific gift shopping times to your calendar AND grocery shopping and errands, so you can avoid last minute scrambling with all the other last-minute scramblers on the roads and in the stores. Make lists. Even if you don’t use them, writing them down will help organize your thoughts. (video link)

OOPS! GIFTS: Plan ahead for the friend or person at work who unexpectedly got you something by having a few extra gifts on hand. Avoid cluttery, scented, high calorie and gender-specific gifts, like candles, knick knacks and toiletries. Get creative with gift cards from locally owned businesses and activity gifts, like movie tickets, sporting events, theater, a painting and wine night… you get my drift, I’m sure. (video link)

ENTERTAINING: Whether you’re hosting a meal, entertaining drop-ins or throwing something together for the company pot luck – keep it simple. Google “5 minute appetizers” and “Crock Pot for potlucks,” have a few clever things in the freezer and pantry, just in case, and when hosting, remember that a few great dishes are easier to make than a zillion mediocre ones. Your friends and family want to enjoy your company, not watch you stress out in the kitchen.

SELF-CARE: While life is hectic, it’s even more important to take care of ourselves. Eat right. Sleep. Remember to exercise, at least a little. Keep healthy snacks handy for on-the-go days. Use that Crock Pot for easy, make-ahead dinners and make one huge salad to last a week. Exercise, sleep, drive safely and, when in doubt, use Uber or Lyft.

So, honor your budget, manage your time, be grateful for what you already have, choose happiness over perfection and enjoy the holiday season.

Let the fun begin! Jennifer.

Jennifer Phelps:

Organize. Design. Reinvent!