Coping With Last-Minute Holiday Stress

Coping With Last-Minute Holiday Stress

The holidays are meant to be a time for relaxation and rejuvenation. For spending time with your loved ones and watching huge amounts of television. For eating chocolates and playing board games and cooking delicious meals. They’re meant to be a joyful time when you can recharge your batteries and remind yourself to enjoy life to the full. Unfortunately, however, life often isn’t that simple. Though we know the holidays are meant to be all these things, it’s all too easy to become swept up in the stress of buying presents, writing cards, cooking meals, and trying to make everyone around you happy whilst forgetting your own mental wellbeing.

Especially this year, when so many people are having to make alternative plans, and you might feel overwhelmed with everything around you, last-minute holiday stress can feel insurmountable. However, it’s important to remember that there are things you can do to take care of yourself, whilst still fulfilling all the tasks and duties you feel like you need to accomplish. Coping with the stress of the holidays is about taking a breath, reminding yourself of your priorities, and making space for yourself as well as others.


One of the most rewarding parts of the festive season is undoubtedly the giving of gifts. Seeing those you love unwrapping a present you know they’ll adore is a fantastic feeling. However, it can also be stressful when you don’t know what to give someone, or if you have accidentally forgotten an important person, or if they live too far for you to deliver the gift in person. Gifts for delivery are a great solution here – whether it’s a personalized item, or flowers and chocolate, receiving a present in the post is a great way to let those people know you’re still thinking of them.

Cooking Meals

Delicious meals are a fundamental part of the holiday season across the world, and every tradition will have its own unique dishes. You will be used to seeing huge pictures advertising these meals, alongside all your childhood memories and expectations. When you are the one responsible for preparing the food, the pressure can feel huge. In these cases, don’t be afraid to ask for help! Share the responsibility by asking your family to get involved, and if you have visitors make it a pot-luck affair where everyone brings a portion of the dinner.


Festive decorations are a great way to bring an extra sparkle to your home during the darker months. However, with the advent of social media, there has come pressure to create ever more elaborate displays, and stylish arrangements of lights that your neighbors will envy. The number one way to banish holiday stress is to banish these expectations of yourself. Decorate using hand-made items, or those your kids have made. Sure, they might not look as stylish as the ones down the road, but they’ll make you feel happier.

Keeping Up with Kids

If you have kids, having them home from school for the holidays can be a delight. And yet, how can they possibly have so much energy? Keeping up with the kids can feel like a full-time job on top of all your other holiday preparations. Cope with this by finding ways to occupy them for periods of time that also allow you to relax, such as watching Christmas films or playing their own games. You can even rope them into helping you with various tasks like decorating and cooking by turning them into games!

Writing Cards

As lovely as it is to receive festive cards wishing you well, the business of sending them can literally take days, and it can be incredibly stressful to try and make sure you have individually written, signed, addressed, and posted card by the last date of postage to arrive in time for Christmas day itself. It’s important for you to put this in perspective. What will really happen if your cards arrive a day or two late? Is it the end of the world? If your answer is no – and it almost certainly will be – then give yourself permission to slow down. Writing cards at your own pace will take the pressure off, and it’ll inevitably make your messages more thoughtful.

Time Off Work

In the modern-day, it is becoming increasingly harder and harder to take time off work. It can feel like your job is following you wherever you go, through the email app on your phone, through Whatsapp groups, even through phone calls from your boss on your day off. Your inability to switch off can end up having a huge impact on your holiday, causing stress as you’re not able to fully relax. To help deal with this, it’s time to take drastic action. Temporarily delete your email app from your phone, so you’re not constantly bombarded with notifications, and consider muting all work messaging groups. This will give you valuable respite and enable you to shift your full focus to your holiday plans.

Social Media

When it comes to stress and pressure, there’s nothing quite like social media to exacerbate the problems and make you feel like you’re playing a constant game of catch up. During the festive season, as you see posts of other people seemingly enjoying perfect celebrations, this can hugely ramp up the pressure you put upon yourself. Ignoring this pressure is easier said than done, but you will thank yourself for trying. If deleting apps feels like too much for you, why not give yourself a certain amount of time each day that you’re allowed to spend on social media? That way, you’re limiting chances for comparison whilst increasing the amount of time you’ll be able to spend with your family.

Time For Yourself

As much as time for your family is incredibly important, it’s also vital that you keep a bit of time purely for yourself. Whether this means taking a candlelit bath for an hour or two, retreating to your bedroom to watch your favorite TV show undisturbed, or going for a long solo walk, remember to keep yourself mentally refreshed. By giving yourself this time, you’ll be able to put your full energy into holiday preparations and time with your family without over-stretching yourself.

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Jess Benoit

Jess is a homeschooling mama of 3, wife, gamer, Whovian, Nerd

14 thoughts on “Coping With Last-Minute Holiday Stress

  • Great ideas to ease into a ‘less stress’ holiday season. I appreciate all your tips – especially making time for one’s self.

  • The holidays sure can be stressful, but great at the same time. I try to make them as stress free as possible.

  • Tara Pittman

    Making some time for yourself is very much needed during the holidays. This is something that I will do.

  • Oh yes, holiday stress is a thing. I make sure to relax. And if need be, pig out on Christmas cookies. It helps.

  • I appreciate the encouragement to embrace a more relaxed approach to decorations and not succumb to the pressures of perfection.

  • Good tips! I try to do some cooking in advance to cut down on the last minute chaos.

  • Keeping up with kids used to be huge stressors for me the closer Christmas came but doing stuff like starting my Christmas shopping early in the year/throughout the year and wrapping as I go so there’d be less to do closer to the season did help cut down on some of that stress as I had less to do when I had a lot of them to keep up with during breaks!

  • Your article on managing last-minute holiday stress is insightful. The practical tips offer a helpful guide for readers. Incorporating personal anecdotes or examples could enhance relatability.

  • Vidya Tiru

    thanks for these tips.. holidays are fun but we definitely need to ensure we don’t stress away all that fun..

  • Coping with last-minute holiday stress can be a challenge, but taking deep breaths, staying organized, and focusing on the joy of the season can help make it more manageable.

  • Catalina

    Thank you for sharing these stress-busting tips for the holidays! It’s reassuring to know that others also feel the pressure of the last-minute rush.

  • Giving time for yourself to rest and recharge is a much needed during and after holiday stress.

  • The holidays can be so stressful. I know that I started shopping November because I knew I had to budget everything carefully. I have almost finished up the Christmas shopping. I still have to get a few more stocking stuffers and one gift.


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