Pre-Holiday Prep Makes the Holidays Less Stressful

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The holidays are just around the corner, and they are the perfect opportunity to reconnect with the special people in our lives. However, without necessary precaution, this time of year can spiral out into a stressful season of overbooked schedules and excess spending. Who wants to celebrate a season like that?! Not me– and I’d bet not you either.

Today I wanted to share some of the infinite wisdom etiquette expert, Diane Gottsman shares about managing your holiday gifting. I especially love tip number three “think beyond material gifts”! I have started advocating for more “experience” type of gifts within my own family and it has been a hit! 

1. Make a Gift List

Whether you want to use an app, or pen and paper, sit down (with your partner when appropriate) and make sure you are on the same page. By planning ahead, you can start watching for sales and special promotions. It will also relieve some stress knowing who is on the holiday gift list. Use this as an opportunity to cut back on those who are no longer a priority on your holiday gift list.


2. Decide How Much You Will Spend 

Organize your list into categories: friends, family, clients, neighbors, teachers and unexpected drop-ins. Put a dollar amount next to each person on the list and stick to it. If you find a fabulous sale item and spend less, consider it a win-win. Should there be an unexpected “drop in,” have a small gift ready with a gift tag attached. Factor a couple of random gift items into your holiday budget for a “just in case” situation. Don’t forget to take advantage of store coupons which will potentially save you a great deal of holiday cash.


3. Think Beyond Material Gifts

Your grandmother probably would appreciate the gift of your time much more than another bottle of scented hand cream. Plan a visit and take her out to lunch, or bring a basket with her favorite foods to share. Spend quality time with people you love and emphasize memories over gifts. Let everyone know you plan to change up your gift giving habits this year and encourage others to do the same. And if you’re looking for some more ideas, we shared 10 here!


4. Gift the Kids

It’s easy to cut back on adults but the holiday is a magical time of year for young children. Send out an email and say, “John and I are taking a different gift-giving route this year and hope you might consider doing the same. We all have so much, and the best present of all is sharing time with family and friends. We will be gifting the children but making a donation in the adult’s name. Please join us by doing the same.” The same strategy can be used between friends.

If you don’t know what to give the kids, make a call to the parents and ask them for a little direction. You don’t want to buy something that will sit in the closet or get re-gifted at the next birthday party.

You can also grab our gift idea cheatsheet to have your loved ones fill out– and do one for yourself too!


5. Re-purpose Cautiously

You may have some beautiful items already sitting in your closet, but if you re-gift them to the same person that gave them to you last year, it will cause holiday havoc. It’s much safer to give the gift away in a non-holiday format and tell the receiver the truth. Say, “Susan, I received this cologne for my birthday and gardenia is not my favorite scent.  I know you love it and I would like for you to enjoy it. I’ve been saving it for you.”


6. Avoid Pressure Gifting

There is no need to feel uncomfortable if someone drops by with a present and you don’t have one in return. Buy a few modestly priced gifts and have them ready in the event you are caught off guard. Place them in a pretty wicker basket and have them ready to go. Make sure the item is something anyone will enjoy. I purchased a few beautiful tins of cookies at my local grocer, and the box is part of the gift. Or, stock up on scented kitchen soap or a specialty olive oil.


With some thought and planning, you will be ready to tackle this year’s holiday gift list with joy and enthusiasm.

Looking for more ways to be intentional about gift-giving? Grab our FREE guide below!

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  1. Kasia

    This is cool. I need to re-organize some stuff in my apt.

  2. Mercy (Zen Maud)

    Great tips!

  3. Bhuboy

    You’re early preparation removes stress in the future

  4. Seana Turner

    I generally agree with giving gifts beyond material things. Or, at least consider consumables, like food. This year is tough, because many things are closed or limited, and we can’t freely travel or even spend time with loved ones in person. This is the year to be very thoughtful about what people actually want. Great to be thinking about all of this now!

  5. Linda Samuels

    All of your gift-giving suggestions are great. And while “things” can be lovely, we often prefer giving time-related or experiences-related gifts instead. I agree with Seana that this season presents a bit more of a challenge due to social distancing, COVID restrictions, and closures of fun places to go. But perhaps that will make us even more creative when considering how to gift time. It’s good to start thinking about it now.

  6. Diane N Quintana

    Melissa, I love this list. In particular, I like the idea of stocking up on a few gifts, wrapping them and having them available to give drop-ins during the holidays. I am absolutely going to adopt this practice. It makes such good sense! I’m also a fan of experience gifts – movies, theatre are tops on my list and am hoping that these are things we will all get to enjoy again in 2021.

  7. Elizabeth Justiz

    This is PERFECTION! So many great reminders to make our holiday season more sane! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Melanie Summers

    Excellent suggestions! I’ve had the most fun making gifts for people over the years. Bath bombs are super fun, easy, and inexpensive. I don’t do the DIY thing every year but it works well when I’m on a budget.

  9. Liana George

    Such helpful ideas! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I think I love the tip about pressure gifting the most. So often we make life more difficult for ourselves because we feel obligated to equally return the offering. I like your suggestion to have small gifts on hand but I think it’s also important to remember that we don’t always have to gift in return. Sometimes accepting a gift with no strings attached is a thank you enough for the person giving the gift!

    • Melissa Rogers

      Liana, I absolutely agree! When we start thinking that gifting is something that must be done in reciprocation, we change the idea and intention completely!


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