Tricks for a Stress-Free Holiday Season

The holidays can be stressful! Relax!

The holidays can be a wonderful time of the year, full of activity and excitement. However, it's easy to get overwhelmed by it, too. Instead of worrying how you'll get it all done, follow these six tips for a stress-free season.

1. Shop early. Whether it's groceries for a special meal or a casual Friday night dinner at home with the family, gifts for your in-laws or toys for a charitable cause, the earlier you start, the less pressured you'll feel to meet a deadline. Stores are busier than usual and you can expect long lines just about anywhere. Avoid that by shopping early in the season…and early in the day.

I find the best time to buy groceries is around 8 a.m. - the bakery's got the freshest bread, there's no line at the deli, and produce has all been restocked. Get your purchases made when stores are opening and you won't have to fight crowds or dig through messy displays to find what you need. Avoid shopping for clothes, toys and any other gifts on the weekend if you can. Shop after work when everyone else is eating dinner for shorter lines at department stores.

2. Don't try to out-decorate the neighbors. It's highly unlikely your home will miss out on a huge prize if your halls are not decked from baseboards to roof tiles. Decide what your favorite holiday decoration is and focus on that. Find a wreath you absolutely love, go to town on your tree, light up your house if you like… but there's no need to do it all.

3. Embrace silence. It's easy to feel overwhelmed when everywhere you look, there's lights, crowds and music. Try tuning all of that out. Turn off the radio, television, cell phone and computer for a night of back-to-basics, unplugged simplicity. My favorite way to de-stress is to grab a book. If it's something I've been dying to read, I set it aside as a reward to myself for keeping myself on track.

4. Limit the number of gifts you buy. Reach out to friends and coworkers ahead of time and let them know you're scaling back this year. The people who love you the most aren't interested in what you give them, anyhow; what's important to them is you. Schedule time with the people closest to you and enrich your relationship in meaningful ways. Bonus: smiles are stress-relievers and you're bound to do a lot of it if you're with people you really enjoy.

5. Take advantage of free shipping deals and coupon codes on the internet. You'd be surprised how much time and money you can save when shopping online by typing in those little codes when checking out - and you don't even have to hunt for a parking space. You'll find codes on the main pages of many of your favorite websites if you look closely. If you type "coupon codes" in your favorite search engine, you'll get lots of results that way, too. Also, don't overlook a company or product's Facebook page, where coupon codes and other discounts are often posted.

6. Don't overbook yourself. Decide which events mean the most to you personally and professionally. Select one or two of each and make them the priority during the holiday season. Everything else just heaps additional stress on you and makes it that much harder to stay balanced. As always, be or use a designated driver when celebrating this holiday season. Read about the Anheuser-Busch pledge to drink responsibly.

Content by Kimberly Morgan.