4 Ways to Keep Anxiety Out of Your Holiday Planning

Shandra Martinez

| 3 min read

Family gathered around a table
Holidays can be such wonderful times filled with family, friends and great meals. But all the gift-giving, get-togethers and celebrations start with a lot of planning. There are presents to pick out, food to shop for, and everyone’s schedules to align as you map out the festivities.
This year, people have the added twist of making their holiday plans amid the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing guidelines – and how some relatives might feel about those – are a new issue to wade through for a lot of families. This can take the seasonal stress some people feel around the holidays and ratchet it up a notch or two.
But there are some simple ways to keep anxiety at bay while you’re doing your holiday planning. And they all start with you.

Decide What Level of Closeness You Are Comfortable With

In this era of COVID-19, holiday celebrations will be different for many people compared to a year ago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said large in-person gatherings, crowded parties and travel to other areas are all activities that put people at greater risk for contracting and spreading the virus. These include holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Diwali, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s. What poses the lowest risk? Celebrating with members of your own household, or virtually by hosting holiday video chats with friends and relatives.
Once you decide what level of celebration you are comfortable with, let your family members know in advance so there won’t be any last-minute surprises in holiday planning.

Plan Ahead

One sure way to lighten your holiday workload is to plan in advance. Meal plans can be drawn up a month ahead of time. Non-perishable items can be stocked in your pantry or cupboards weeks before the holiday. This saves you from having to undertake a marathon shopping trip – or running up a giant grocery bill – right before the holiday. Ditto for gifts. Presents can be ordered online or picked up at local stores weeks before the celebration. Set aside an area or closet space to keep the wrapped gifts.


A good planner is someone who knows how to delegate. Being able to share planning tasks with others can go a long way toward lessening any stress you might associate with holiday preparations. Adults and older teens can share grocery and gift shopping tasks. Younger children can help with prep work as the holiday draws closer. They can put stamps on holiday cards, make name cards for people’s places at the dining room table, and help with cleaning and decorating. Giving children specific tasks will make them feel more a part of the celebration.

Sleep and Exercise

Paying attention to how much sleep you are getting and how well you are eating might take a backseat during holiday planning, but it shouldn’t. You don’t want to limp to the holiday finish line, exhausted and not able to enjoy what all your hard work has created. Make sure to balance your planning with these things to ensure you’re treating yourself kindly: 
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Don’t skip meals
  • Make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits, vegetables and lean protein
  • Make time for exercise each day, even if it’s just a walk in your neighborhood
Photo credit: August de Richelieu from Pexels

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