Holiday Hacks in Austin

Everyone loves the holidays – except when they stress us out! From travel to throwing parties to last-minute gift-giving, the holidays can be a time of joy, or they can be a source of frustration.

Here are some easy and fun ways to tip the balance in favor of “joy” and get through the holidays with your sanity intact.

Holiday Travels: In With Adventure, Out With Aggravation

Whether you’re planning an international flight or just trying to drive to the store, here are some ways to reduce your stress – and get where you’re going safely.

holiday1Plan ahead. A significant number of Texas car accidents that take place during the holidays involve drivers who are rushed, distracted or consumed with road rage befitting Ebenezer Scrooge. All three situations are more likely if you’re pressed for time. Assume that the roads will be busier, that parking will be tight and that the weather will refuse to cooperate – and plan accordingly.

holiday2Keep the little ones busy. Prevent endless rounds of “Are we there yet?” by bringing along quiet, travel-friendly activities for the kids. Music players, portable DVD players with headphones and quiet “car games” will help keep your young passengers busy, so you can focus on safer traveling.

holiday3Check your car. If you’re driving to your holiday destination, look over your vehicle a few days before you go. Check the tire pressure, oil, washer fluid, windshield wipers and all lights. Ice and snow can impede holiday travel even in Texas. Make sure you are prepared for wintry weather by checking the tread on your tires. If the weather outside is frightening, consider delaying your trip. If you must go, leave extra time to get to your destination. Remember to pack an emergency kit in your vehicle, just in case!

Happy Holiday Party Tips

Don’t let a fun chance to relax and socialize turn into a disaster. Here are a few tips for throwing happier and safer holiday parties:

holiday4Hold your liquor (and wine, beer and other spirits). Make it easy for guests to choose not to drink and drive. Keep plenty of non-alcoholic beverages on hand, and plan to stop serving alcohol a few hours before the party ends (this is a great time to serve coffee and dessert!). Post the phone numbers of local cab companies beside your phone, so you can always call a sober ride for someone who should not drive. Don’t serve alcohol to minors.

holiday5Keep your home both festive and safe. If you have burned-out lights, fix them, especially on walkways or stairs. Check for other potential hazards, like loose carpet, and fix them before guests come over. Use only fire-resistant holiday decorations, and never leave burning candles, fireplaces or other open flames unattended.

Make Gift-Giving As Fun as Gift-Getting

Who doesn’t love getting holiday gifts? Make sure the gifts you give are as fun and memorable as the gifts you receive with these ideas:

holiday6Shop strategically. One of the best ways to reduce both holiday stress and your risk of accidents is to shop when most people are occupied with work, school or other obligations. Shopping online gives you complete control of the schedule and lets you browse in the comfort of your own home – and compare prices before you commit!

holiday7Make a plan. If you’re doing your shopping in local stores, decide where you’re going and what you’re buying when you get there. Give yourself ample time so you don’t get over-stressed by long lines, and stick to the plan to avoid spending extra money.

holiday8Not all gifts are created equal. When buying gifts, look for signs of quality construction. Make sure gifts for kids are age-appropriate, are sturdy enough not to break or lose small parts, and are made of flame-retardant or flame-resistant materials.

holiday9Wrap smart. When you have many gifts to wrap, it’s often less stressful to wrap them in “batches” over several days than to wrap the entire pile at once. Start with the gifts for members of your own family, so curious kids won’t accidentally find their presents stashed in your closet or the attic. Then, wrap according to timeframe: the gifts you’ll hand out first should be wrapped first. Consider using gift bags or boxes to cut down on gift-wrapping stress, or have gifts wrapped when you buy them.

Keep Holiday Stress at Bay

No matter your holiday plans, you can start now to reduce stress and enjoy the end of the year more fully. Here’s how:

holiday10Tackle work thoughtfully. Are there any end-of-year tasks you can find time to start or complete now? Do it! You’ll free up time to fully enjoy your holidays, instead of worrying about work as you’re shopping for gifts and baking holiday treats.

holiday11Learn to say no. Just because you can attend endless holiday events doesn’t mean you must. Choose your holiday commitments carefully, focusing on the ones that mean the most to you and your family. Saying “thank you, but not this year” lets you carve out valuable space for rest and peacefulness during this busy season.

holiday12Make “setting up” a tradition. Instead of thinking of tasks like buying gifts, cooking dinner or setting up a tree as “preparation” for the “big event,” start thinking of them as holiday traditions in their own right. Get your family involved in these traditions and make special time for them. You’ll build great memories and let yourself enjoy all of the holiday season instead of merely a few hours of it.

Poll Question:

What is your favorite way to relax during the holidays?

Visiting friends and family.
Watching classic holiday movies.
Eggnog and cookies!
Baking goodies.
Taking a long winters nap.
On a tropical island (even if only in my dreams).