Tips for a guilt-free Holiday Season

by Kelly Beaudoin

Even for those of us who love the holiday season, this time of year can be very stressful. In addition to all our regular commitments, we somehow manage to squeeze in enough time for holiday shopping, extra cooking and baking, get-togethers and parties, and maybe even a school concert or two.

The stores start stocking holiday décor in October, and suddenly the pressure is on – to have the “perfect” holiday, but do we really need perfection and all the stuff that goes with it?

Three things can make the holidays especially difficult for us all: time and money (which we don’t have enough of) and guilt (which we have too much of). Too often we try to do too much, try to buy too much, try to keep up with what we think others are doing, or what others expect of us. So how can we free ourselves of these pressures and still have a truly wonderful holiday experience?

Seven tips for a guilt-free holiday season:

Time and Money

  • We all joke about the people who start their holiday shopping on New Year’s Day, but there is definitely something to be said for not leaving it all to the last minute. If it’s the middle of July and you see something you know someone on your list would love, get it and store it! Especially if it’s on sale!
  • Make a list of who you are shopping for, set a spending limit, and STICK TO IT. Thoughtful gifts that don’t break the bank are just as wonderful, even more so than big ticket items.
  • Budget your time as well as your money and stick to that budget. If free time is hard to come by, keep things like decorating to a minimum. It’s more important to have time to relax and enjoy yourself than it is to have every room in your home decked out to the nines.
  • Do as much pre-work as you can with your baking and holiday cooking. Many food items freeze well and can be prepared up to a month or two in advance.


  • Too often we guilt ourselves into buying more than we can afford or that we really need. It’s okay if you can’t always get everything on everyone’s wish list. Honestly. Having healthy discussions about gifts and giving will help prepare everyone in advance to have realistic expectations. That goes for your kids, your family members, and your friends.
  • Make a list of everything you would like to do for the holidays – decorating, gatherings, food preparation, etc. – and rank everything from most important to least. If you run out of time, don’t sweat about the small stuff at the bottom of the list.
  • It can be hard or next to impossible to go everywhere and visit everyone. Set limits – maybe you can be with one group one day and another group another day – or maybe this year you’d like to keep things low-key and stay home, or take a turn hosting instead of visiting. Don’t feel guilty about doing what is best for you.
  • Take time to breathe, be realistic about what can be bought and accomplished, and listen to yourself and your family’s needs. Remember that gifts and things are temporal – it’s the thoughts and feelings behind them that stay with us.

The holidays don’t have to be perfect, but with a little preparation, they can be GREAT!





© 2012 Shepell•fgi. Material supplied by Shepell•fgi, the leading provider of integrated health and productivity solutions that address the mental, physical and social health issues affecting the workplace. This content is meant for informational purposes and may not represent the views of individual organizations. Please call your EAP or consult with a professional for further guidance.




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This information is designed to educate and inform you of financial strategies and products currently available. As each individual’s circumstances differ, it is important to review the suitability of these concepts for your particular needs with a Qualified Financial Advisor.