Share your tips for your chance to win an Urban Barn $100 gift card!

We’re all gearing up for the holiday season – making a list (or 10) and checking them twice. Sometimes it seems that there’s so much going on at this time of year.

We’d love to hear from you: how do you stay stress free during the holidays?

Share your tips and tricks, and be entered to win a $100 Urban Barn gift card!

*Offer expires this Friday, December 2nd!

  1. My tips are as follows

    – Hot bubble baths
    – Indulge in the holiday themed coffees at local/mall coffee shops
    – Take my time, don’t wait til the last minute, make sure that shopping becomes enjoyable not stressful
    – Red wine and spiced rum with eggnog while wrapping, making lists, baking and all that fun stuff.

  2. Thanks everyone! We really enjoyed reading your responses. After looking through all of your great tips we’ve chosen Mandy A. as our winner! Take a look at what she had to say:

    “I stay stress free during the holidays by remembering the true meaning of Christmas. I enjoy this season knowing that this magnificent time only comes once a year. I remember the good food I’m going to eat, the loving people I’m going to be surrounded with, and the fun shopping I do. My motto at Christmas is, “if you’re not going to enjoy it, then don’t do it”. The stores can get hectic and crowded, but if you go in with a fun and calm perception and just purely enjoy this festive holiday then it will be fun no matter where you are or what you’re doing.”

  3. Planning! Don’t leave things to the last minute!

    – In October I create my spreadsheet with each of my families names highlighted in red and my friends/coworkers in greeen. Each person has two categories, what they have pointed out in casual conversation that go under “desired” and another category called “perfect for him/her”

    – As October rolls by and search the internet I copy and past links of items that I think fit under both “desired/perfect for him/her”. I am very sneaky when it comes to lunch dates or casual convos and ask the people I would like to buy for what they are coveting this year. Or if a friend says “mmm I would just love some Satsuma Body Butter” from The Body shop – I jot it down into my notes area of my agenda when we part ways.

    – About mid November I usually have a good stockpile of items that my friends and family are keen on having as a gift and that is when I pick a weekend (usually first weekend of December) and get it all done.

    – If a few items are mentioned to me after my initial large shop then I usually grab them asap.

    – Giving yourself lots of time (I am talking months!) and a game plan (such as my spreadsheet) you can make a daunting task very manageable!!! Plus you can get a lot of the ideas while doing something fun like window shopping with a girlfriend or browsing your favourite websites. Get all the shopping done on one weekend, put the packaged away for the week, the wrap them the following weekend so not to overwhelm yourself!

    – Too busy to wrap or just not that good at it? Take your gifts to the local mall and your items wrapped by “Santa’s Helpers” — it usually is by donation too!

    – Like wrapping? Make it even more fun by popping on some classic Christmas dvd’s or play some Christmas songs to keep you in the jolly mood!!!!!

    – My wrapping is usually all done by before December 10th 🙂

    – Just PLAN PLAN PLAN!!! Being organized pays off big time when it comes to keeping stress at bay. Good luck!!!

  4. After I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each time a remark is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any manner you may take away me from that service? Thanks!

  5. I plan as much of my shopping in advance as possible. And this year, to reduce stress for my husband I have created a folder with tear sheets of items that I would like. That way he can look through and pick and choose the gift he would like to give me. (Last year I was given a gift card to a teen shop. He remembered me shopping there. I did…I was picking up a gift for our nephew!)

  6. My husband’s family starts their Christmas plans in July! By the time November rolls around, we have all our shopping completed, and can enjoy December stress-free.

  7. I hold all my wife’s shopping bags while I park my butt on a bench in the shopping mall. It’s a win win for stress-free shopping weekend for husband and wife. We make a great team.

  8. I hold all my wife’s shopping bags and sit on the mall bench while she does all the shopping. It’s a win-win shopping stress-free game plan.

  9. The last time I was stressed I painted my walls and went to the stores for some inspiration and little by little I have made my home more comfy and stress free.

  10. I stay stress free through Christmas and into the New Year by continuing to exercise regardless of how busy I am or how bad the weather is.

  11. 1. I start shopping for Christmas Gifts in advance to make sure I don’t forget anyone, and get nice wrapping paper and ribbon. Wrapping gifts can be just as fun as buying them!

    2. As for holiday decor, I always get colour schemes that can be mixed and matched for years to come. That way, I don’t have to worry about completely changing my decor, I just change accent colours every other year.

    3. Always, Always, Always, decorate and cook during the holiday with some Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, and a glass of wine.

  12. I stay stress free by decorating. It’s something I enjoy doing, which also has a calming effect for me and the end result makes me feel good to be in a nice surrounding.

  13. I make sure that I buy some gifts for myself and treat myself and not only keep busy pleasing everyone else but me we are all looked after including myself lol

  14. To avoid stress, I signed up for a laughing yoga class. The idea is that when you laugh, you release positive neutrotransmitters throughout your body even if you are just forcing yourself to laugh. I think that it will be a good stress reliever. I heard that you end up just smiling from all the silliness.

  15. When it comes to shopping here are some of my tips:

    -Try not to wear bulky clothing, I’ve noticed malls love to increase the thermostat, that way you avoid a melt down.

    – Stay away from the food court (it’s madness) take snacks with you instead.

    – Remember it’s the thought that counts, so don’t kill yourself on trying to get the ‘perfect’ gift.

    – Finally treat yourself to seasonal drinks or shortbread cookies, the holidays only comes once a year, that’s my excuse for any extra pounds gained 😉

  16. 1. I focus on spending time with my family and friends during the holidays, whether its grabbing a holiday latte, going out to nice restaurant or ice skating at Harbourfront.

    2. I try to stay away from stores located in malls, instead i prefer to shopping at Queen St or Yonge St, that way if the shopping experience gets to be too much i can get outside quickly and move on to the next store.

    3. Lastly, its not the holidays without paying a visit to LCBO and picking up some fun drinks for the season!!

  17. I stay stress-free by having most (if not all) shopping done by early to mid December, I have my baking done early and plenty of things in the freezer for any unexpected/last minute guests. Then, I just relax and enjoy the holiday season with family and friends – easy, right?! 🙂

  18. I stay stress free by shopping deals all year long and keeping track of what I purchased for who for what holiday on my phone. No overspending and everyone gets way better gifts than if I waited and only shopped in December.

  19. I try to do a lot of my shopping online. If I can’t I plan online so when I get into the store I know what I want, and how much it costs. In and out.

  20. To stay free this holiday season I plan to stay put! That is, I won’t be doing any traveling. No more long line-ups at the airport, lost luggage, and trying to compete with others to get a cab. This year, I will be taking it all in stride and enjoying the holidays at home. The only thing that could stress me out is a burnt turkey but I could always order one as a back-up plan.

  21. To stay stress free during the holidays I stay away from the malls and do all my shopping online. It’s easy and I can do it while I am relaxing in the comfort of my own home. I would also go out for more walks along the beach and enjoy the fresh ocean air.

  22. i get all my shopping done way before so i don’t have to stress going to the busy malls to find presents for those hard-to-find people!

  23. I cook as much of the Christmas dinner as possible ahead of time so I have more time to spend with my family on Christmas Day.

  24. I make sure I get to Urban Barn in Mississauga first thing in the morning when it opens so that I can avoid the Holiday Rush.

  25. I start my shopping early, usually in October, so there isn’t a big rush in December. Then I can take my time decorating and hanging with my grandchildren doing crafts which puts me in the Christmas spirit & keeps the stress to a minimum.

  26. For the same reason, why I entered the contest. I only do gift cards!!! More importantly, I don’t care if they like my gift or not because with today’s economy everybody should be thankful even if the gift is from the dollar store!!!

  27. To stay stress free at Christmas time – I shop all year long, there are great clearance items to be had. I have presents and such stored all over my house. I hate the Christmas crowds and find it impossible to shop ! I avoid the holiday rush at all costs !! Being prepared and having everything done ahead of time is very helpful. Another stress free tip is .. always eat Christmas dinner at someone elses house ! LOL we have dinner at my moms every year, we all bring a dish, so its less work for my mom. Then boxing day – you start all over again !

  28. My husband’s side of the family decided to do away with gifts for adults, so we only worry about buying for the kids. My side of the family chooses names so there’s only one gift to buy. And any shopping that I do have to do, I try to do early and online.

  29. I try to have all the decorating, shopping and cards done well before Christmas Eve, which is reserved for getting together with my sister and my Mom to create a wonderful Ukrainian Christmas feast! Christmas day is another gathering with my husband’s family! Boxing day is reserved for our children – a PJ day! I have to admit there is a little wine or scotch or Bailey’s involved on the 24th and the 25th (ok, and the 26th)! I learned a long time ago that if things are not done by the 24th, it probably was not going to get done, and it probably doesn’t matter! Accept it and enjoy the true spirit of Christmas!

  30. I’m staying stress-free by having completed all of my holiday shopping already! I started in the middle of the summer this year and it has really cut down on my stress. It also doesn’t hurt to indulge in the calming pepperminty taste of candy canes!

  31. I try to stay stress free by doing as much shopping online as I can. Also, keep in mind that it is a stressful time of year and everyone is feeling it…just relax and remember that everything will be over in a few weeks.

  32. By remembering that’s it’s not about finding the perfect gifts for everyone, but about sharing love, joy, peace, and grace with everyone around me!

  33. I shop online, and I usually finish all of my shopping by mid-November. The crowds and bustle of the malls and stores adds a lot of stress during the holiday season…so I’d rather just avoid it!

  34. Like many others, I try to start my shopping REALLY early… There’s nothing like finding great gifts in a leisurely manner, and often on sale, to make the holidays feel more satisfying!

  35. As cliche as this may sound I try not to sweat the small stuff. In the long run those little things will not matter and that is not what people remember

  36. To reduce I holiday stress I shop early, don’t over extend myself and take time to just enjoy quite time at home. Hot apple cider and lovely Christmas music helps!

  37. I stay stress free by doing my shopping with the ‘extra’ pay from the second month with 3 pays for us that are paid biweekly. This way, I don’t have to worry about going into debt and I beat the rush. This year it was a little early – September!

  38. I keep my eye out for things I think people might want or they directly say they want over the year, then get them as time goes by. Spreads the shopping out and makes sure people are happy and surprised with what they get.

  39. I stay stress free by shopping mostly online and well in advance of the holidays.
    I take a week off leading to the holidays and spend time taking care of the family:
    sending out postcards, cooking, decorating and making my home the most
    comfortable place for everyone…

  40. I make a list of everything that everyone wants for Christmas two months before and do the shopping little by little at a time.

  41. I avoid trying to do it all, and not feeling guilty for saying ‘no’. Trying to cram everything and everyone into the holidays can become overwhelming for anyone. For example, I pick and choose which events I really want or need to go to, and pass on the rest. Focusing on what is really important to me and my family ensures I don’t get stressed by the holiday hype!

  42. I stay stress-free by focusing on quality, not quantity, when it comes to visits with friends and family. It’s better to visit with some loved ones for longer than attempt to see everyone for an hour. Too much driving in the Canadian winter doesn’t help anyone’s stress levels!

  43. I stay stress free during the holidays by remembering the true meaning of Christmas. I enjoy this season knowing that this magnificent time only comes once a year. I remember the good food I’m going to eat, the loving people I’m going to be surrounded with, and the fun shopping I do. My motto at Christmas is, “if you’re not going to enjoy it, then don’t do it”. The stores can get hectic and crowded, but if you go in with a fun and calm perception and just purely enjoy this festive holiday then it will be fun no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

  44. Stay stress free by planning ahead, plan your menus for any entertaining that you will be doing and do a large grocery shop for any non perishables or items that will be going in the freezer. We also do a big trip to the beer & wine store early to stock up for any entertaining over the holidays.

    I also try to have nice nibbles that are easy to put together, I like having something to put out if people pop by (spiced nuts, fixings for antipasto platters, smoked salmon etc)

  45. I do my shopping well in advance so I avoid the hustle of malls and shopping centres as Christmas approaches. I do my shopping in a stress free zone, get all the presents without worrying about availability, and I get to enjoy the holiday time because I’ve already done my job! Like a true boy scout, Always Be Prepared.

  46. Keep the list down to immediate family members only. This year my husband and I spent a lot of money on renovations to the house which means we don’t have much money to spend this Xmas. We opted to not buy each other gifts. We’re buying only for the kids and that’s ok. I have a beautiful new house to enjoy. That’s my Xmas present. Therefore my tip is to focus on spending time with the family and NOT on gifts.

  47. I quite enjoy the hustle and bustle and don’t find it stressful at all. But I ensure I stay stress free by researching products/sales ahead of time and having a good picture of what I am getting for each person 🙂

  48. 1. Lower your expectations of what you expect from yourself and your friends/family.
    2. Online shopping is so, so easy when you have small children. Especially if you choose stores that give you free shipping and returns.
    3. Feel good by shopping local for some of your gifts and support local Canadian business.
    4. Christmas is largely about children and giving; so we always donate to children in need.
    5. Remember to breathe 😉

  49. I don’t stay stress free! But, I reduce stress by planning ahead. I find one of my biggest stresses can be the crowds and the traffic, so I try to shop when no one else is (Friday nights can be surpirsingly quite), plan get togethers for mid-week rather than weekends, and walk when I can rather than driving. Walking has a bonus benefit of being a stress reducer. Mostly I try to remember that what is really important is being with the people I care about – the rest really doesn’t matter all that much.

  50. I constantly remind myself that Christmas is about family, friends and faith and not food, fancy and frenzy to enjoy the best season of the year!!!!!! And especially this year when Dec. 27th is moving day!!!!

  51. I stay stress free by cranking the cheesy Christmas tunes at home any time I can, sticking to my yoga schedule and making sure I’m NOT in the Mall on December 24th.

  52. To stay stress free during the holidays i do my christmas shopping during the month of November so that i am not scrambling in December. I also make sure to join in winter activities so that the winter doesnt seem so cold and long. Then i relax in a hot bath with lavendar bubbles and then snuggle by the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate.

  53. My family buys just for the kids, nothing too big, and we skip presents for the adults and instead leave it open to donate to charity. We have so much and so many go hungry this time of year. My kids have made a tradition of filling a shoebox full of toys/art supplies etc. with their grandparents that gets shipped to needy kids in other countries. I have everything I need and more than I could want. This leaves the holidays stress free and focused on others rather than ourselves. What is Christmas about anyways?

  54. Its Simple! Start Early and Enjoy the “Ahhh” Moments of Each Day!

    Spend time with the ones you LOVE … and buy them all gifts from Urban Barn 😉

  55. It’s all about planning ahead. Budgeting, Coming up with gift ideas ahead of time and scheduling things like baking and decorating for weekends . Plus watching all the holiday classics!

  56. I stay stress free by fishing for gift ideas from the people I want to buy for months ahead, that way they are more willing to tell me what they want because they don’t suspect anything. Afterwards, I start my holiday shopping at the end of October or beginning of November which gives me plenty of time to look for the gifts. When December comes around, I’ve already finished my Christmas shopping so that allows me to avoid the crowds, the mass confusion, frustration and run around to look for presents.

  57. Love your blog!
    Here are my 3 tips to stay stress free during the holidays!

    1. Have a plan! Make sure you have a list and check it twice before heading out to the madness that is shopping.
    Gift Cards to a favourite store of your recipient (Urban Barn is always good!) are always a good idea…to make your gift more personal, take some time and write a beautiful handwritten note in your card for them.

    2. Make sure you have eggnog in your fridge at all times!

    3. Most importantly, after a long day of shopping or on a cold winter’s day, I like to curl up on my Moma Sofa, wrapped in my UB Faux Fur throw with a hot cappucinno with a dash of Bailey’s and put the Fireplace channel on the tv. I light candles, put on a mix of Diana Krall, Harry Connick Jr. and Mariah Carey Holiday albums on shuffle and sit back and relax. If I am lucky, large snowflakes will be falling outside so I can take a minute and fully appreciate what this season is all about.

    Happy Holidays Everyone!

  58. For festive entertaining, keep the lights on dim, add lots of candles and Christmas lights to create a great atmosphere (and camouflages any dirty areas)!

  59. Instead of trying to tackle everything that comes your way, think about the activities / parties / people that really mean a lot to you and schedule these first. Learn to say No. Every small thing you add to your busy calendar – another secret office Santa, another cookie exchange, will stretch you thin and leave you frazzled. Once you have a manageable list, it becomes easier to plan and shop for gifts and events.

  60. Focus on the time spent with family and your reltionship with them, instead of outside pressures to be and accomplish perfection. Often non-perfection, mishaps, and mistakes, crete the fondest memories.

  61. I try to focus on the fact that Christmas is about family and friends and showing people that you care, and not necessarily about buying stuff.

  62. Shop during the weekdays, research your purchases… and don’t be afraid to indulge in a little hard-earned egg nog 😉

    I was listening to an interested commentary yesterday regarding online shopping — while it is important to research, if you’re opting to purchase something online for “cheaper” than in store — be considerate of the local (and heck, not-so-local) businesses. Don’t waste the employees’ or store’s time by interrogating them on information regarding the purchase you know you won’t be buying there!

    Do your research online!

  63. To stay stress free, I let other people plan for me! Meanwhile, I enjoy hot chocolate, ice skating, and decorating gingerbread houses. It’s always nice to relax and engage in holiday activities.

  64. How I remain stress free? I give thanks. I take a good look around and enjoy it all. And the most important. I remember the real reason for the season. Its not about getting the latest gadget. Or getting the best deal. I let people butt in front of me in a line. I will let a person take the last toy on the shelf. Cause its not about stuff. Its about your loved ones and spending time with them. So I remain content and thankful. Which equals being stress free. Merry Chrstmas. Crissy

    1. Well put…I could not agree with you more. Out of all of the posts written I was so hoping that someone would mention what you did. If not I would submit it myself. I understand that a lot rests on the shoulders of us women, Mom’s and wives. But this is a period of enjoyment for not only those around us but ourselves too. How fortunate we are to be able to have the opportunity to spend the holidays in this fashion and with the ones we love. Many others would trade anything to be in our shoes! So when you feel like you can’t possibly bake another cookie, wrap another gift. Share some time with those you love, relax and live in the moment! Thank you for your post!

  65. To keep the holidays stress-free I try to break up all the many tasks — shopping for family and friends, wrapping and shipping gifts on time, writing and mailing thoughtful Christmas cards, hosting holiday dinner party, baking cookies and making chocolates, decorating the house (inside + out) etc — into smaller, daily to-dos to keep things manageable and less daunting.

    By preparing a prioritized weekly calendar marked with daily tasks, I can manage my time better and check many to-dos off my list without overwhelming myself by thinking of ALL the things I have to get done. By breaking things into smaller tasks I am able to stay focused and keep the stress levels down while enjoying a sense of accomplishment each day

    In the end, I’ve achieved what I set out to and allowed myself to enjoy the holidays instead of rushing through them at a frantic pace.

  66. I make sure I take time to enjoy myself over the course of the holidays, in between the stressful activities. Enjoy a mug of tea, play a game, hang out with friends, go out for a good meal. Little pockets of bliss get me through!

  67. I stay stress free by making a game-plan before I go shopping, and knowing what I am getting everyone and from where before I venture out. That way I only have to go out maximum 2 or 3 times to finish everything. I also get mid-week EDOs at work so I try and shop during the day in the middle of the week to avoid crowds. I stay away on Saturdays!

  68. My tips to stay stress free during the holidays:

    – Avoid the malls as it gets closer to the big day – try to beat the crowds and get your shopping done early or online. Also, stay organized and know who you’re buying for so you don’t have to rush last minute!
    – If you’re hosting dinner – make as much ahead of time as you can so you won’t feel too rushed.
    – Adult eggnog! Or some hot chocolate with Baileys! lol it will be a lifesaver to enjoy a cup.

    Danielle (dee.thomson[at]

  69. Online shopping! It is the best thing you can do to avoid busy parking lots, crowded stores, and bad driving conditions in the winter. It is a lot of fun for me, too. I love browsing through virtual stores and checking off my gift list.
    Also, a hot cup of mulled wine relieves holiday-related stress too!

  70. I have a three step holiday process to keep me stress free over the holidays:
    1. Plan – I use Evernote throughout the year to keep tabs on potential holiday gift ideas for my family and friends. Then closer to Christmas I plan a strict budget that I try to stay within.
    2. Research – Then I shop online to find the best prices and get a list of items to buy for each person that fits in my budget (whether it’s in store or online deals).
    3. Shop – Then I put all the errands into the reminder app on my iPhone and plan a week where I shop.
    Friendly tip – if you need to go to a store take a Wednesday morning off and go then. It’s not as busy and you have plenty of time to wrap and hide those fantastic gifts you just picked up!

    Can’t wait to read all the other tips!



    p.s. When it comes to holiday parties, there are tonnes this time of year and it’s important you are a gracious guest. Make sure on your shopping list you pick up a number of unisex stocking stuffers on the way like bottles of wine, vases, appetizer plates, frames, cheese sets, etc. Wrap them up and keep a few at home and at work so if you get invited somewhere you’re always ready with a fab host/hostess gift without the stress!

  71. how do i stay stress free over the holidays? baking and decorating! it’s a little time i can take to myself, and i get to enjoy the results with others.

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