Keep the Holidays in Perspective to Reduce Stress this Year


December 6th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

As pleasant as the holiday season can be, it often becomes a time of high stress, unrealistic expectations and financial challenges. It’s the time of year when many people may spend more than they should. But the holidays don’t have to mean drained savings accounts and bills to pay in January, says Kim Brantner, family life program specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“We expect more of the season, and of ourselves, than can possibly be delivered. We are bombarded by television advertising and holiday displays for months,” Brantner says. “Try to avoid letting the material aspect of the holidays overshadow the spiritual and traditional aspects. Keep the holidays in perspective — especially a financial perspective.”

She says it isn’t the price tag, flashing lights or how big the box is that counts. Often the simple things in life mean the most. For example, an oatmeal container, some scrap flannel material and cotton balls can create a doll cradle, blanket and pillow and fond memories for a young child.

In the spirit of the season, Brantner offers a few gift ideas for the kids for not a lot of green:

  • Visit thrift stores and resale shops. Find wild dresses, uniforms, hats and jewelry. Put these treasures in a decorated cardboard box for games of “dress up.”
  • Draw a picture of a special activity to do with the kids a few days after the holidays, like roller skating or sledding. Wrap it up and put it under the tree. “Your children will look forward to spending time with you after the holiday rush is over,” says Brantner.
  • What kids wouldn’t like to get a coupon saying Mom or Dad will clean their room on demand? Then the next time you nag them to clean their room, they can hand you the coupon.

“It is OK to simplify your life, especially around the holidays. Doing so may save you some stress and some money — and help to put things in perspective,” according to Brantner.

For more holiday tips and resources, call the Cass County Extension Office at 712-243-1132 or stop by the Extension Office at 805 W. 10th St in Atlantic. You can also find information on parenting, holiday resources and more at