14 Tips to Stay Sane During the Holidays

stay sane during the holidays

It’s counter-intuitive: This time of year we should be taking time to enjoy life, but for many entrepreneurs, it’s the busiest season of the year. And that’s not just for those who work in retail. We’re busy with holiday party obligations, buying client gifts, volunteering, sending cards…the list goes on and on. But how do you stay sane during the holidays?

I’m in favor of this being the best time of year, and taking a moment to reflect on the past 12 months. To that end, below are my tips for managing the madness.

How to Stay Sane During the Holidays

1. Say No

stay sane during the holidays

Sure, you feel the need to give your time right now, but you don’t have to.

We have this sense of guilt when we say no, but it’s actually freeing. We assume the world will fall apart if we don’t make cookies for our kid’s class, take on a new project and attend every holiday event.

But you know what? The world keeps on turning.

2. Start Early

If you’re just now thinking about how to market during the holidays, you’re adding undue stress to your workload.  Be like 31% of businesses, who start their holiday marketing strategy 2-3 months in advance.

You can bet they’re less stressed in executing their plans since everything was laid out months ago.

3. Make Client Gift Shopping Simple

It’s wonderful if you have time to individually curate gifts for each of your clients. But if you don’t have that kind of time, buy in bulk.

There are hundreds of sites that sell gift baskets and boxes of goodies that let you bulk buy and ship directly to your clients. You can customize by choosing different gifts from the same site. But you’ll drastically cut down on your shopping time if you can make a single purchase and send gifts to everyone on your list

4. Focus on What Really Needs to Get Done

stay sane during the holidays

I keep procrastinating on an ebook I want to write before the end of the year. I find a million other things I “should” do instead. But come January, I’ll be disappointed that I procrastinated on this business-building tool.

Look at your to-do list and eliminate everything that’s not a necessity.

5. Clean and Organize

I like to start a new year with an organized office. You should too. Carve out an hour each week to deal with that teetering pile of papers on your desk, as well as to organize your computer files.

In the new year, you’ll be more streamlined and able to find what you need quickly.

6. Be Selective About Events

stay sane during the holidays

Here you can exercise your new ability to say no. Holiday parties can be fun, but they can also be stressful, especially when they take you away from the office or home.

Decide which events you really need to be present at, as well as which you really don’t want to attend – and RSVP accordingly.

7. Schedule Your Marketing

If you’re the person at your company that writes the blog posts and social media updates, be smart about your time.

When you have an hour or more to dedicate to marketing, maximize your time by writing several posts and scheduling them for the remainder of the year. Use a tool like Hootsuite to schedule your social media updates.

It’s easy enough to set up tweets and updates to your content, then check in once a day and respond directly to any comments sent to your account from other users.

8. Stop and Breathe

Like I said, now is the ideal time to reflect on the past year. Instead of constantly going-going-going – slow down and enjoy the moment.

Don’t let the holidays stress you out. Instead, use this time to appreciate everything you’ve accomplished as a small business owner.

I’ll raise my glass of hot cocoa to that!

9. Personal Self-Care

stay sane during the holidays

It’s a no-brainer: you can’t pour from an empty cup. This season, prioritize your wellness. Slot in quick exercises; a brisk walk in the cold can both invigorate and clear your mind. A daily meditation or mindfulness routine might seem indulgent, but it’s a lifesaver. Just a few minutes can recenter you amidst the chaos. And don’t skimp on sleep! Those extra hours of work aren’t as productive if you’re running on fumes.

10. Leverage Technology

In the midst of holiday chaos, technology can be your best ally. Here’s how to harness it effectively:

  • Automation: Utilize tools for routine tasks like email responses or invoicing.
  • Virtual Assistants: Great for entrepreneurs juggling multiple tasks. They can:
    • Manage administrative duties.
    • Handle holiday planning.
    • Free up your time to focus on overarching business goals.

11. Set Boundaries

Burnout isn’t a badge of honor. Clearly define your working hours and communicate them. It’s okay not to respond to emails at midnight. Periodically, step back from screens for a quick digital detox. A little space can yield a lot of clarity.

12. Plan Ahead

Look beyond the tinsel and lights. What’s your vision for the new year? Lay the groundwork now. Define your goals and aspirations, giving you a clear roadmap for the year ahead.

If you’re taking time off, ensure clients know your return date or who’s covering in your absence. Clarity now means fewer fires later.

13. Find Joy in the Little Things

It’s easy to become wrapped up (pun intended) in the grander goals of the season. Amid the commercial whirlwind, reconnect with the genuine joys. Maybe it’s the twinkle of lights in your office, the joy of a satisfied customer, or simply a steaming mug of your favorite seasonal drink.

By pausing to relish these moments, you recharge emotionally, ensuring your heart is as invested in your endeavors as your mind.

14. Embrace Traditions

stay sane during the holidays

Traditions are the heartbeats of the holiday season. Celebrate the myriad of cultural festivities of those you work with — it’s both respectful and enlightening. And for your own venture? Forge some company traditions. Whether it’s a themed holiday party or a special year-end token for clients, make moments that’ll be eagerly anticipated each year.

Company Tradition Ideas:

  • Themed Holiday Parties: Choose a different theme each year for an unforgettable celebration.
  • Year-End Tokens: Customized gifts or notes expressing gratitude to clients or partners.
  • Volunteer Day: Organize a day for your team to give back to the community.
  • Cultural Celebrations: Dedicate days to celebrate various cultural festivities within your team.
  • Yearly Recaps: A fun video or presentation highlighting company achievements and memorable moments.
  • Secret Santa: A fun gift exchange within your team to foster bonding.
  • Holiday Workshops: Organize workshops related to crafts, cooking, or other festive activities.

How to Stay Sane During the Holidays Summary

Time Management- Say No<
- Start Early
- Schedule Your Marketing
Personal Well-being- Sleep
- Mindfulness and Meditation
- Stop and Breathe
Financial Planning- Budgeting
- Year-End Financial Review
Workspace- Clean and Organize
Networking- Thank You Notes
- Year-End Catch-ups
Goal Setting- Plan Ahead
- Reconnect with Your 'Why'
Technology & Tools- Automate Where Possible
- Use Virtual Assistants
Event Management- Be Selective About Events
Purchasing & Gifting- Make Client Gift Shopping Simple
Embracing Tradition- Celebrate Cultural Festivities
- Company Traditions
Teamwork- Delegate and Collaborate
Diversification- Diversify Your Approach

Happy Santa Photo via Shutterstock

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Susan Payton Susan Payton is the Communications Manager for the Small Business Trends Awards programs. She is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in content marketing, social media management and press releases. She is also the Founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners who want to generate their own PR.

9 Reactions
  1. I know what you mean by busy. I also work in the gift giving industry and Christmas is not a season of rest for us. In fact, it is one of our busiest seasons. But then again, we don’t allocate time to Christmas events and stuff so that we can focus more on what matters – satisfying our clients.

    • Aira–
      Where do you work? When you say “gift giving industry,” you’ve piqued my curiosity!

      • I work in an online gift store. We get more orders in seasons like Christmas and Valentines day. That’s why we really cannot rest during these seasons as this is a season where most of our money comes from.

  2. And when you’ve decided to stop working, make sure you’re totally away from it. Put the phone on silent and set it somewhere you won’t see the notification light. Then go enjoy the time off.

    • Agreed. If you constantly feel guilty, you’re not really staying sane.

    • Haha I need to remind myself constantly of that. You see, I’m a workaholic. I just cannot survive without that ‘kick’ from work. I am the type that people have to remind to stop working just because it is Christmas or it’s my birthday.

  3. I’ve often found it difficult to say no to people. Guilty too. Especially with family and friends. But if I’ve learnt anything this year, it’s this: saying no to others is saying yes to myself :-). I shouldn’t exclude myself from the equation of time giving. I’m worth my own time.

  4. I agree to the fact that holiday or festive season is the best time of the year to do all sort of work but without getting insane with it. Patience & proper planning always pays off even with the toughest time, why don’t we practice it to get a better result.

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