--Plan a "Silent Night." Before the season begins, block out some days on your calendar for down time. Don't accept invitations for those nights, and plan to do nothing but relax.
--Delegate. You don't have to do it all. Let family members do some of the baking and decorating.
--Chop Your Lists in Half. Most of us really do more than we need to. This year try cutting every holiday list, from your to-do list to your shopping list in half. Bake half the amount of cookies, do half the chores, buy half as much. This will give you less stress, less bills to pay off in the New Year. Family members who want more can volunteer to make that happen.
--Party While You Work. Get together with friends to wrap presents and bake cookies. The work may not get done any faster, but you'll have fun.
--Hire Elves. Spend money instead of energy and hire help for the holidays. A student home for Christmas break might love to earn some extra income stringing lights for you or vacuuming your house.
--Give Yourself a Bonus. There's nothing like a Christmas bonus to ward off a strike. Treat yourself to afternoon tea with a friend, a chick flick or a manicure. It will do wonders for your attitude. And if you get your nails done, it will do wonders for you holiday look!
--Plan Ahead. The more you can do ahead of time the easier the holidays are so plan now to start getting ready for next Christmas in the New Year. Delegate a cupboard or some closet space to presents and shop the after-Christmas sales for everything from stocking stuffers and hostess gifts to wrapping paper and ribbon. Getting ready for the holidays a little at a time all year long is sure to make your holiday less stressful and more merry and bright!
Sheila Rabe lives in the Pacific Northwest. In addition to being published in many languages, her best-selling novels have been book club picks, Reader's Digest Condensed books, and have been optioned for film. Her novel, On Strike for Christmas, is set to air on the Lifetime channel this December. When she's not speaking to women's groups or at conferences or playing with her friends, she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women's hearts: family, friends, and chocolate. To learn more about Sheila, visit her website at www.sheilasplace.com, or watch "On Strike for Christmas" on LIFETIME.