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The holiday season can be stressful due to family dynamics, finances, clutter, and all the challenges a pandemic brings. If you are worried about how to manage the never ending list of things to do, health protocols, and your emotional well-being, these 5 simple tips can help.

Know the CDC guidelines.

Though the vaccine is right around the corner, the CDC still recommends we do our due diligence by avoiding unnecessary travel, and choosing not to gather with people outside of our households. If you do decide to celebrate with others who do not live with you, the medical community advises you to keep gatherings under 10 people-remaining socially distanced within a well ventilated area. There are several states that have orders in place limiting household members congregating, so do be aware of local rules and regulations.

Determine how you will celebrate.

If you are meeting virtually, decide if you will have a set meeting time, or share a meal together – coordinating the time and app you will be using. And, if meeting in person, have a plan in place to ensure you are maintaining distancing protocol. Some families have utilized local self storage units to keep larger furniture items off-site, setting up separate tables within an open room to keep people apart. Other families have used self-storage to keep items they typically store within their garage, this way they can meet in an area that is partially outdoors (and still inside because of the weather). Whatever your choice, 6 feet of distance between you is key.

Know your boundaries.

Difficult family members? Know what you are capable of, and what you’re not, and set boundaries to ensure you are not placing yourself in a position that will be emotionally damaging. Feel free to tell a family member in advance if need-be that while you love them and respect their beliefs, political and/or religious views are just not something that will be discussed while you get together. You can even have a safe word with your partner, sibling, or child that you can use so that everyone can work together to quickly shift the conversation, or take over so that you can have a moment to yourself.

Set a budget and stick to it.

Finances are a touchy subject, especially during the holidays. If you are operating on a tight one, consider developing a list of who you need to purchase gifts for, what you plan on getting them, and the estimated cost. This way, you can adjust the items you plan on buying to ensure you don’t break the bank this holiday season. In addition to presents, do include the cost of any meals, decoration, and gift wrap as well – every little bit adds up.

Prep ahead of time.

Whether you are celebrating virtually or in person, consider prepping most of your meal ahead of time so that you can just reheat the day of, helping you actually enjoy the time with your family (big or small!). We also recommend spending a few weeks before the holidays clearing out clutter. With an influx of items guaranteed to be entering your home, determine what it is you need and what it is you don’t so that your home doesn’t become inundated by stuff. If space is an issue, renting a storage unit nearby can provide you with the room you need for larger items, such as sports equipment or seasonal decor.

Remember, the holidays are a time to be grateful for what we have, reach out to those we love, help those in need, and reflect on the past year (and what a year it has been)! In the words of Calvin Coolidge, “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”

Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday!