November 26, 2019

7 Tips for a Stress-free Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and for many, it’s also the most stressful. As I look back at my childhood, I remember how much I use to complain to my parents about not wanting to help with preparing the food for the holidays.

The thought about standing around the kitchen table with my parents, siblings, and sometimes extended family and friends, sharing stories, laughing, and sometimes arguing while spreading the “masa” (dough) onto the corn husks and having to make hundreds and hundreds of tamales was a nightmare to me.

As I think back, those are now the memories I cherish most.

As I have learned, the holidays are a time for family and friends. However, sometimes we allow the holidays to become a large source of stress, especially when we put pressure on ourselves and try to fulfill the wishes of others. I put together some tips and resources to help you deal with less holiday stress and more fun.

1. Debt-free Holiday

Don’t allow financial pressure to overspend. Doing so will add unnecessary stress and financial hardship. Instead, make a budget for holiday spending, buy smaller gifts, create handmade gifts, or give of your time.

I love how my son made a choice last year that spending on gifts was not an option for him, so he created coupons for each of his family members to use throughout the year. For example, one free car wash, make dinner one night, babysitting for 2 hours.

Remember, it’s the thought that counts.

2. Don’t Over Commit

Scheduling too many activities during the holidays can put a strain on both you and your family. Be realistic with your time and spending. What can you actually do and give? It’s okay to say “no,” or ask for help when you need it. Don’t try to make up for an absent parent with extra gifts or toys.

Remember, sometimes less is more and what your children mostly want is time, attention, and love.

3. Social Connections

Unwanted memories from the past sometimes come up during the holidays, often causing family stress. Surround your family with safe and supportive people that can provide strength and encouragement during difficult times.

4. Give Yourself a Break

“Me time” is one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your children. Don’t ever feel bad or guilty about spending some alone time to recharge and be your best, especially after late nights celebrating the holidays.

Remember, ask for help with the kids and go to bed a little early or do something you enjoy.

5. Different Cultures and Holidays

Holidays are a fun time to learn and talk about the different cultures and holidays people celebrate and why. I encourage you to learn and teach your children about other cultures and holidays so they understand them as well as your own.

6. Open Communication

Having open communication with your child can prevent certain challenges, such as bullying. It’s important that your child feels safe to speak with you about what’s going on at school so you can help them through the process.

7. Teaching Gratitude

Did you know that a recent study shows that practicing intentional gratitude has many benefits for children, including better physical and mental health, and better relationships with their families?

As a holiday dedicated to showing gratitude, Thanksgiving is a great time to talk to your children about what gratitude means and how to show it to others. Encourage your children to keep a gratitude journal and write three things or draw a picture of what they are grateful for each day.

As the holidays approach you may find the following events and resources helpful to you and your family:

Holiday Resources

Operation Help a Hero

Offers their services to active duty military members who have children or are expecting a child. The program provides gifts for their children, grocery and gas cards, gift certificates and more to bridge the gap during challenging times.

Toys for Tots

Local campaigns distribute toys as Christmas gifts to needy children.

Holiday Magic for Kids- The San Diego Coalition for the Homeless

EVENT DATE: Saturday, December 21st from 12PM – 3PM

Location: The Golden Hall, Community Concourse Building, 202 C Street, San Diego, CA 92101

Please note: Children 0-12 years of age must be pre-registered by December 10, 2019 to attend the event. The child may be registered by a school representative, social service agency, or other authority.

Toys for Joy

EVENT DATE: December 14 from 9AM – 2PM

Various Locations

Toys for Joy is open to all children and families, no registration is required. One free toy will be given to all children attending the event ages 0 – 11. Free lunch and groceries will be provided in addition to free entertainment, kid’s activities, and giveaways. All event sites have accommodations for children with special needs. 

Presbyterian Urban Ministries

Offers a toy program where low-income families in need can sign their child up for free toys and a backpack filled with school supplies.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army can assist with holiday meals, toys and clothing to low income families, including families of prisoners. If you visit their website, you can search for your local Salvation Army chapter.

Please note that many agencies receive more requests than they can provide. Please make sure to contact them ahead of time.

To download this article in English and Spanish, click the button below:


Please note that many agencies receive more requests than they can provide. Please make sure to contact them ahead of time.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at 619-427-4411 Ext. 1416 and by email at


Jenny Ordinario
CDA Family Resources Supervisor

CDA Family Resource Coordinator