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3 Tips to Keep Calm and Stay Cozy During the Holidays

It’s almost the holiday season! A time of cheer … and a time of fear and anxiety for a lot of us. Hurrah. This year, however, let’s make a plan to stay as calm and cozy as possible, while still ensuring that everything gets done and all social engagements are met.

Gift Yourself Time

Last-minute shopping is a source of stress. If you want to remain calm in the coming days, wave it toodeloo and start your holiday shopping well in advance. This way, when out-of-stock items, hard-to-nab foods, and delivery mishaps occur (and they always do around this time of year), you’ll have no reason to stress. Late-arriving parcels (or never-arriving parcels) won’t leave you in a strop if there are other stores to buy from and plenty of time to do so.

Another time-consuming/mind-consuming item to check off your mental checklist is gifts. DIY presents are a lovely way to show your family and pallies how grateful you are for their ever-loving, well-intentioned presence in your life (however idealistic they may be). DIY, however, requires extra time and planning.

Now would be a good time to start knitting Auntie Beatrice’s cotton sweater. For your sister, a handmade recipe book with a collection of recipes you know she’ll be dying to try. And for the child who likes to imagine she’s a butterfly princess in the realm of the fae? Craft her a wickedly imaginative costume.

When we’re creative, it improves our mental and emotional health, so DIY really becomes a gift of well-being (and who knows, you may even be saving yourself time in the costume department next Halloween).

A Cozy Home Reduces Stress

Your home should be a sanctuary. Whether you’ve decided to host holiday dinner this year or not, creating a calm and cozy home environment may keep you from becoming a cold-hearted miser who despises all things Christmas and convivial.

A Warm Welcome

One of life’s little gifts is to be on the receiving end of a warm welcome. Make your guests feel welcomed twice over, not only with your warmth but by designing an entryway that’s both inviting and functional.

Start outside and hang a wreath, use a welcoming doormat and decorate with lights, holiday decor, and foliage.

Inside, the entryway is a bit of a multifunctional space. People are coming and going, hanging things up and putting things down, taking off shoes and shucking their coats and scarves. Make it easy for them to do so with designated spaces that accommodate their needs. It’s a simple way of saying, “Come in out of the cold and stay awhile.”

A simple way to echo the welcoming sentiment is with a pleasing scent that wafts over your guests as soon as they open the door. Try using candles, reed diffusers, or potpourri and, just as you did outdoors, do indoors: squeeze in a little greenery, pops of holiday color and decor, and instead of a welcome mat, try an area rug for a cozy effect.


A warm crackling fire oozes warmth and coziness, especially during the holidays. It may seem small, but if you get the lighting right, you can influence the initial atmosphere of a room.

If your goal is to create a cozy, relaxing holiday environment that will put everyone at ease, imitate the soft, yellow glow of firelight by using warm-colored light bulbs, candles, sconces, and table and floor lamps. Arrange them strategically to draw the eye toward particular areas of the room.

Lighting can manipulate a space to appear bigger than it is. It can also add depth and height, highlight or downplay, and affect a person’s overall mood. For example, bright lighting heightens emotions, and ambient lighting calms. Use this to your advantage and find ways to integrate holiday lighting, from string lights to North Pole lanterns, to lights intertwined with garland up the staircase, to a nativity scene on an accent table, and finally, to the lights and topper on your Christmas tree.

Texture and Textiles

Texture is an easy way to dress a room up with a little character, and it can also be used to cozy up a space. I’ll refrain from going into too much detail since I’ve written another post that covers this topic a little more in depth, but textiles like velvet, wool, bamboo, and fleece will make you want to snuggle in for the night.

Since it’s the holiday season, play around with different fabrics that have a heavier feel to them (flannel or velvet) to add some extra warmth and coziness. Try layering and find ways to incorporate baskets, rugs, art, books, and blankets for a warm and inviting atmosphere.

If you have a fireplace, make it the focal point of the room, as it was in the olden days. A hearth is a perfect place to decorate with candles, family photos in antique frames, holiday garland, and festive decor. Lastly, arrange a comfy seating area around the fire to create a relaxing, convivial space.

Preparation & Planning

Over the years, I’ve learned that a little planning and a smidge of mental prep can reduce a lot of holiday stress.

Now, look. I know it’s supposed to be a merry time of year–food, presents … family, but real talk: as exciting as it is to see Uncle Louis and Grandmother Pearl, family gatherings can get a little nutty. We’re excited, we’re emotional, we’re exhausted. Someone’s bound to say something that touches a nerve, or the organic golden grass fed turkey comes out of the oven too dry, or Auntie Beatrice’s opinion made everyone go real, real quiet.

holiday season

Mentally preparing ourselves for the holiday is vital to our calm and cozy plan. Rehearse your answers to all those well-meaning questions. Decide now how you’ll respond to uncomfortable comments.

When it comes to children, it doesn’t hurt to do a little prepping session with them, as well. Let them know how the day is planned out and what’s expected of them.

The holidays can be particularly overwhelming for shy or introverted children. Don’t pressure them to speak more than they’re comfortable with. Instead, help them find a quiet, calming space to play while they settle in and acclimate to the boisterous atmosphere.

Lastly, don’t forget to plan out your arrival, departure, and sleeping arrangements (if you’re from out of town). Having a holiday game plan will keep you in the moment and not worrying about all the little details because this year, all of the planning and decision-making has already been made.

On the other hand, as host (you brave, brave soul), try to meal prep as much as humanly possible so you’ll have less to worry about on the day.

Nail down a cleaning plan that won’t leave you feeling stressed and exhausted the day after. Always have a plan B in case something disastrous happens while cooking. But, first and foremost, remember what the holidays are about–not a perfectly cooked meal, nor an argument-free zone, but gratitude, always gratitude, and time to spend with the people you love.

(And time off from work and school. Tut tut, we were all thinking it.)

To wrap this up, give yourself extra time in the shopping and crafting departments, make your home a cozy sanctuary that reduces stress, and prepare yourself mentally and with a game-day plan so you can keep calm and stay cozy during the holiday season. Toodles!

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