Holiday stress: The secret cost of the season
Wednesday, December 04, 2019
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but apparently, it’s also the most stressful. Some of that stress is related to holiday expenses, but it’s also a result of trying to make everything perfect.
Roughly half of the respondents in recent survey by Yelp say holidays are the single most stressful time of the year. Here’s why:
- Hosting a party or dinner: 51%
- Friends or family staying over: 45%
- Traveling to see family or friends: 45%
- Taking a vacation: 24%
Whether hosting a dinner, a party, or having guests spend the night, respondents are anxious because they don’t have time to clean in advance, worried that they don’t have enough time to prepare everything, concerned about preparing the actual holiday meals, and not looking forward to cleaning up later.
However, hosts aren’t the only people anxious during the holiday season. Guests are also stressed out — they’ll be in busy airports or on crowded roads with millions of other Americans. Also, staying in someone else’s home can mean a lack of privacy and giving up the freedom to set their own schedule.
Bringing in the pros
“The stress of being the consummate host or hostess during the holidays can make it hard to get into the holiday spirit,” says Yelp trend expert Tara Lewis. “Whether catering or home cleaning, consider what projects you can outsource to a professional this season, giving the gift of a stress-free holiday season to you and your loved ones.”
According to the respondents:
- 28% would like to use a home cleaner
- 16% would like to use a caterer or private chef
- 12% would like to use a holiday decorator
- 10% would like to use another pro (handyman, chimney cleaning, etc.)
The money factor
Another part of holiday stress is based on how much money respondents are spending this time of the year. While most of them plan to spend an average of $972 on holiday-related costs, the average person who overspends will miss this mark by $489. Other interesting data from the survey:
- 25% will overspend by more than $500
- 46% will overspend on gifts for family and friends
- 19% will overspend on food and drinks for home
- 14% will overspend on food and drinks when eating out
Over a third of respondents say they eat out more during the holidays than the rest of the year, and over half stress over the fact that it will cost more to eat out. Among people who travel during the holiday season, a quarter of them say they stress out over the cost of eating out.
However, some people are resisting the urge to get in financial straits. A full 40% of respondents plan to have a smaller celebration to save money, and 22% are thinking about skipping a holiday celebration.
Tips for surviving the holidays
Lewis provides the following tips to make the holidays less stressful.
Set a realistic budget: “We saw that over half of those surveyed say they have a budget for the holiday season, but just one-fifth ‘always’ stick to it.” She recommends being realistic about your spending or else your budget won’t help you.
“Make sure to budget for things outside of gifts, like dining out more often, a new outfit or beauty items for all of your holiday get-togethers.”
Lean on friends and family: When hosting,consider asking each of your guests to bring one item. “Start an email thread and ask if people can volunteer to bring something easy, like soda, champagne, or a dessert.”
She says most people would love to chip in, and this can help you remove items from your to-do list. “You might even find that people appreciate that you’re asking for a little help instead of pretending to be superwoman or superman.”
Make a list of everything on your plate: “Staying organized is key during the holiday season, and all it takes is 15 minutes to make a list of everything that’s stressing you out.”
She says that taking a step back allows you to decide what’s critical and what’s not. “Taking a few minutes to reflect will help you be more intentional about where your precious time and energy is going.”
Check the $$ before dining out: “It’s easy to overspend on dinners with family and friends, so take the extra time to make sure you’re going to a restaurant in your budget.”
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