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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

November 29, 2023 - 9:00am --

How The Grinch Stole Christmas has always been my favorite holiday television special. I love Max the Dog, Cindy Lou Who and all the Whos down in Who-ville, but it’s the show’s message (based on the book by Dr. Seuss) that resonates with me most.

The Grinch, a cranky, solitary creature, attempts to stop the Whos from celebrating Christmas by stealing their gifts, decorations and even their “roast beast.” As the Whos begin their celebration on Christmas morning, he realizes that the things that he took from them are not the source of their joy. He begins to think that Christmas is about something more.

          During the holiday season, it’s easy to get wrapped up in gift lists, decorations, parties, food preparation and holiday travel and forget to stop and simply enjoy the season. We can get overwhelmed, stressed and grumpy. Here are some important practical tips that can help minimize the stress that accompanies the holidays.

          Plan ahead. Holiday expenses add up quickly. Make a budget and stick to it. Make sure that all your usual expenses are accounted for so that you do not fall behind on bill paying. If you’re hosting a party or family gathering, create a menu to help you stay organized and make grocery shopping easier.

Get creative with gift giving. Make chore coupon books or personal gift certificates that focus on creatively giving of yourself to family and friends.                     Give homemade treats from your kitchen. They’re low-budget and still show someone you care during the gift-giving season.

          Rethink Family Traditions. About five years ago, my family decided to cut back on gift giving, especially with extended family. We wanted to invest more in the experience of gathering and enjoying each other’s company rather than adding to the list of gifts we needed to buy. This lessened the pressure of our preparations.

          While it can be tough to change traditions, it’s worth taking time to see if they are still fun for everyone or if they are causing stress. Maybe it’s just a matter of exploring how you can get a similar experience with less effort.

          Maintain healthy habits. The holidays can sabotage our healthy habits, but if we make a commitment to stick with them, we don’t have to start over after the holidays are over. Eat healthy snacks like fresh fruit or vegetables to fill up before a dinner party or celebration where you may be tempted to indulge in unhealthy foods. Try not to skip workouts because exercise helps relieve stress. Make space for some healthy activity like walking or do something active with the whole family. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night and don’t let your wake-up time and bedtime get too far off your regular schedule.

          Sing a song. Put on holiday music and sing as you decorate or clean the house. Singing moves musical vibrations through our bodies which affects our emotions and creates feelings of pleasure.

          Be realistic. We often have high expectations for ourselves and feel upset when our celebrations don’t live up to expectations. Sometimes things may not go exactly as planned, and that’s OK. Get comfortable with the idea that you don’t have to do everything and everything doesn’t have to be perfect.

          As the Grinch discovers in the Dr. Seuss story, Christmas still comes, even without all the trimmings.

Laurie Sidle is an Ohio State University Extension Family and Consumer Sciences and 4-H program assistant and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or
This article was previously published in The Daily Record.