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Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Holiday | 2 comments

Beat Holiday Stress with a “Holidate”

Despite their joyous underpinnings, the December holidays can feel like the most emotionally fraught time of the year.

You’re excited. You want things to be wonderful. Then why are you so tense? Because daily life is busy enough and now you’re taking on extra chores, that’s why.

Decorating, shopping, attending school holiday programs, cooking special foods, wrapping gifts…the pressure to create a Pinterest-perfect celebration could make even Martha Stewart want to scream, “Ho-ho-NO!”

Here’s a simple solution: a “Holidate.” Leave all the seasonal stress behind and sneak off with your spouse or sweetheart (or your BFF, if you’re single).


Keep an eye on the bottom line, since money is one of the biggest holiday stressors. Here are nine ways to take a break without breaking the bank.

1. Coupons are your friend. Use a coupon for a discounted dinner out. Or try something new and fun, such as whirlyball or laser tag. You’ll blow off steam, probably laugh a ton, and by the end of the evening you won’t have thought about candied glacé cherries even once.

2. Drop by an art gallery. Time your visit with the opening of a new show, if you can, for a chance to meet the artist — you might get snacks, too, or even wine. Looking at paintings, sculptures, fiber work or other forms of art will be a welcome change from all the red and green you’ve been seeing lately.

3. Invite people over. Stage a potluck. Watch a movie. Play board games. If your favorite girlfriends are dropping in, make it a DIY spa night. One rule only: There will be no mention of the holidays whatsoever!

4. Attend a reading. Keep an eye out for author events at your local bookstore, library or college. Hearing a writer talk about how he or she came to write the book can be entertaining and, maybe, inspirational. Maybe you’ve got a story to tell.

5. Look for free movies. Head to Gofobo, a site that publicizes advance movie screenings in nearly 150 U.S. and Canadian cities. Something might be playing in or near your town. Seeing it before everyone else will make you feel like such an insider.

6. Take a walk. Yep, a walk. With your feet. If you live in the city, go window-shopping; suburbanites and country folk can enjoy the stars, the neighbors’ holiday lights and the novelty of being outdoors after dark. Given how much time the average adult spends indoors, the fresh air is a nice change of pace. Have hot chocolate and cookies when you return, even if you live in a warm climate (just pretend you walked for miles through snow up to your waist).

7. Scope out free/cheap holiday events. A tree-lighting, a community choral concert, a college or high-school music department recital. Or stroll through a holiday bazaar, to enjoy the sight of someone else’s hard work (but leave your credit cards and money at home).

8. Light a fire. If you’re lucky enough to have a fireplace, crank it up. Put on some beautiful music, talk about things that happen the other 11 months of the year, or just be pleasantly mesmerized by the leaping flames.

9. Shop for someone you’ll never meet. Pick a name from the Angel Tree or any other holiday program. Carving a little money from your holiday budget will help you remember just how fortunate you are. Bonus: You get to play with some of the toys before you make your selection.

Donna Freedman writes about smart money tactics at Money Talks News and at her own site,


  1. Great advice, especially the free movies. Love the new word too. “Will you be my holidate?” (Enter mistletoe)

  2. We’re trying to get ourselves organized enough to start a game night. And if you host, you don’t even spend gas money!


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