You’re nursing a fever, and it’s not because you caught a cold as soon as the temperatures dipped. As soon as you see the very first mistletoe of the season, you break out in a cold sweat for an entirely different reason. When the holidaysarrive, and you aren’t prepared, that achy feeling in your limbs can’t be blamed on the flu. That’s anxiety telling you you’re about to mess up the year’s biggest festivities.

It’s not that you don’t like the holidays or that you even give bad gifts. Usually the people who suffer the worst gift giving anxiety around the holidays are the ones who take their presents very seriously. You put such a high value on the thought behind your presents that you end up choking when it comes to the big day. If your anxiety is especially high, it doesn’t even help when the people on your listtells you not to worry.As anyone who’s been told to chill in the midst of panicking can tell you, this only make it worse!

If you’re tired of approaching the holidays as a bundle of nerves, follow this guide to getting a handle on the season so you can stop and enjoy the eggnog for once!

1. Get as specific as possible

Ever feel burdened by choice when you go about shopping for a gift? It’s actually a psychological phenomenon called the choice overload. The psychologist who coined the term, Barry Schwarts, describes it when the feeling of uncertainty over an option increases proportionately with the number of choices.

To eliminate some of the indecision you feel about your possible presents, leave behind vague ideas for specific plans. First, ask what your loved one is expecting out of the holiday. Communication is key in all parts of a relationship, so don’t skip this step before you go shopping. Second, narrow down on the theme of your presents this year.

2. Set a budget

Another way to limit your choices is to restrict the amount of money you spend on the holidays. Once, again, this is something you should discuss with the people on your list. Don’t let your money hang-ups prevent you from popping the question. You may feel awkward as you discuss your finances, but it won’t compete with the level of embarrassment you’ll feel once you realize you spent only half (or maybe even a third) of what others spent on you!

3. Brainstorm before you shop

Some of your friends are capable of winging everything they do in life and manage to come out successful. You, on the other hand, can’t, so don’t even try it. You need structure to flourish, so set aside some time to think about what the people on your list really want or what they’re most interested in. Think about things that are special to the both of you.

If you share a mutual love over movies, consider getting them a subscription to something like MoviePass. It’s a service that let’s you watch an unlimited number of movies at the theaters for just $10 a month. This is especially handy as if you plan on catching each of the Oscar nominated movies or Black Panther this February.

If you usually binge-watch your weekends away on your MacBooks (and who doesn’t when they make it so easy to blast through Stranger Things?), think about other services and accessories you can buy to create the ultimate viewing package, like a stereo system, MacBook skins, and another streaming subscription. If you shop right, you can even get your MacBook to match your style, so the two of you can binge in harmony.

This exercise is just a stepping stone for any of your mutual hobbies. Try concentrating on something the two of you do together, and extrapolate from there. You’ll probably land on something thoughtful involving minimal worry when you address your task with this kind of focus.

It won’t eliminate your anxiety all together, but these steps, when combined, may stop you from losing your mind this holiday season. If you’re tired of biting your nails to the quick each December, establish some clear rules that are easy to follow as you shop.

 

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