o Plan Ahead: As always, planning ahead is key. Book your travel now (as some holiday flights are already booked) and put together a week-by-week checklist to prepare for your adventure.
o Weather: Start checking the weather for your destination up to 10 days before. Make a packing list accordingly.
o Luggage: Go ahead and check luggage – free your hands and your back. With the new security regulations, every piece of luggage on a flight has to be matched with a flying customer, minimizing the chances of lost luggage.
o Plan in advance! Start shopping now and/or set aside certain days for your gift shopping.
o Lists: Make a list of all the people you need to buy for and jot down a few gift ideas for each. Follow your list when shopping.
o Budgets: Set a budget and stick to it. You may want to set a budget per person or per family.
o Give the gift of GIVING: Select a charity and give gifts or your time in someone else’s name. Write that person a note or a letter and wrap it up as their gift for the holidays. It will evoke the warm holiday spirit in both of you.
o Stay Positive: While holiday family time can be a love/hate scenario, try and focus on the positives and keep the mood light.
o Set Schedules: Schedule your family time in advance and be clear with your family about when you are arriving/leaving – therefore managing expectations. For married families, institute a rotation schedule that you follow year-to-year. This way no feelings are hurt and everyone knows what to expect.
o Take Time: Make time for yourself or your own family each day. This gives everyone the down time needed to survive.
o When all else fails, Grin and Bear It: After all, it is only for a limited time.
o Stay Organized: The best way to avoid holiday stress is to plan and be organized.
o Manage your expectations: Don’t set the bar too high. Remember: the holidays are about family, friends and good times together. They are not about being perfect or giving the perfect gift!
o Make time for yourself: Spend a good amount of time relaxing (not reading cases or researching jobs). After all, in January the HBS grind starts all over again.
o Be physically active: Often, students’ busy holiday schedules bump them off their exercise routines. Exercise, especially aerobic activities (like brisk walking, jogging, bicycling, roller blading, and swimming) can help relieve stress as well as burn up extra calories from holiday eating.
o Take the edge off your hunger before a party: Feeling hungry can sabotage even the strongest willpower, so eat a small, low-fat snack, such as fruit or a bagel, before you head out the door. This will help you avoid rushing to the buffet table when you arrive at a party. While you’re there, take time to greet people you know – conversation is calorie free!
o Make just one trip to the party buffet: And be selective! Choose only the foods you really want to eat and keep portions small. Often just a taste satisfies a craving or curiosity. Also, move your socializing away from the buffet table, this will eliminate unconscious nibbling.
o Enjoy good friends and family: Although food can be a big part of the season, it doesn’t have to be the focus. Holidays are a time to reunite with good friends and family, to share laughter and cheer, to celebrate and to give thanks. Focus more on these other holiday pleasures, in addition to the tastes of holiday foods. The important thing to remember is balance and moderation. It’s OK to eat too much once in a while. Just relax, enjoy the holidays, and remember what the season is all about.