CARY, N.C. — It’s the most wonderful time of the year, until we become buried in stress with to-do lists and mounting financial pressures due to high inflation.


What You Need To Know

Time-management expert Megan Sumrell has easy tips to avoid stress during the holiday season

Sumrell believes early planning, cooking and shopping can help

She wants to continue traditions


North Carolina mom and time-management expert Megan Sumrell has five easy tips to help avoid stress and save some money this holiday season.

It all starts with checking items off your holiday to-do list early, such as holiday baking.

“We actually start our holiday baking in July this year. I surprised [my daughter] Grace with a Christmas in July day,” Sumrell said.

They store their goodies in a freezer-safe bag and tuck them into a freezer drawer, ready for when the time calls for holiday sweets.

The same tip applies for holiday meals: Buying food and specialty items in advance can not only save money, but reduce stress for when demand rises for seasonal favorites in the grocery store.

“For a lot of people, they don't really think about shopping for their actual holiday meals early,” Sumrell said. “But, as you can see, we've already got a turkey. We've got it thawing here in the fridge. We got it quite a while ago while they were a lot less expensive.”

Tip No. 3 specifically targets the last-minute gift shopping stress: shop early and get gifts as you go.

“I'll just take the number of people, look at the number of weeks and figure out how many gifts a week do I need to get so that my holiday shopping is done.”

Sumrell usually has her holiday shopping done by Dec. 1 each year after gathering ideas for her loved ones throughout the year. She says you can save money by keeping an eye out for deals on Black Friday or various times before the holiday season begins.

That leads into tip No. 4: set up a budget and begin auto-drafting money into a gift account during the year. That way, you can avoid the financial stress of watching your usual funds diminish from an outlier holiday.

“It really makes for a much more stress-free month of December,” Sumrell said.

For her final tip: set aside time for meaningful traditions.

She grew up helping her mother set up handcrafted angels from around the world, a tradition she now does with her seventh-grade daughter, Grace.

Making time for meaningful moments is the primary reason Sumrell left her 20-year career in the tech industry about six years ago. She now helps others make time for precious moments through her time management podcast, YouTube channel and website.

Click here to check out some of her free time-management and planning materials.