A Stress-Free Holiday Season in 8 Books

Spoiler Alert: Thanksgiving is just three weeks away, and the Hallmark Channel has already launched its annual “Countdown to Christmas.” While some of you may be dancing with the sugarplums, others are channeling their inner Grinch. The holiday season affects each of us differently, and for many it’s a time of feeling anxious and overwhelmed. In honor of National Stress Awareness Day, I’ve identified eight common holiday stressors – and lined up a list of books that address each pain point to help even the most harried and humbug among us sail through the season stress-free. It's an early present from me to you. Keep calm and read on.



If you’re a first-time host, The Friendsgiving Handbook by Emily Stephenson provides enough holiday how-to to ease anyone’s at-home holiday entertaining anxiety And, if you lack the culinary creativity or vision to style a stunning buffet table, Maegan Brown has your back with Spectacular Spreads.


If you just can’t with holiday dinner table arguments over elections or current events, consult The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker for advice on healthy ways to navigate conversation controversy. You might even come around to concede that table talk about sex, politics, or religion can be a good thing.


If you’re an invited guest to multiple events and need inspired, yet affordable, hostess gifts, craft a heartfelt inscription of gratitude inside The People Who Love To Eat Are Always The Best People. Consider it your 2021 calling card.


If you find yourself constantly in motion and mentally and physically exhausted this time of year with shopping lists, endless to-do lists, event invites, hosting duties, and decorating – breathe, unclench your jaw, and take a few minutes to unwind and plan a more manageable and meaningful slate of activities with Beth Kempton’s Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Pro tip: Instead of fighting through the crowds on Black Friday, spend some time in nature. In Melanie Choukas-Bradley’s The Joy of Forest Bathing, you’ll learn about the benefits and bliss of disconnecting from the draining hustle and rejuvenating yourself in the beauty of the natural world. And, a #LocalLove bonus: If you’re in the Greater DC area, check out her website for guided walks through regional trails and parks.

If it has been a challenging year, and you’re feeling slightly withdrawn and not very festive, accept your emotions and don’t force yourself to people please or struggle to meet others’ expectations. Allow yourself the grace and space for healing. Snuggle up with a cozy blanket and a cup of tea, and find comfort in Wintering, The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May.


On the other hand, if your love of eating, imbibing, shopping, and party hopping leads to careless consumption, habitual over-indulging, and feeling regretful or unhealthy, don’t wait until January 1 to reset. Cultivate more mindfulness and nurture yourself in deeper and more fulfilling ways now. Insight Editions 90-day Mindfulness Journal is a guided intention-setting and reflection record. Just a few minutes of daily practice can help you recognize distractions and challenges set goals toward achieving more in-the-moment awareness and acting with more focus. I’ve been using the Self-Care edition since July1, and it has become a non-negotiable part of my morning routine.