Are you ready for a Stress-Free Holiday Season?

By Catherine Cassidy

OK. That might sound like an oxy-moron, but bear with me … it’s possible!!

Don’t hold this against me, but I rarely stress about the holidays. I think it mostly has to do with the fact that I love every aspect of it – getting together with family, dressing up for all the parties, buying gifts for my favorite people, etc.

So, since you might not have the same love (or you just have SO much on your plate), I want to share mine with you!

Top 3 Holiday Buzzkills and how to Overcome them …



Gift Shopping … with the masses

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: I strongly dislike shopping. I’m not a shopper AT ALL! Well, I don’t like it when I have to do it with everyone else and deal with the long lines, finding a parking spot and the crowds (not to mention here in LA at least, the traffic!).

So, I avoid all of that.

I only shop on a weekday or first thing in the morning on a weekend (IF I HAVE TO!). The optimal weekend time is 10-1. I know when stores and boutiques open and close and I take advantage of that. The chain stores usually open before the boutiques, so I plan accordingly.

(SIDENOTE: Thank you to my mom for instilling this shopping ethic. Though I fought getting up so early on a weekend when I was growing up, I thoroughly appreciate this awareness now.)

When I was at BCBG I was especially spoiled. I could get fantastic gifts for friends and family ridiculously discounted AND I never had to leave my office. I had knowledge of the entire line, how the sizing ran and could pick it up from the warehouse downstairs. Definitely a silver lining!

I shop online when possible. And I totally take advantage of those online sample sale sites. For a list and to sign up yourself all in one place, click here for my blog post on my favorites! Another resource I’ve used is because you can shop by personality … which definitely helps narrow down the selection.

Personally, I love gift giving because it’s an opportunity to give a thoughtful gift someone wouldn’t buy for themselves. Of course, the thoughtful part is where it can get tricky. If you’re really strapped for time, I’d recommend outsourcing it completely. U*styled can help with this as can your favorite salesperson at your preferred store. Call them ahead of your visit with a list of what you need and they can pull it all together for you BEFORE you get there. How cool is that?

Getting ready for the Bosses Holiday Party … with a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear!

Nothing is worse than building a pile of clothes that you don’t want to wear when you’ve got negative 5 minutes to get ready.

Avoid that completely by being prepared. Plan your outfits for your events in advance.

It sounds simple, but it’s not because that means setting aside an hour just to have fun playing with clothes. And if you’re a busy woman, there is always something else to do with that hour.

So, think of it in terms how many minutes late you’ll be to each event PLUS how many minutes it took you to get dressed. 20+20=40 … for ONE event! That’s almost an hour right there! Not to mention how much fun you have when you’re frustrated with NOTHING to wear … oh yea, that’s NOT fun!

Break it down and make it simple …

First, take an inventory of your basics … black pumps, nude pumps, black skirt, LBD, black pants, white blouse, etc.

Now, take an inventory of what could pass for evening and/or holiday … a jewel tone blouse, your sequin tank, your little purple dress, your leopard heels, all of your accessories (an easy way to add holiday sparkle to an outfit!), etc.

Finally, play with mixing and matching. Think outside of the box. Put together your outfits and even take a picture if that’s helpful for planning. Just have fun! Seriously, you will surprise yourself! And, I’d love for you to share a pic of your inspired masterpiece. :)

Or, enlist the help of an expert if you REALLY want to dress to impress this holiday season!

Family is FUN … or is it?

I love my family. I love my friends. They are incredibly important to me and I feel really lucky to have them all in my life. I know I’m pretty fortunate to have this. What family drama we might have is very little and more about us never really growing up (my brothers and I definitely still bicker and our dog, Aggie, still gets in the middle of it to break it up!).

This is mostly about stress relief and focusing on what you need.

Make sure you’re exercising. Even if it’s a 15 minute walk … something to relax and release stress. If you can fit in a hard run, a good weights session or some power yoga, even better!

Take some time for yourself. Indulge in a good book, meditate for 10-15 minutes or even just browse the internet. Whatever feels like a guilty pleasure that will recharge you quickly.

Don’t take it personally. Whatever family stuff comes up, don’t play into it. You’re only responsible for yourself and your actions and what YOU want to do. Simply taking a deep breath can be really helpful to calm you down when temperatures are rising.

Play a game! Get the family together focused on something else – a game, a movie, making dinner, etc. Just enjoy each others company.

Any additional tips are more than welcome. I’d love to share them with the U*styled community. If you’re an expert on any of these topics, please feel free to share and I’ll post on Facebook for you all! Happy Holidays!! xo

Taking leave of the Corporate Fashion Industry, Catherine Cassidy founded U*styled in 2008 to support busy women everywhere. YOU are our mission. U*styled is dedicated to empowering women and giving you the tools to discover the lifestyle you deserve through personal style. Her unique approach to Personal Styling and Brand Image has had her work across a broad range of industries and career stages including Real Estate, Finance, Consulting, Marketing, Advertising, Entertainment, Entrepreneurs and Celebrity Entrepreneurs.

Additional SMW Stylish Resources:

Inspired Style

6 Holiday Party Dresses to Help You Shine

Holiday Beauty Gifts Under $50