It's the weekend before Christmas and it's obvious Hudson Valley residence are scrambling to finish up their prep. You may have noticed Route 9 from Poughkeepsie to Wappingers becoming a gridlocked version of an already congested artery through Dutchess County. That is because too many people wait way too long to shop.

Gift giving should not be as stressful as it is but when you combine the pressure of finding the perfect gift with congested traffic, stress builds up fast. You can become a ticking time bomb and may find yourself yelling at a total stranger for getting the only available parking spot.

Try creating a plan for next year. Maybe start thinking about your Christmas card list in September. Even making a list of everyone you'd like to give a gift to is a good place to start. It might seem trivial or even annoying to start thinking about your holiday plan in the early fall but do yourself a favor and consider it. If you avoid stress triggers you might actually enjoy the holiday season even more!