At this time of year, it is easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed, caught up in the pressure to create the perfect Christmas. There are cards to write, presents to wrap, trees to decorate – so much to do and so little time. Sometimes we need to stop and remember that it’s just one day and Christmas can be magical without stressing about having to make it perfect. Here are some of the things I’ve learned over the years about how to take the stress out of Christmas.
1) What is really important to you and your family?
Maybe the thing that you love most about Christmas is the amazing food, or finding the perfect gift, or just spending time with family. Whatever it is that you love, that’s the main thing to focus on. For me, it’s all about being with my family on Christmas Day. I want to be able to completely focus on time with them, and not spend half the day in the kitchen, and so my next tip makes a huge difference to my stress levels.
2) Buy pre-prepared food
Roast potatoes, roast parsnips, pre-chopped veg, ready-made gravy and a turkey crown. It might not be quite as nice as being prepared and cooked from scratch but it’s a lot quicker and easier and can just be popped into the oven with minimum fuss. It means that even hubby (who’s not exactly known for his culinary skills) is able to help with the dinner and frees me up to spend time with the children instead.
3) Don’t get bogged down by the to-do list
Write a to-do list but divide it into ‘essential’, ‘desirable’ and ‘if time’ – that way you can sort out what you actually need to focus on without getting feeling overwhelmed by a list of tasks that probably aren’t all necessary anyway.
4) Donate to charity instead of sending Christmas cards
Do you really need to send cards to everyone you’ve ever known? Whilst it is lovely to get lots of cards in the post, they all end up in the recycling come January. Cutting down your card list and donating the money you save to charity instead saves a lot of time and also means you’re doing something to help others and the planet.
5) Budget wisely and don’t overspend
Christmas might be magical but the huge credit card bill in January definitely is not. I try and put some money aside each month throughout the year to help spread the cost of Christmas, which makes a big difference come December. Making a list of what presents to buy also helps reduce the temptation to overspend. If you’re organised and manage to get it done early, you might also be able to get some items when they’re on offer.
6) Don’t try to do it all
There are so many events to attend at this time of year – parties, carol services, switching on of Christmas lights, visits to Santa, visits to family etc. It can feel like every moment of December is accounted for long before December actually starts! Do you really need to go to everything? Focus on the ones that you really need or want to do and free up some space in your diary. Which brings me to my final tip…
7) Make time to relax
If you’ve managed to clear some time in your calendar, make sure you earmark some of it for time out. Sit on the sofa and watch a film, snuggle up with the kids and read some stories together, or get an early night. It’s no good getting all those tasks ticked off if you just end up exhausted and frazzled on Christmas morning.
Hope these tips help make the festive season less stressful for you and if you have any others which you find help take the stress out of Christmas, please do share them in the comments below.