How To Have A Stress Free Christmas
As the holidays draw near, many consider it “the most wonderful time of the year” (I personally think that’s back to school time…but I digress). For others, it’s the most stressful time of the year. Gift giving, family get-togethers, holiday parties, decorating, cooking, cleaning…oh my.
Holiday stress can cause anxiety, irritability, headaches, sadness…and that’s just dinner with Uncle Walter and Aunt Matilda! But in all seriousness, stress isn’t something to be taken lightly. There are ways to ensure this holiday season, you reduce and avoid as much stress as possible, and actually enjoy yourself! Here’s tips on how to have a stress free Christmas!
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Start Planning Early
Take a few hours early in the season and start thinking about everything. Brainstorm all the things you want to see/do/eat over the holidays…now cut that list in half. Make important traditions a priority, but remember that families grow and change over time. You might just discover new traditions that mean more to you and your family now.
Look at your schedule ahead of time…is there extra stuff going on at work, Christmas concerts or holiday plays at school? What about activities and appointments. Mark everything down and start looking at where the busy times will increase the stress.
Keep to your routines as much as possible, especially if you have young kids. And try to stick to meal schedules, or make sure you have snacks packed in case dinners run late, or you’re doing a lot of travelling. Have your everyday weekly meal plans in place, make freezer meals ahead so you’re not stuck at 5:00 wondering what to make for dinner.
Make a Budget and Stick To It
The holidays can be expensive, no doubt about it! Buying gifts for family and friends, holiday parties, even the groceries for dinners start adding up quickly. It can be super tempting to overspend, but when those bills start arriving in January, you might regret it.
If funds are tight, there are ways you can stretch that budget. Consider reducing who you buy for, suggest siblings with kids only buy for the kids, or draw names from a hat and buy only for that person. Save up your points programs and cash in at the holidays. I have a cash back credit card, and that is my budget for my main gift buying. Drug store points get saved all year for stocking stuffers. Any extra grocery store points I like to use to make a cash donation to the local Food Bank.
Consider giving gifts of experiences instead of things. Get crafty and make homemade gifts, or even just give your time to a loved one. Often those gifts mean so much more than anything you can buy in a store.
Shop Early, and Online
Shop early and be done before the time pressure gets intense and you’re tempted to start panic buying. Keep receipts in case junior changes his mind at the last minute on what he wants from Santa. You can always return items after the holidays.
Try shopping online for gifts, especially ones with free delivery, eg. Amazon, Walmart, even your fav retailer like Lego, or clothing companies Under Armour, etc. Saves you the stress of having to fight crowded shopping malls, finding parking, and carrying a million shopping bags!
If you love cooking and baking, go for it, but if even the thought of what to bring for the cookie exchange or holiday potluck is stressing you out, don’t be embarrassed to buy. The in-store bakery at your local grocery store probably has holiday themed cookies. Costco has awesome ready to go appetizers like egg rolls, salads, etc.
If you’re hosting Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, ask for help. Delegate dishes to each person/family coming, even down to the turkey if it’s easier.
Speaking of eating, try not to overindulge. Make a plan in October to start or keep eating healthy, so you have a jump on the holiday goodies, make and bake for others! Drink lots of water, stay hydrated.
Let Go of Perfection
Particularly if you are hosting, let go of perfection. The house doesn’t have to be perfect. No one is looking at the baseboards in your master bedroom over Christmas dinner. (If they are, you have some seriously whacked out guests, but that’s their problem, not yours!) Stick to the high traffic areas like kitchens, bathrooms, living rooms, and make sure they are clean and tidy, then forget the rest until after New Years.
Schedule in some down time, especially before and after big holiday parties, dinners and the big days. Plan to go for a winter stroll with your family, complete with travel mugs of hot chocolate. Schedule quiet time where everyone can enjoy their gifts of books, puzzles, building Lego. After the guests have gone home and the kids are in bed, just sit in front of the tree and enjoy the quiet.
Enjoy the Holidays
In the midst of all the chaos and busy-ness, try and remember what the holiday season is all about. Whatever you celebrate, whether religion or tradition reigns, the holidays are about enjoying time with friends, family and loved ones. Don’t get so caught up in preparations and presents that you forget to notice the magic. Relax, and remember to make memories.
Got some ideas for how to have a stress free Christmas? Leave a comment below and let me know!
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