It’s hard to believe that Christmas is literally around the corner. Only 5 WEEKS until we are eating Christmas pudding, turkey, stuffing and enjoying extended family (we hope!!). There is no doubt, the holiday season is stressful and doesn’t always bring out the best in everyone. Our intentions are mostly good but there is always an inevitable situation that causes the scales to tip and stress takes centre stage.
Apparently, Christmas traditions are stated as being more stressful than minor law violations and the financial pressure can cause stress that is equated to the death of a close friend. Sounds ridiculous but we can all relate in some way. The time of the year we are meant to celebrate, to relax and enjoy one another seems to only live in the greeting cards we send to one another.
What can we do in these next few weeks to take the stress out of Christmas? I don’t have all the answers and I certainly haven’t done it right every year but I do know there are things we can do that can simplify and take the pressure off. I’ve pulled together a list that will hopefully help.
1. Set a budget and don’t feel guilty about sticking to it. There is still time to do your research and make online purchases that will get to you in time and will probably save some money.
2. Make a list of who you need and want to buy for. Within that list think of the person and what would be meaningful to them, sometimes it’s something small and almost seemingly insignificant that touches the heart. The other day my young friend was at the markets with her girlfriend and in a basket of stuff her girlfriend found an old hand beater and bought it. My young friend asked her friend why she bought the beaters and apparently her son-in-law’s father had commented about how he wished he had a pair of old beaters like his mother used when he was young. So, when she saw them, she picked them up and planned to give them to him for Christmas. She spent all of $2.00 on a gift that will not only be used but will be a reminder of the fact that he matters, their conversation was heard and someone really thought about him. All of that for just $2.00.
3. I’m not the best baker and I don’t fall into the category of ‘at-home-chef’ but some people are and sharing these taste sensations can not only be cost-effective but can make a huge difference to someone. Another idea of a gift from the heart.
4. For those of you who have little ones don’t break the bank. We all know that the joy of the wrapping paper and bows seems to bring more joy than the expensive toy that seemed like a must-have. Don’t feel guilty if you save a little money when they are young, they will be delighted to play in a box or scrunch the wrapping paper in their chubby little hands and you will get some of the best photos you can imagine. Trust me, we’ve all seen this and know it to be true.
Set a Plan in place
1. If you fail to plan then plan to fail. This statement is not only true at Christmas, it’s one that resonates throughout life and one that we can all be reminded of regularly. Make a plan with your family and clearly identify times and locations of where you need to be, parties you want to attend, guests you are planning to invite and from there go deeper and plan menus and even go as far as what you’re going to wear and take with you.
2. Expectations: This can take us off track in an instant. Have an open discussion with your partner and kids who are of an age that can absorb this kind of information and discuss everyone’s expectations of the holidays. Ask about what time people want to wake up? Do you have teenagers who would relish a sleep in? If so knowing this can help because you may have ideas of them helping you clear the deck or set a table. If everyone knows expectations then we can plan accordingly and we eliminate the need to mind read.
3. Get organised: Pull your calendar out and mark everything down. Use a digital calendar that you can share and also a traditional whiteboard or chalkboard if necessary. Keep an eye on each day and stay ahead of the demands.
4. Get your house in order and do a deep clean. Use these weeks to give the house a good clean and get everything in order so you are scrambling the week before Christmas.
5. Start buying your groceries and non-perishables now so you don’t have to do a big shop on December 23rd. This will also help with the budgeting.
These are just a few ideas that can help take the stress out of Christmas and hopefully help you enjoy the time together. I’ll share more in the coming weeks which will include how to deal with challenging in-laws and family members. Nothing like an awkward relationship to add to the stress of the season.
Remember to relax, breathe and when it all gets too much turn up the carols, pour yourself your favourite cup of tea, a glass of Christmas cheer and put your feet up because this too will pass.