Christmas is traditionally a time of year when we enjoy ourselves, we let our hair down and are a little more relaxed. At least that’s the way it’s meant to be. For a lot of people however, it’s a stressful time of year.There’s the shopping to do, there’s the list of cards for all the family; god forbid we don’t send Aunt Betty a card, there’s the dinner to buy, there’s work to do, there’s family to contact, there’s a hundred and one things to do.
Well here is a list of things you can do to relax and enjoy yourself a little more:
- Set A budget
It’s easy to get carried away buying Christmas presents. Set a budget and stick to it.
- Make A List
Make a list of every single person you need to buy a present for. Keep it safe and tick off as you buy.
- Write A little A Day
From now until maybe the 14th December, write your cards out, maybe 5 per day. No need to stress about getting all of them done at the same time.
- Address labels
Get someone to put all your names and addresses from your address book into a spreadsheet and then print off your labels. You can pay your son, daughter, niece or nephew to do this for you.
- Don’t Send Out of Guilt
If you are sending cards or presents out of guilt, don’t. Don’t just send because you feel obliged to, cut out this practice and send who you want to send to.
- Wrap Presents The Same Night
As you buy your presents make it a practice to wrap them the same night. This way you will not feel overwhelmed at having to wrap them all at the same time.
- Enroll The Kids Into Wrapping
Kids love Christmas so why not get them involved more into helping you do the tedious time consuming part of Christmas like wrapping the presents.
- Fill Up Your Freezer Now
There’s always specials on this time of year but beware as the prices will probably go up again just before Christmas.
- Get Into The Christmas Spirit
It can be quite stressful but remembering that Christmas is a fun time for everyone, or should be, so get into the spirit and plays Christmas CDs, go to Panto’s, or see the Christmas nativity.
- Make Homemade Gifts
Making homemade gifts can be a great way to personalize your presents and save you a bit of money. If you’re at all arty or can cook why not make presents this year.
- Shop Online
This is a great way to take the stress out of shopping. If you can buy all the gifts from one online store so much the better.
- Look At Comparison Sites Before Purchasing
When you have decided on a present to buy for someone why not check out the comparison sites to see if you can get it cheaper elsewhere online.
- Shop Early on in the Day
There’s nothing worse shopping when it is extremely crowded and shoppers are getting irate because it’s too busy.
- Don’t lose your head With relatives
Remember the Christmas holidays only last for a few days so don’t risk falling out with the whole family because of 1 person you don’t like.
- Buy A Real Tree
You can replant your Christmas tree in your garden or give it away when the holiday season is over.
- Take Some Time Out
You don’t have to attend every single Christmas family event. Take a night off to spend alone or just with the family.
- Take A deep Breath
Remember what Christmas is all about and take a deep breath in times of stress and let it all out and wash over you.
- Get More Sleep
As you will be more busy than usual it’s better to get as much sleep as possible so you will have the energy to do everything.
- Allow Mess
Christmas for kids is not a tidy affair it’s all about letting go so don’t worry too much about the mess. People visiting will expect mess if you have kids. Let kids be kids for the day.
- Let them know You’re stressed
Don’t take everything on board yourself. Let other members of the family know you are ready to blow a gasket and ask for help.
- It’s okay to Say No
You don’t need to say yes to every request made of you at Christmas time, or any other time for that matter. Learn to diplomatically say no; there’s only so many nativities you can go to.
- Remember the good times
If Christmas is a sad time for you because loved ones are no longer with you, try and remember the good times and ask yourself how they would celebrate.
- Hire a cook
There are lots of places where you can order your Christmas dinner, fully prepared and you pick it up two days before Christmas. Why have all the stress of doing everything yourself.
- Stay away from the big shopping malls
You’ll only come home in a bad mood ready to kill someone as you have been elbowed so many times by people rushing to buy presents. Shop when it’s quieter or online.
- Switch the TV off
The TV can often be the source of entertainment for the Christmas holidays. Try something different like board games, karaoke, family Xbox or Playstation games.
- Avoid too much alcohol
Yes this is a time to let your hair down but overdoing it on the alcohol can lead you to do things you wouldn’t normally do.
- No Need to spend the same amount
My mother always spend the exact same amount on each grandchild no matter how much presents there are. there’s no need to do this. It doesn’t mean you love one more than the other.
- Don’t overfill your food cupboards
there’s no need to stock up for the Christmas holidays, the shops are only closed for 1 day or two.
- Let things go wrong
Christmas doesn’t have to be spot on perfect. things will go wrong, laugh about it and get on with it.
- Make it magical
Put the fun back into Christmas for the kids and for yourself. It’s tradition in our house that the biggest present is always turned into a treasure hunt. Make games up, sing, be silly just let go and be yourself for a full day and enjoy it.
- Use post it notes
If you have a board in your kitchen write post it notes of things to do and you as you do them transfer them to another ‘done’ board.
- Clean out the freezer
Unless you have a frost free freezer it’s a good idea to clean out the freezer to make as much room as possible for food.
- Clear the cupboards
It’s also a good idea to clean out the cupboards of all food you have used including: tinned foods, packet foods, and sauces.
- Give the house a good cleaning before Christmas
This way there won’t be so much work to do after all the festivities are over and you can relax more.
- Clean sheets and duvets
If you are having guests over make sure you have enough bed linen and make sure it all cleaned befoehand.
- Buy in bulk
If you buy for teachers, colleagues, group members etc buy in bulk to avoid having to shop around.
- Ignore the ones who’ve done it all
When you feel particularly stressed, don’t tell the super-organized person as they will make you feel worse. These are the people who have all their presents, cards, food etc in at the end of August and you feel a smack in the mouth might wipe the smug grin off their face.
- Sing loudly
I love singing at the best of times but at Christmas it’s a must to sing loudly and more annoying, there’s nothing better than annoying the family with loud singing.
- Be unique
Buying gifts for loved ones is often a dull affair. Try and listen throughout the year for what he or she would really like and put some thought into present buying for your spouse.
- Have a rest day
Once you have everything prepared, presents bought and wrapped, cards written and sent, invitations written and sent etc have a complete day of rest, you deserve it.
- Clear the air
If you’ve had a disagreement with someone and they are coming round for Christmas, try and clear the air before they come round.
- Let everyone be themselves
Yes it’s annoying to have Uncle Bert dribbling in the corner, drunk and half asleep. Let it be and don’t stress yourself, it’s only for the day.
- Invite someone who is alone
If you are having a big Christmas dinner with family members, why not invite someone you know will be on their own.
- Make sure you have a camera
It’s important to capture every Christmas with photos or a camcorder. You may not think it is important just now but in years to come it will bring back so many happy memories for you to enjoy.
- Be mindful of pets
Your pet can get very confused with all the toing and froing of Christmas planning so be mindful to pay them some more attention than usual.
- Stock up on medication
If you have a health condition make sure you have enough medication to last you through the holidays as your doctor may be vacationing for a prolonged period.
- Make sure you have a good online protection software
With many people turning to the net for Christmas shopping, it’s extremely important to have online protection software installed on your computer.
- Wear sensible shoes
When you’re visiting people at Christmas and it’s bad weather,♠ wear sensible shoes in order to minimize the risk of slipping or falling.
- Mind your back
Christmas shopping can be a nightmare for your back. Try and shop more online or make more trips so you are not carrying a mountain full of bags in one go.
- Check the weather when hanging lights
If you decorate your home outside check the weather forecast for the days to avoid any dangers.
- Never mind the Jones’
Christmas is all about joy, fun and happiness it’s not about who has the best house lights, or the biggest garden tree or best garden decorations.
- Keep receipts
Always keep your Christmas receipts in a special box. This will mean you can take duplicate gifts back or faulty gifts back and get them exchanged.
- Celebrate the real meaning
Christmas is a time for giving and celebrating and being grateful. Why not visit a hostel with the family to give some of your time before Christmas day.
- Encourage children to get involved
When you explain the importance of Christmas through your actions the children will want to get involved as well. Always make it a fun time if you have kids.
- Get your pets used to your decorations
If you have a pet who has never celebrated Christmas with you, introduce the tree a week early to let them get used to it.
- Leave your light hooks up
If you know you will be decorating the outside of the house every year why not leave the light hooks up so you don’t have to do it year after year in the freezing cold.
- Find out the return policies
A lot of gifts cannot be returned after a certain number of days; find this out before purchasing if you are afraid the person might not like it or it will not fit them.
- Use coupon sites
This is a growth area online and there are thousands of coupon sites offering printable coupons to get discounts off from your favorite stores.
- Turn out the lights
Remember to turn all your Christmas lights out at night before going to bed.
- Shop on eBay
There are some fantastic bargains to be had from eBay. If you are stuck for an idea, have a browse and see what there is.
- Buy cards straight after Christmas
If you want to save some money on cards, buy them straight after Christmas as the card shops are looking to get rid of their stock. You will often get great deals for next year.
- Tire out the pets
To stop your pet from getting overexcited, spend a little more time playing around with them and tiring them out so they can relax more.
- Leave the kids at home
If you are going shopping for presents there’s nothing worse for a child than having to trail round the shops. Try and organize a baby sitter for a day to let you get your shopping done.
- Free events before Christmas
Lots of children are off on holiday and it can be a strain to keep them entertained. Take them to free events such as the turning on of Christmas lights, the events in the local square, get the kids to write a letter to Santa, go a walk in the local big park.
- Place your order now
If you know what you Christmas menu will be i.e. Turkey, go to your local butcher, or food shop and place your order just now and pick it up nearer the time.
- Get plenty of batteries in
A lot of presents need batteries and it’s something we often forget. Make sure you have lots of batteries in stock.
- Cash in your rewards
If you get rewards from your various stores cash them in at Christmas and use them up. It may not be much but every little helps.
- Buy your crackers after Christmas
Buy luxury crackers after Christmas and get a really good price, then store them away for next year.
- Make your own gift tags
Old Christmas cards are a great way to do this. Get your pinking shears out and make your own tags.
- Fill the tank up
If you are going visiting at Christmas make sure you have enough fuel as a lot of gas stations will be closed.
- Stocking fillers
You can stock up on these throughout the year and they soon add up to a sizeable amount of gifts.
- Remember overseas relatives
Remember to get all your overseas parcels sent well before Christmas for them to get there in plenty of time.
- Post overseas cards
Post all your overseas cards in plenty of time for them to arrive by Christmas.
- Tiring the kids out
We have a tradition of going for a meal and then to see a movie on Christmas Eve. This keeps them occupied and tires them out so they get a good sleep and are not too excited on Christmas Eve.
- Watch Christmas movies
Have a Christmas movie day to get the whole family in the spirit of Christmas.
- Remember the table decoration
If you are having guests over remember to get in your Christmas table decorations well in advance.
- Buy for the less fortunate
All year round should a time for thinking about those less fortunate but at this time of year it seems to be more important. Buy a gift for those less fortunate.
- Cue the DJ
Make sure you have a stock of CDs and music for Christmas so you’re not hunting around on the day for them.
- Pay all your bills before Christmas
If you can do this it will save you the stress of worrying about the money situation.
- Prepare your thank you cards in advance
Write out all your thank you cards before Christmas so there’s no need to worry about them after Christmas and you can relax a little more.
- Do some more walking
Christmas is a time for overindulging in everything including food and drink. Get a little more exercise by going out for a long walk.
- Pack the camera
If you’re going visiting remember to take the camera; it’s often easy to forget in the hustle and bustle of getting packed.
- Time the present opening
Kids get so many presents at Christmas that they don’t know who is buying for them. Don’t let them rip all the paper off every single one, let them read the label first, open them, and give them time to enjoy them.
- Give your guest a job
If things get a little out of control and you are having trouble with a family member give them a job to do to get them out of the way.
- Get some oxygen
Even if it’s freezing cold, get everyone out of the house for 5 or 10 minutes. A Christmas house can become overheated and overcrowded and getting everyone out for the house for 5 minutes in the cold will wake everybody up and re-ignite the party.
- Emergency gifts
Wrap up a few boxes of chocolates to give as gifts for unexpected visitors.
- Declutter the house
Decluttering helps to de-clutter the mind and if you do it a few weeks before Christmas you will feel a lot more relaxed.
- If you are alone
I’ve spent a few Christmases alone and it’s not a good feeling. However, don’t allow others to feel sorry for you. Create a Christmas atmosphere, watch movies all day, and relax and treat yourself to a few goodies.
- Use smaller plates
If you want to cut down on the amount you eat, trick the brain and use a smaller plate.
- Use taller glasses
This is another trick to help fool the brain into thinking you are drinking more than you are and it helps reduce the amount of alcohol your drink.
- Don’t wrap it, bag it
Instead of spending hours wrapping all your Christmas gifts why not bag the from the great bags you get from the dollar store.
- Pick a party theme
If you have a Christmas party every year pick a theme and send out invitations in that theme.
- Don’t overload extension cords
Think about safety at Christmas and don’t overload your extension cords.
- Clean out the cooker
Make sure you cooker it cleaned before Christmas. It will be getting used a lot and cleaning it before hand will help with the cleaning afterwards.
- Recycle the leftovers
You can use the leftover turkey for making sandwiches for boxing day.
- Buy rechargeable batteries
Although they might cost a little more it will save you money in the long run.
- Go green and ditch the plastic
Everyone’s going green these days. You can do your bit buy buying a bag for shopping and not use the stores plastic bags.
- Keep your pets away from the noise
If you can help it keep your pets away from the main party as the bangers, crackers and other noises can scare them.
- Take a step back
I might be a little sad but I always take a step back when I see everyone enjoying themselves and remind myself of how lucky I am, and get a little tearful (yes, I’m a man but real men cry too!)
- Enjoy yourself
It’s what it’s all about.
|Written on 12/08/2009 (republished in 12/2010) by Steven Aitchison. Steven is the Author of Change Your Thoughts and works as an alcohol and drugs counselor. He has a BSc in Psychology and has a passion for studying belief formation, thought processes and values and principles.||Photo Credit: Randy Son of Robert|