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Ahhh the magic of Christmas.
Well, except if you’re the one in charge of making the magic happen and are already maxed out juggling work and parenting and a hundred and one other things.
Then the magic can feel more like a curse.
So, if you’ve already got that slight feeling of dread about arriving in a strung-out crumpled heap on Christmas morning, only to find the turkey hasn’t defrosted and your kids have unwrapped all their gifts from Santa by 6:01 am and are looking expectantly at you for the next big hit of Christmas excitement, you might find my list of simple stress-reducing tips come in useful.
These tips are guaranteed to not only help you get through Christmas but actually stand a chance of enjoying it.
So read on!
HOW TO MAKE CHRISTMAS LESS STRESSFUL
It’s taken me planning and hosting quite a few Christmases to work out how to arrive at Christmas day feeling relatively fresh and ready to enjoy the day.
It’s also taken me time to work out how to get to the end of Christmas day itself without it feeling like it’s all gone by in the blink of an eye.
Don’t get me wrong, I love hosting Christmas, having lots of family over and making it special for everyone. But it takes a LOT to plan and host Christmas.
If you’ve struggled in the past and are currently at dread ground zero, here are some tips that will help you reduce your stress levels this coming Christmas.
11 WAYS TO REDUCE STRESS AT CHRISTMAS
1. DITCH THE IDEA OF THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS
This is possibly the single most important thing you can do to reduce your stress levels over Christmas!
Seriously! There is SO. MUCH. PRESSURE. to have the most magical, most picture-perfect Christmas ever. Every. Darned. Year.
You end up putting huge pressure on yourself to live up to the hype and expectations.
But what is a perfect Christmas?
Surely a ‘perfect’ Christmas is one where everyone gets to enjoy themselves, relax and create happy memories together. Including YOU!
The upside here is that it is often it’s the simple things that provide these magic memory-making moments, not the ones that take an age to plan and a huge chunk of cash to provide.
So forget about expensive trips to the theatre if those trips put everyone under lots of pressure to enjoy themselves.
Gathering your household together to watch a classic Christmas movie with some mulled wine and Christmassy snacks can be a much more relaxed way to spend some quality time together.
2. SET BOUNDARIES
Boundaries are essential at this time of year. Don’t be kajoled into hosting a giant family Christmas if you really don’t have the time or energy to plan it.
Don’t feel that you have to invite warring relatives who could potentially turn Christmas day into their own personal battleground.
I know it can be easier said than done, especially when it comes to family, but this is where forethought and planning really come into play.
3. USE A CHRISTMAS PLANNER
I know, I know.
This is such a standard-issue tip!
But you can’t escape the fact that it’s true!
Taking some time to sit down and create a plan for everything you need to do, really will help keep your stress levels down.
There are several ways to draw up your plan. The simplest is to use a google sheet, excel document or whatever you usually use to make plans. You can use my free printable Christmas to-do list to work out what you need to put on your list.
You can also use my big list of Christmas planning tips to ensure that you have the most-organised and therefore least stressful run-up to Christmas ever.
4. SET A BUDGET
There’s nothing worse than worrying your way through Christmas about an incoming gigantic credit card bill.
So draw up a Christmas spending budget and stick to it.
Split the budget between the main spending areas of gifts, food and decor.
If you’ve got a budget for your Christmas spending, you’ve got a plan to manage your money and it’s one less thing to get stressed about.
A budget can also make decision making so much easier.
If you have the budget you know you can go for it, if you don’t have the money in the budget, that’s your decision made, it’s a NO!
If you happen to be reading this post way ahead of the start of the next Christmas, it is well worth creating a monthly savings pot to help cover your Christmas budget.
It makes it so much less painful when you have to fork out for the extra-large credit card bill come January.
5. DON’T ACCEPT EVERY INVITE
It can be lovely to be showered with invites for Christmas parties and get-togethers.
There can also be pressure to accept certain invites, especially when family politics come into play or (the of-dreaded) work networking.
As a result, you can end up feeling massively stressed about having to dart here, there and everywhere in the run-up to Christmas.
Particularly if you are also juggling work, family and planning to host Christmas itself.
So be realistic. Sit down and work out when and where you can commit to accepting an invite and say a gracious ‘thank you but no thank you’ to those invites you don’t feel you can accept.
6. BUILD DOWNTIME INTO THE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY SEASON
This goes hand in hand with creating those boundaries and not saying yes to every invite. You are not Superwoman, no-one is Superwoman.
Give yourself time to breathe, both in the run-up to Christmas and also during the Christmas holiday break.
It can be easier said than done in the run-up to Christmas.
Everyone wants everything done before Christmas.
But even just planning in time for a relaxing bath one weekday evening or a couple of hours to do something totally unrelated to Christmas over the weekend can help you refuel and lower your stress levels.
Make use of the time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to recharge your batteries. Plan at least a couple of days to just. do. nothing.
It’s good for the soul!
Play board games, snuggle up and watch family movies.
Reconnect with your family before the start of the new year.
7. SHARE RESPONSIBILITY
Just because you’ve taken the lead with Christmas planning it doesn’t mean you have do everything yourself.
Make like you’re the CEO of Christmas. You come up with the strategy and then share out responsibility amongst all capable adults and older children in the household.
In fact, for Christmas day itself you can also divide up responsibility for the food between all attending adults.
This is actually a really lovely way of creating a positive community spirit for the day itself.
In the past I’ve divided the Christmas food so that different households joining us for Christmas day are responsible for:
- Starters and appetisers
- The main course – we always do this, not sure there’s a way to avoid it 😉
- Christmas pudding and dessert
- Wine and soft drinks to accompany Christmas dinner
8. KEEP YOUR CHRISTMAS MEAL MENU SIMPLE
Yes, there are some amazing feasts made for Christmas day.
But really, the point of Christmas day isn’t to show off your culinary prowess, it’s to have everyone enjoy the day and spending time together.
I’m not suggesting serving up a Christmas themed pizza and having done with it!
But there’s a lot to be said for keeping your Christmas day menu SIMPLE.
Nobody needs three kinds of potatoes on their Christmas dinner plate.
Focus on buying the best quality produce and making sure that every dish complements the others on the menu.
Want to have your life made super easy?
Take a look at my Easy Christmas Dinner Menu for a rundown of every dish you need to make a super simple, but mouthwateringly delicious Christmas dinner.
You can also print out a copy of my free Christmas Grocery List and Meal Planner template.
9. LIMIT YOUR TIME ON SOCIAL MEDIA
This is for two reasons.
Firstly, you want to be using your time wisely, it is at a premium in the run-up to Christmas. Mindless scrolling isn’t using your time wisely.
Secondly, everyone posting pictures on Instagram will be seemingly doing Christmas better than you.
Their decor will look better, the parties they attend will look more glamourous, the outfits they are wearing will look more catwalk-ready.
You do not need this kind of drain on your mental and emotional wellbeing!!
10. CUT BACK ON YOUR CHRISTMAS CARD LIST
Hands up who loves writing and sending Christmas cards?
No, me neither!
Clearly there are always going to be some family members and assorted others who it’s essential to send an actual card to.
But Christmas card habits are starting to change and it’s no longer necessary to send cards to absolutely everyone you know – if you don’t want to.
Digital cards are a great way of covering off friends who won’t mind (and will actually be grateful for) not receiving a card.
It’s actually much better for the environment to cut down on card sending anyway, so if you have any kind of guilt, think of it this way!!
Another idea is to send out a blanket email to say that you have donated to charity the equivalent that you would normally spend on cards.
Obvs. it goes without saying that you must actually make that donation!
11. DONATE TO CHARITY
One great way to reduce your stress levels in the run-up to Christmas is to take a moment to make a donation – however big or small you can afford – to a charity for people who are less fortunate than you and your family.
It’s a great way to take a reality check, count your blessings and realise that there’s really no point getting stressed over something that you are actually very lucky to be taking part in – Christmas with your family.
We always make a donation to Crisis At Christmas.
Crisis is a charity that supports the homeless and Crisis At Christmas ensures that as many homeless people in London as possible are looked after over the Christmas period.
I really hope that some of these ideas will help you to have a more relaxed and less stressful time planning and hosting Christmas.
Please do share any tips you have below.
Luci is the founder of Mums Make Lists (Est. 2011). Over the last decade or so, she has used her experience as a mum to create useful guides to organising family life. During that time, she has found the most joy in creating lists of ideas and inspiration to make it easier for busy parents to plan and host kids’ parties and find great gifts. Read more.