collaborative guest post

It’s that most wonderful time of the year, when bells jingle, stars twinkle and treetops glisten. There is no doubt that Christmas is truly magical for most people. However, for some, Christmas can be tough. Some have bad associations of the festive period; others are painfully aware of absent friends. Some are alone, and some just find it too stressful. 

If you are in the latter category and you really want to enjoy Christmas, but you are just a little overwhelmed by the massive to-do list that never seems to go down, these tips to reduce your stress levels might just be the best Christmas gift that you ever receive.

 

Manage Expectations…  

Much of our Christmas stress comes from the pressure of meeting others’ expectations.

…the kids. When it comes to gifts, you really don’t have to break the bank. Tell them straight off that they are not going to get the latest mobile phone or games console; there is no harm in a white lie, saying that they are all sold out or you can just be honest and say that there isn’t enough money for that BUT they can save throughout the year and you will match fund whatever they manage to save. 

…family and friends. Ok, it does take some of the mystery out of buying Christmas gifts, but if the primary reason that you are buying a gift for someone else is because they will be buying a gift for you, why don’t you suggest a Secret Santa, or an alternative Christmas gift, like going out for a nice meal together?

… with yourself. It’s true. You are probably your own biggest critic and if everything isn’t absolutely perfect, you have ruined Christmas. Stop looking at the negatives: the forgotten Christmas card, the soggy Brussels sprout, and focus on what you have achieved not just this Christmas, but this year. If you are worried that you might forget something critical, treat yourself to a Christmas notebook – your Holy Grail, to help keep you organised throughout the season. 

 

 

Prep, Prep, Prep

You may think you love the buzz of activity that surrounds the days running up to Christmas Day, and the day itself, but a bit of prep will release those shackles and open your eyes to a whole new way of celebrating.

… the food. If you are hosting, prep the veg in advance. Some things, such as stuffing, can even be prepped and frozen; just check the recipe before you make a big batch to freeze. You can peel and boil your potatoes, leave them to cool down, and store in the fridge overnight to get one major job ticked off your to-do-list.

… the wrapping. Do you love the ritual of wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve, only to be overcome by stress when, at 10.30p.m. you realise you still have a small mountain of gifts to wrap, the paper is running low, and the elves have most definitely stolen the Sellotape? Banish the stress by wrapping in advance; it may seem a little TOO organised but it will leave you free to enjoy Christmas Eve with a glass of Bailey’s and Love Actually. 

 

Delegate…

Yes, you read right. Delegate. Delegation is the key to not being stressed. If it isn’t quite perfect? Not your problem. You get to pretend it is, smug in the knowledge that you could have done it better.

…presents. If the Christmas list is a little overwhelming, split it out between family members. Make a list and divide it out: you can pick names out of hats, make a rule that males buy for males and women for women (or vice versa), or just choose the people that you think you can best buy for. Simple.

… food. If you are hosting at Christmas, it is often easier to do everything than to get help. Equally, it is fine asking someone to bring cheese and crackers, but what if they don’t bring enough? Here, it helps to get really specific. Don’t just ask them to bring “some cheese and crackers”, ask them to bring 5 local cheeses and enough crackers for X amount of people. If you have guests staying, ask them to contribute a whole meal and send a list, e.g. “bring breakfast: bagels, bacon, salmon, eggs and orange juice”. That means you can scratch a whole meal or course off the list. 

Eat, drink and be merry. Remember that, whatever happens, as long as you smile, sing and enjoy yourself, you will have the most wonderful Christmas!