It’s a busy time of year! There’s a lot going on – a tonne of presents to buy, Christmas events and food to organise, school holidays, trips to plan, work to juggle, cleaning, decorating, celebration functions, money stress, possible travel. On and on it goes.
It’s enough to make anyone melt.
But does it really have to be this way?
It's very easy to get caught up in the festive season, feel overwhelmed and pressed for time. We can get so wrapped up in the holiday hype that it’s hard to remember what Christmas is really all about – spending time with friends and family, gratitude, appreciation etc. Oh, and that guy Jesus if you're into that sort of thing.
So how do we get out of the hype and bring some calm back into the silly season?
Well, here's some tips to help keep you in the calm zone as much as possible
Say NO. You don’t have to go to every event, Christmas do or family occasion. It's okay to say NO now and again. Pick the number of things you want to go to and stick to it. Say ‘no’ to the rest. People will understand. Instead say ‘yes’ to you.
Presents. Buy early and buy on-line. The mall is a nightmare at the moment (even before the schools break-up). So, avoid the mall craziness if you can and buy on-line, or even hitting the markets is a great idea. Better still get your shopping done earlier in the year (hopefully you had thought of this a few months ago – I didn’t, damn it).
Ask for present ideas. Get ideas for friends and family you are buying for – email them ideas for you and your family, and ask for the same from them. You can even arrange a budget between you. Vouchers are another great idea.
Split Christmas. Xmas day can be crazy, trying to catch up with all the family. So maybe try splitting Christmas day. Celebrate with one side of the family a weekend before Christmas, and do the other side on Christmas day. Then swap the next year. This can save a lot of running around and over eating in one day!
Make a list. Being a list maker and lover, I couldn’t survive without my lists. Everything’s written down, ready to tick off as it gets done. If it’s out of my head and on paper or in my phone it all feels way more manageable. It’s also a great idea to make a list of present ideas throughout the year for certain people.
Money. If you don’t have the money, don’t spend it. It’s tempting to stick everything on the credit card and worry about it next month, but this just sets you up for more debt and an end of January freak-out. Make a present budget and stick to it. Kid’s will survive without overflowing Santa sacks. If money is an issue, give Acts of Service gift cards, like babysitting, cooking a meal, cleaning etc. Most people love this kind of thing a lot more than an average box of chocolates.
Freeze it. Can you make some food ahead of Christmas day and freeze it? It’s amazing the things you can freeze and they are just fine when defrosted. Lots of ideas on-line too.
Give. Don’t forget the people out there who really are struggling at this time of year. Or maybe an organisation that could do with a dollar donation or food. Instead of my kid’s buying each other presents, this year they are picking a place to donate to for each other. Surprisingly they all seem quite happy about this.
Delay Travel. Doing Christmas and then heading away to relax in the sun sounds lovely, but it can cause a lot of extra stress at an already stressful time. Could delaying travel until later in the month be a better idea? Less rush, less cost, less people, more calm. Maybe something to consider.
Ask for help. Can your partner do some of the shopping? Can family help? Can you combine presents with someone else? Can others help with the food? Is going out for dinner a better idea? Christmas is a combined celebration and the load needs to be shared.
Breathe. Yes breathe. We can get so caught up in the hype that we forget to take moments to sit for a while, breathe and just chill out. Appreciate what you have. Remember that everything will get done. And if it doesn’t, it obviously didn’t need to get done.
Enjoy. Yes, the pavlova may not have risen, little Johnny is crying because Santa got the wrong Star Wars Lego for him, Uncle Fred has drunk all the Brandy, and the windows never got cleaned …. but this is all just “stuff”. Stuff that doesn’t really matter. So, relax, have fun, be in the moment, laugh and hang out with your friends and family. But most importantly - Enjoy yourself.