TIPS TO PLAN STRESS-FREE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY
Imagine you sit with a glass of mulled wine in front of an open fire and watching one of the Christmas movie classics. It’s perfect. But what does it take to get to that relaxing stage? A lot of running around, cooking and shopping, top it with work deadlines…about four weeks of it. Every year, you think you can make Christmas better than last year and every year those preparations seems to be a lot more stressful.
I wrote last year about how to avoid Christmas burn -out, as approaching closer to 25th December every year, I felt more and more tired with very little energy to actually enjoy the festivities. Last year was an improvement on the year before, and so with that in mind, I thought I would let you know how I plan my holiday season without too much stress.
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
It won’t be a discovery of the year if I tell you that your first thing to do is to plan everything. I always laughed at my mum, who had scraps of paper everywhere with shopping lists, lists to do, even scribbling down what she bought and how much she paid. She had a little system going 🙂 I am not laughing now, as it is the best way to organise myself and not feel overwhelmed when I realise I double booked myself with two different sets of friends on the same day (yes, I did that!)
Dedicate specific days to cleaning, shopping, tree/home decorating, making food that can be prepped in advance, seeing friends and family. Having it all written down always gives me a clear idea what can be done when and what can be completely given a miss.
PERFECT DOESN’T EXIST
Well, it does…in cheesy Christmas Movies 🙂 At some point I had to let go and forget that Christmas isn’t about perfect gifts, decorations or perfectly baked gingerbread men. I had to let go of perfectly clean house and creating dishes that would look pretty but be half eaten. I have two busy boys, who happen to be fussy eaters. Until their taste buds can appreciate a bit more imaginative foods, we are stuck with what we know and like, and that’s fine for now. As we are a pretty busy family, for us it’s all about spending quality time together and creating memories.
MAKE YOUR LIFE EASIER
After your Christmas food shopping list is complete, buy some items with your weekly shops and tick them off. Financially, you will hardly feel it and if they are items with long “use by” date or frozen it means you will have them ready.
If you don’t mind online grocery shopping, few of them have got introductory money off or free delivery offers. I find shopping this way so much easier than fighting the crowds, finding parking spaces, battling with a toddler who refuses to sit still in a trolley and then spending more money than anticipated.
Whatever can be made in advance and stored/frozen – do it. However, if you don’t fancy cooking or can’t face it, see whether you can order your Christmas Dinner delivered to your home. Most major supermarkets offer some sort of festive menu and once it’s ordered you don’t have to worry about it. It may not be the most thrifty way but it is most definitely stress – free.
I don’t do a big clean in one day. I try to divide big cleaning tasks into small chunks and I don’t go after every single nook and cranny (that’s reserved for big spring clean). I also delegate cleaning tasks, so far only to my husband, but it means I am not the only one doing everything.
DON’T PANIC BUY + STICK TO BUDGET
I was guilty of that in the past. Poor planning, no shopping lists and I was out shopping a couple of days before Christmas like there was no tomorrow. It’s hard to resist sometimes as the marketing people worked it out months in advance, how to lure me and you into buying a lot of things that we have to have but don’t need. Add to it this hard to resist the offer and you end up with the surplus of gifts, extra decorations, food that won’t probably be eaten and buyers remorse a few hours later.
Armed with your shopping lists and budget, you will feel a weird sense of satisfaction when you resist all of those last minute buys. I know I have and I must admit, I didn’t think twice about that new tableware set that I didn’t buy in the end 🙂 When it comes to gifts you don’t have to spend excessively. Even better, next year start thinking about those Christmas presents in the summer.
Come December and everyone, including myself, is busy. Shopping, seeing family and friends as well as going to Christmas parties. You don’t have to do everything at once as you will end up stressed out and with a feeling that by doing one thing you missed out on another. See what works for you and your family, but don’t feel under pressure you need to do everything that you are potentially invited to. I need to remind myself of that a lot but just because everyone is going or doing something doesn’t mean you have to.
Even if it means 15 minutes all by yourself to gather your thoughts, a short walk, a pampering bath with a facemask on, a hot/cold drink of your choice with a favourite book or magazine. It’s extremely important amongst all that planning and prepping to look after yourself as you can’t pour from an empty glass. I feel much better after one of the short sessions above and I am quite happy to get back into ticking off the to-do list again the next day.
The run-up to Christmas can be stressful but it can be enjoyable at the same time. It is the month of preparations and anticipation for the big day that the little people (and us) also remember. It is the time that new memories and also sometimes new traditions are created. Nothing will ever be perfect, I will probably not tick all of the things off my to-do list, boys will not keep the house clean & tidy but that’s ok, I won’t stress about it.
I am happy that we all will be spending some quality time together and demolishing some delicious food, even if it’s not all perfectly homemade and Pinterest-worthy.
I am curious to find out whether you have any tips to plan stress-free holiday?
Please do share them in the comments below!
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