The Christmas Eve rush is a time-honoured tradition for many; scuttling into closing shops with a fistful of cash fervently convincing yourself that Dad would love nothing more than a car hoover on Christmas morning. While it can be fun to be caught up in the madness it can also be stressful and put financial pressure on strapped resources. If there are many of you buying presents for each other why not start a Secret Santa tradition. Put all names in a hat and have each person withdraw one name. You are then responsible for buying one nice present for that person and receiving one nice present in return from somebody else. It cuts down on both the financial pressure and the stress of trying to think of 7 different amazing Christmas presents. As long as you get your present bought on time you can be that smug person wandering serenely around on Christmas Eve soaking up the atmosphere without feeling the pressure.
Let’s be honest, most of the time the responsibility for the all-important Christmas dinner falls on just one person. They ‘know how to do it’, they ‘like doing it’ or ‘they just make the best gravy’. While some people may really love taking control there’s never any harm in asking for or offering help. Many parts of Christmas dinner can be divvied up and the youngest to the oldest member can take responsibility for one part be it setting the table, washing the brussel sprouts, chopping the carrots or watching the turkey doesn’t burn. In addition, many parts of the dinner can be prepared well in advance of Christmas Day itself and either frozen and defrosted on the day or left in fridge. Don’t let what should be a happy family meal turn into a screaming match over who left the roast potatoes in the oven – prepare what can be done in advance and let everyone pitch in on the day.
The run-up to Christmas is party season. Many people have at least one party a weekend for the whole of December but often 2 or 3 building up to one a night in the last week before the big day. While it is a great opportunity to meet old friends and relatives that you only see once a year it can also lead to a great pressure to be a social butterfly. The combination of alcohol and exhaustion can contribute to an overwhelmed and stress-out feeling. This year think ‘do I really want to go to this?’ before you say yes. Some people revel in the wild party seasons but for others it can feel more like a chore than a pleasure. Sure there are some events you probably need to go to but you don’t have to go to your second cousin’s Sunday afternoon Christmas extravaganza and that schoolmate that you haven’t seen since last year won’t really mind if you only go to her Christmas Eve-Eve drinks for an hour and then make your excuses. Most people have a big problem saying no and this leads to unnecessary stress. Feel free to make your excuses and go to as many or as few of the parties as you like. Go to an hour or one and an hour of another if you want to make an appearance. It’s your time too – decide in advance what would be most fun for you and stick to your guns.
For many people Christmas is the best time of the year. For others it can be stressful, sad or lonely. Looking after yourself and others, reminding yourself why you are doing the things you are doing and taking a time out every now and again to relax is probably the best thing you can do to reduce any Christmas stress and make Christmas a pleasant, non stressful time of year.