From family arguments to feeling like you’re chained to the stove, Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of the year – and a lot of the effort and emotion inevitably lands at your door. The secret? Focus on what’s really important to you and treat the household chores of the festive season like a game of striking off targets – you’ll be sorted in no time. Here’s how.
1. Simplify your gift list
Go with a theme and stick to this so you’re not spending weeks choosing the right present for everyone. For example, you might find a travel theme works for everyone: guide books for those planning big trips next year; digital photo albums for those who’ve just come back from somewhere exciting; clever little travel gadgets for everyone else. Why not read our guide on Doing all your Christmas shopping in one weekend to make it even easier?
2. Send e-cards not real cards
There’s no need to waste time and money on cards and stamps. Go to your favourite charity’s website and send ‘e-cards’ – these are greetings sent out to email addresses you choose, and you make a donation. Charities like Macmillan Cancer Support and Barnardos do this.
3. Get your guests involved
If you have family or friends coming to stay, don’t stress about what they’ll want to do – just ask them! Invite guests to come up with the afternoon’s entertainment or bring along five fab DVDs for that time when everyone’s ready to veg out on the sofa. Involving guests will keep the atmosphere informal and ease the pressure on you.
4. Don’t panic about the party
Your party doesn’t need to be complicated – just set a day when you throw an ‘open house’. This is more relaxed than getting everything ready for a big bash in the evening: friends and family can pop in through the day and you just need a ready supply of Christmassy nibbles (go for frozen canapes to make things easy) and drinks ready, with no need to prepare a huge buffet. If you do want to throw a proper party, check out our Christmas party planner, and try our recipes for a 60-minute party buffet
6. Be spontaneous and relaxed
Set a deadline for household chores to be done. After this time (maybe it’s midday on Christmas Eve) all boring tasks cease until December 27. Don’t worry, laundry will get done, rooms will be tidied, but right now, it’s time to enjoy yourself! Ahead of the big day, ask everyone in the family to list things they’d love to do on pieces of paper and pick the suggestions out of a jar to create a spontaneous, special Christmas Day.
How do you keep stress-free at Christmas? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments box below.