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Christmas Stress Management – 6 Tips to Avoid That Festive Panic
Overhearing two of my friends’ conversations over coffee last week, it struck me that they sounded like A Level students about to sit their exams…
“I’ll be happy when it’s all over… I don’t have a moment alone… I don’t see how I can do it all”.
I’m sure you’ve guessed from the title of this post that they don’t take exams. No, he was talking about Christmas; a time of joy and favor for all men… and of course stress, pressure and hard work for all women!
It made me wonder: How did we manage to take all the joy out of Christmas?
But then the memory of last year came back. All that preparation; write all the cards; buying and wrapping gifts; buying food; cooking for hundreds; perfect hostess; organizing family politics; keeping Aunt Mabel away from the boiled sherry (please note, name changed to protect offenders)…
Suddenly I felt the same way as my friends. But I’m determined to enjoy Christmas this year so I came up with the “6 Christmas Stress Management” tips, designed to let me and my girlfriends have our Christmas cake and eat it!
So, if any of the above apply to you, read on to see how you can make sure you’re relaxed and stress-free when Santa comes down the chimney.
1- Go back to basics
Have reasonable expectations – the chances of a perfect Christmas are impossible and difficult to plan for. Christmas Day is a time to enjoy being with family and friends. It doesn’t matter if lunch is late, presents are poorly wrapped or grandma has too much sherry! Keep it simple and remember that Christmas is for everyone – including you, to have a great time!
2- Ask for help
Even Santa has a team of little helpers, so you’re welcome to help out at Christmas. If you’re throwing a Christmas party for a crowd, don’t try to be Superwoman. Ask others to help you prepare food or decorate.
Maybe a sister or friend can bring a Christmas cake and another family member can help decorate the tree. Give everyone a job – group efforts are often more fun and rewarding!
3- Not everything has to be created from scratch
In an ideal world, we’d all be there in our red and white, happily baking Christmas cakes, Christmas sweets, mince pies, warming home-made wine and milking our cow to make sure the cheese is fresh.
This can be great if you have a lot of time, are very organized or both (and keep the cows in your back yard). But let’s be real. Many mothers these days are trying to juggle work and play at school, buying, wrapping and hiding presents and a million other things that need to be done at Christmas.
So, my advice is to be smart, take advantage of the opportunities offered by today’s world (sounds better than saying ‘cheating’).
Ready-made Christmas cakes and puddings are usually delicious (sometimes, knowing my past disasters) and reduce your workload. Likewise, the cost of making mince pies doesn’t go down (a little clean up), and store-bought mince pies can be cheaper than making your own.
You can also take it one step further. Supermarkets have good, tasty, fresh, ready-to-eat vegetables and baked potatoes. Or if you really want to make your own, why not prepare the roasted potatoes and slices a few weeks in advance and store them in the freezer. It saves a lot of time on Christmas Day – as long as you remember to turn off the timer!
4 – Fixing family politics
This is often the most difficult part of Christmas, especially for those with extended families or long-standing conflicts. From experience, Christmas has also been known to cause less controversy!
My advice is to plan ahead. If you have a family that doesn’t get along, invite one for Christmas this year and one for New Year’s and explain that next year the invitations will be reversed.
It also helps if you or your partner have family members who can take the heat off of you by calling your relatives. Be with your brothers and sisters in the autumn season to decide between you who is calling, so that no one is left out and everyone is happy.
This won’t solve all the problems, but you are doing something to solve them before Christmas day.
5- Prepare Christmas dinner
Don’t start baking at dawn – enjoy Christmas in the morning! If you have a good breakfast, there’s no need to sit down for your big Christmas meal until mid-afternoon or early evening.
This gives you more time to sit and watch the kids open their Christmas presents and play with their new toys.
6 – Boxing Day and get your feet up!
If you’ve been watching on Christmas Day, don’t think about doing it again the next day.
Let someone else take their time and you be the guest for the day or have a quiet day using the leftover turkey and have sandwiches!
I hope it works out for you and I wish you a stress-free, merry Christmas!
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