For many families, the Christmas season is the most wonderful time of the year. But, the high expectations that come along with the holidays can lead to stress, depression or disappointment. With so many things that we need to get done in order to spread holiday cheer, it can be pretty easy to get overwhelmed. Here are a few things you can do to keep yourself feeling merry and content this Christmas.
1. Get Started Early
It’s never too early to start getting ready for Christmas. Always keep an eye out for festive decorations or the perfect Christmas card while you’re out shopping throughout the year. Not only will this give you less to worry about when Christmas is just around the corner, but buying holiday supplies off-season can also save you money. If the family Christmas festivities are going to be held at your house this year, start preparing weeks or even months ahead.
I use a Christmas planning binder every year and store my ideas for that year along with traditions and ideas from years past. It helps me figure out what I need to do when and makes it easy for me to remember all of the traditions my family has come to love. It’s a great practical way to start early and get everything done without being overwhelmed.
2. Connect with Family
The stress of the holidays is much easier to manage when you’re able to use the time to reconnect with family. Find new, fun ways to get into the holiday spirit together. You might try decorating Christmas stockings together as a family, or singing carols around your community. You could even volunteer together at a local food bank or toy drive and help to spread some Christmas cheer and teach kids about the importance of giving back.
I have learned about the Danish art of Hygge this year and I am hoping to implement some of those principles in the winter, including Christmastime. It has so much to do with time together and coziness. I highly recommend learning about it. I loved this book if you want to know more.(I plan on doing a Hygge series sometime soon!)
3. Bring Down Expectations
Over-hype and high expectations make preparing for Christmas festivities much more stressful. If you worry about having the best decorations, the most presents, or the most memorable dinner party, you could start overworking and overextending yourself (and going a little crazy). Not only is scaling back good for you, but it’s a good example to set for your kids!
Spend a little time reflecting on what you do every year around the holidays. Do you have any traditions that you don’t particular enjoy anymore? Do you simply have too many? Talk to your family this year and find out what they truly love and if there is anything they could do without.
4. Cut Down on Spending
Financial issues are one of the leading causes of stress, and Christmas tends to be a very costly time. Try to save money where you can so that you have one less thing to worry about. Think of handmade or sentimental gifts that you can give or decorate with, rather than something costly from the store. Homemade decorations for the house or tree save money as well as provide an activity the whole family can enjoy.
You can also use apps and websites that give you money back on things you already buy like Ibotta, Shopkick, swagbucks, ebates and more! While these won’t pay for your whole Christmas (unless you have been hyper focused on it all year), it does help alleviate some of the financial burden.
5. Ask for Help
It’s tough to get everything done on your own during the Christmas season. But, you don’t have to get it all done by yourself. Start by asking your family for help. All of the stress-inducing chores that you need to take care of can become fun family activities. For instance, cleaning can become a dance party, buying presents can be a way of teaching kids to think of others and wrapping can be done by the whole family (as long as you are ok with not perfectly wrapped presents!) Not only will this make things much easier, but your family is sure to cherish Christmas all the more if everyone helped make it happen together.
If your family is as booked solid as you, what about a wrapping party with friends to help each other get more done and spend time with them? If you have the finances, you could also hire local groups to do things like hang lights and decorate outside. It’s a win-win for both you and the group that raises money for their cause.
If you feel anxious when Christmas is a few weeks (or even months) away, you’re not alone. Many people consider the Christmas holidays to be the most stressful time of the year. If you avoid the over-hype and encourage your family to have realistic expectations, you and your family can have a more peaceful and merry Christmas.