Before getting overwhelmed with the whole season, consider the following:
- Spirit of Christmas
Christmas is a time of love, giving and being with the people important in your life. Remember this and don’t get too worried about having the neatest house, the fanciest meal, sending out record numbers of Christmas cards or other little details. It is more important that your home is welcoming and your Christmas spirit shows in your happiness. Keep things simple and friendly to save you stress and give everyone a good time!
- Spread the Jobs
Make sure that you are not left with all the Christmas tasks. Ask for help and you may be pleasantly surprised by people’s reactions and hidden skills. By sharing the preparations, you can all share the fun and satisfaction, too.
- Pace Yourself
December is usually full of social events – yours as well as those for partners, schools, friends, extended family, and so on. Given the hectic state of the final weeks leading up to Christmas, why not spread the Christmas tasks over months? Maybe even over the entire year.
- Be Creative
Without losing any traditions that are special to you and your loved ones, why not use some creativity in your Christmas celebrations this year? Creativity is in us all, but often doesn’t get a chance to shine but Christmas is a perfect opportunity for it. Think of different gift ideas, locations, foods, decorations, wrappings, etc, and have some fun!
Below are some small ways to save time and reduce the stress of the Christmas Chaos.
Early planning tips
- Keep an eye for Christmas gifts all year – especially at sales. Not only does this save time in December, but it spreads the financial burden, too.
- Stock up on non-perishables during the year, too. For instance, bottles of soft drink, dried fruits, sauces and nuts can be bought well in advance.
- Use lay-by rather than credit cards to buy some gifts as this spreads payments out and avoids large interest bills.
- Keep a list of who you need to give gifts too and carry it with you all year, crossing off names as you buy their gift.
- Consider making gifts – people appreciate the effort and thought it shows. This often requires planning and early preparation.
- Collect children’s artwork all year to use as wrapping paper.
- Don’t forget the after-Christmas sales. This is a great time to buy Christmas wrappings, cards, decorations and home wares at discounted prices. And if they’re done in January, you are 11 months ahead of schedule!
- Look into a bank account to save for Christmas – add a little regularly and don’t touch it except for Christmas gifts and needs.
- Save up annual leave and take a day in December. Shops are less crowded during the week and it will give you a chance to shop and run errands in your own time.
- For overseas and interstate gifts, allow plenty of time for postage. Early planning means you can use the cheaper sea mail, too
Celebrations and functions…
- Consider having your Christmas lunch or dinner at a local hotel, function hall, condo clubhouse or restaurant – (or do a picnic or barbecue outside if you live in a warmer climate.) You will have less work in cleaning up.
- For big Christmas meals, make sure the cooking is shared around. Get everyone to bring a dish to share or plan the meal such that each family brings certain things (eg Smiths bring the potatoes and carrots, the Kings bring Christmas puddings and custard, Aunt Mary does the roast turkey and Uncle Fred brings the ham.)
- If going to a number of functions needing a plate, consider preparing something in bulk that can be kept long enough. For instance, make some shortbread or cover it in chocolate, buy some frozen deserts, make a number of Christmas puddings or mince pies, buy or make sausage rolls or take along ice-cream and cones!
- Invite lonely acquaintances to your Christmas celebrations – it will make a huge difference to their festive season. Remember that Christmas is one of the loneliest times of year for many people.
- Instead of booking many functions on Christmas Day, why not rearrange some to Boxing Day? Or even the previous weekend? By doing so, you reduce the stress of Christmas Day and get more time with each group to really enjoy each others’ company.
- Alternatively, mix some groups together and have one huge function instead of multiple smaller ones.
- Instead of having all the presents under the tree, have them hidden around the house and run a treasure hunt for them – the kids will love it!
- At big family gatherings, let one or two people play Santa to give out the gifts. Do it slowly enough that everyone can see what’s happening rather than being involved in their own presents. Sharing and giving are important to Christmas.
- Make sure even the youngest children get to give presents, too. They love giving and being thanked for a gift – if they chose it or made it, it is even more special. And it is very important that they have a turn of giving to Mum and Dad for a change.
- For large families and groups of friends, consider giving family gifts or organizing a Yankee Swap or Secret Santa. This saves you looking for quite so many gifts and usually allows more time and money to be spent on each gift.
- If wanting to give cookies etc as gifts or food contributions, consider sharing this with a friend or two. Each of you can make a big batch of one cookie type and hand over half. This way, you get two types to hand out without the time and effort of following two recipes.
- To combine your crafty ideas and wanting to be with friends, why not have a craft party in November where you can make things together?
- Have a theme – get everyone to dress in red and green, wear Santa hats, come in fancy dress, have tinsel in their hair, tie bells on to shoes, wear funny masks, whatever you think of to make the day fun and happy. Or fit into an old-fashioned Christmas or a tropical day.
- For teachers and the like, it is much nicer if the child makes a card or token than to give an elaborate gift. Children can make cookies, breads, cupcakes or even bath salts as gifts for many people.
- Carry some Christmas cards with you – you can write them out whilst waiting for a train, Doctor, or during a child’s lesson! Keep a list of who has and hasn’t been done, though!
- When packing away your Christmas decorations this year, keep only the good ones (that is, throw out the broken and useless bits and pieces) and store them carefully. Put them into boxes and label what is in each box so it will be much easier to set up next year!
- When winding up lights for storing, use multiple twist ties to keep them in shape and tangle-free for next Christmas.
For the kids..
- To keep a room or cupboard out-of-bounds (for present or as a mess room!) cover the door in wrapping paper or a big bow and a sign “Do not open before Christmas”
- To enhance the Santa fun, let the children make biscuits to leave out. For even more fun, let them decorate the plate, too – and don’t forget the hay and carrots for the reindeer …
- Have a special shopping trip with the kids. Let them help choose presents for their friends and some relatives and make it a full day by including a trip to Santa and a yummy lunch! Not only does this get them involved, they will love a day with you during the busy season.
- Give at least a gift or two to a charity or someone who is struggling. Keep the spirit of Christmas alive.
- Acknowledge the loss of special people who are missing at Christmas – burn a candle in their memory, fill a stocking with special words about them, have their photo nearby, buy a gift in their name to honour their memory, support those who are grieving the loss and accept the sadness that is to be expected.