What’s that, I hear you ask? A STRESS-FREE Christmas? What is this sorcery she speaks of?!
It’s true… there IS such a thing as a stress-free Christmas! And when I say Christmas, I mean the few days beforehand and Christmas Day itself (“the holidays” I guess, as my US friends would call it). If you’re having a panic right now, I may not be able to help you with everything (for example if you haven’t started Christmas shopping by now then you might be a lost cause, lol), but I can throw a few ideas into the mix that may help ease the stress which ESPECIALLY happens on the big day itself.
Whilst Christmases with my family are usually super-happy, hilarious affairs, there are always things that we’ve looked back on and thought, Oh gawd I wish we’d done x instead of y and not let z happen.
Here are my top three tips to ensure you have a super happy, stress-free Christmas – no one needs to miss out on the fun…!
1. Wrap presents as you buy them
I only just started doing this this year, and I don’t know why I didn’t do it before. I tend to do my Christmas shopping throughout the year (more so in the second half because the majority of my family have birthdays in the spring and early summer), and up to now I’ve ALWAYS left my wrapping till a few days before Christmas – or even late on Christmas Eve, aaargh! It’s almost as if my brain is telling me You can’t be THAT organised, woman!! If you’ve bought all your presents early you now have to suffer and wrap them on Christmas Eve! Why should you be relaxing in the days before Christmas when everyone else is last minute panic-buying?!
But this year I had the brilliant idea to wrap each present as I bought it. (I’m pretty sure many of you are reading this and thinking, Er yeah – why WOULDN’T you do that? Doesn’t everyone shop and wrap??) And oh boy, it’s made it so much easier for me. No Christmas Eve panic and emergency trips to the nearest still-open local Spar because I didn’t have enough wrapping paper.
No, this year presents are all present (wrapped) and correct. I’m Smuggy McSmuggins with my feet up and a glass of sherry this year.
2. Plan in advance who does what on Christmas Day
This, for me, is the most important thing to get sorted in advance. My best tip for making sure there are no arguments, cross words spoken or stressed-out hosts (or guests!) is to ensure everyone knows what their role is on the day and who is responsible for what. Treat it like a military operation and avoid the conflict altogether.
There’s nothing worse than arguing over whose job it was to buy cranberry sauce or brandy butter. Or who’s doing the washing up (or not doing the washing up). Or who’s left all the wrapping paper in a big mess in the corner of the living room. Divide jobs up between everyone who is coming on the day and make sure they all know EXACTLY what jobs they, and everyone else, are doing and responsible for. Getting everyone to agree to the jobs in advance makes life so much easier as they then can’t moan about it on the day.
And just as important: make sure they know what they are NOT doing! The hosts [often AKA Mum and Dad] shouldn’t be doing ALL the prepping and ALL the cooking and ALL the clearing up. There should be at least one of those things they’re exempt from – and if, like me, you still go to your parents for Christmas then they need to understand that they shouldn’t be doing absolutely everything.
(Though if your parents are anything like mine, good luck trying to make them understand they won’t be doing one particular aspect of Christmas Day and that it’s obligatory they sit down at some point…!)
Examples of jobs that can be split up:
- Everyone coming to dinner can bring pre-prepped or part-cooked veggies in ready-to-serve dishes.
- Decide in advance exactly what time presents will be exchanged so everyone is dressed and ready (unless you do Pyjama Day Christmasses of course – but stick to the agreed time).
- Younger children can collect cardboard, wrapping paper and plastic after presents have been opened (teaches them good habits about recycling too).
- One or two people can be designated to lay the table.
- One person can be in charge of getting drinks (tipples), and someone else can be in charge of making teas and coffees.
- Split the family into two groups: one group does all the cooking and prepping, the other does the clearing away and washing up/loading the dishwasher, etc. Everyone gets a rest this way!
3. Bite your tongue to avoid conflict
Nothing spoils a Christmas more than squabbles or petty arguments, though they’re hard to avoid in a boiling hot, busy kitchen or when kids have gifts (or each other) to play with and fight over. Christmas isn’t the time for doing that “Well I’m just being honest” thing (I can’t bear that type of thinking at the best of times!), so if someone is really getting on your nerves I always think it’s best to bit your tongue if at all possible. Or at least THINK before you speak. Granted, depending on the circumstances, it ISN’T always possible, but my thinking is: Was their behaviour/what they said REALLY that bad? Can it be put down to the stress of the day? Could that be said another day – and/or in private?
Unless you can sort things out straight away then don’t bring it up at all. Nothing harbours bad feelings in a family more than a grudge that has gone on too long. Unless it’s behaviour that repeats itself it’s best to put it down to the stress of the day and not bring it up again. Family conflicts that are borne out of pretty much nothing are not worth holding onto forever: I know how it can destroy relationships and potentially destroy a family…!
As I already mentioned – think, WAS it really that bad? Is the memory of a bad Christmas (something that can be applied to ANY family gathering to be honest) worth those petty squabbles…?
So with that – this is my last post till after Christmas (I’ll be back on Thursday 27th)… have yourself a VERY Merry Christmas – and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! 😉
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR A STRESS-FREE CHRISTMAS THAT YOU WANT TO SHARE? TELL US IN THE COMMENTS!
P.S. You’ll notice that the link up is a day later… I’m spreading my posts out a little as I won’t be posting for a week (it’s nice to have a bit of a break from posting)! This is how the posts and link ups will look over Christmas and New Year:
Tuesday 25 December – no post
Wednesday 26 December – no post
Thursday 27 December – The #iwillwearwhatilike link up (outfit post)
Friday 28 December – My year in review, the final quarter (no #ShareAllLinkUp)
Sunday 30 December – The Best of the Blogosphere, December
Tuesday 1 January – Annual bloopers and outtakes post
Wednesday 2 January – The #iwillwearwhatilike link up (outfit post)
Friday 4 January – My greatest photographic moments of 2018 + #ShareAllLinkUp
So everything is jiggled and reshuffled a little because of Christmas holidays, annual posts like the bloopers, and outtakes, etc. Normal service will resume from w/c Monday 7 January!
So all that’s left to say is – I’ve shared my thoughts/stories/tuppence-worth this week, now it’s time to share yours… LET’S GET THIS [LINK UP] PARTY STARTED!
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