A Christmas tree inside a home.

Image via Wikipedia

I love Christmas.

It’s always been one of my favourite times of the year and now that I have young children, it’s taken on a whole new dimension.

However, I’m also conscious that this period of the year can become a very stressful one for many people, with the reality of the day not always matching our lofty and idealistic expectations.

To maximise our Christmas period, I have identified a few simple tips that I trust can take away some of the stress and help you to enjoy this wonderful time.

Finish your shopping early.  One of the big stressors at this time of the year is fighting the crowds at shopping centres.  Finding car spaces, waiting in long queues and finding that the ideal gift is sold out at the last minute can be very frustrating, but can also be simple to fix.  If you aim to get your Christmas shopping done by early December, you can let everyone else fight the crowds, while you relax at home feeling comfortable and possibly slightly superior.

Stick to a budget.  We can all get excited when we see the perfect gift for a loved one, but don’t forget that the credit card bill gets sent in january and you’re going to have to pay for your extravagance one day.  Have a budget that allows you to balance generosity and good sense.

Don’t drink too much.  Many people like to celebrate at parties with a few drinks, which in moderation is fine.  However, I would advise that you manage your alcohol intake carefully to save you the embarrassment and extra stress of doing or saying something that you’ll regret later and have to apologise for.  Many careers and relationships have been damaged and destroyed as a result of excessive drinking, so please be careful.  Not drinking on an empty stomach and alternating alcohol with water or soft drink can be a helpful strategy for some people.  It should also go without saying, but please don’t drink and drive.

Manage family tension.  There are few things that can ruin your Christmas day like a family feud, so make sure that you are conscious of the part that you have to play in this.  Try to keep conversations away from potentially controversial topics, focus on enjoying your children’s experience,  be sensitive towards others and try not to be too sensitive yourself.

There are no guarantees with families and you can’t control how others behave, but making sure that you don’t add fuel to the fire will help you to feel better about the day whilst making Christmas less stressful for those around you.

Learn to say no.  Some people receive many invitations to parties and events at this time of year and feel compelled to attend all of them.  This can be draining after the first few, taking the gloss off what should be a fun time.  It’s OK to say no to some events, allowing you to really enjoy the parties that you do attend.

Remember why we celebrate Christmas.  It’s easy to get so caught up in the shopping and end of year partying during this period of the year that we forget why we celebrate Christmas.  The good news of Jesus’ birth is a reason for hope for all humanity and taking the time to reflect on this wonderful truth helps me to realise that this holiday season has a terrific purpose beyond all of the other distractions.

I hope that the Christmas period is a relaxing and enjoyable one for you and your family and that these tips are of assistance.

Do you have any tips for making the Christmas period less stressful?

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