As the old song goes, Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be one of the most stressful. We all know how quickly the festive season can turn into the frazzled season: there are relatives to organise, recipes to follow, gift lists to tick off, and maybe, if you're lucky, a few seconds to sit back and enjoy your holidays.
Make your #onechange
Share the load and divvy up the Christmas duties between your family members. That way everyone feels included.
So to keep you from going as red as Rudolph's nose, we've put together some suggestions that will help you stay calm in the lead-up to December 25th: just think of it as an early Christmas present from us to you.
START YOUR PREPARATIONS EARLY
Most people get a twinge of panic when they see the decorations go up in shopping centres, but there's something to be said for not leaving Christmas prep until, well, the last twelve days. "Planning and preparation can help prevent the last minute stresses of pulling together your perfect festive day," says psychologist Jocelyn Brewer. "It helps avoid a range of disappointments or annoyances, from the mega-crowds at the malls, to forgetting that one tiny but essential ingredient." Be like Santa Claus: make lots of lists, check them twice, and consider stocking up on non-perishable ingredients well ahead of time. Remember your nanna's "present cupboard"? She was onto something.
"GOOD ENOUGH" IS GOOD ENOUGH
If you feel yourself getting too set on the table looking 'just so', or whether this year's turkey will be the best ever, take a moment to focus on the simpler gifts: the chance to see family and friends and relax, even if it's just for the day. "We place a lot of emotional energy on making the festive season a wonderful, peaceful time," Jocelyn says. "In the celebration of family and friends and our collective 'togetherness', we can add a high level of expectation on the season being really perfect and hiccup free." If your uncle eats more than his fair share of turkey, or the in-laws insist on bringing their favourite (terrible) Christmas CD to play, it's not the end of the world.
SHARE THE LOAD
If you're the sort of person who ends up doing everything on Christmas Day while silently resenting it, stop, and ask for help! "Get clear on your expectations and check in with how realistic they are," says Jocelyn. "Discuss these with your family and agree on what you want, who will do what and how you can all have the fun without the drama. Plan and prepare before December 24th, and do small steps each week that help you get things in place with time to relax in the lead up." If the idea of relaxing on Christmas Eve seems about as realistic as winning Lotto, it might be time for you to delegate!
FOCUS ON THE SIMPLE THINGS
As fun as the gift-giving and indulgence can be, Christmas is still a time for reflection and recharging, so remember to give yourself a break. "Let go of the stuff," Jocelyn says. "Forget the material aspects of the day or meals, and focus on the people and the interactions, the opportunity to hang out and spend time together without an emphasis on trying to be master chef or perfect host."