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How to Have a Less Stressful Christmas

Updated on April 15, 2018
Karen Hellier profile image

Karen Hellier is a freelance writer and eBay entrepreneur. She lives happily in the mountains of North Georgia with her husband and her dog.

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Avoiding the Christmas Crazies


The Christmas Crazies is what I call the condition where one runs around during the whole holiday season from December first each year until Christmas morning so frantic that they wonder where the holiday season went, and why they didn't enjoy it. For years I have suffered from this dreaded condition. Well, dreaded by me anyway.

And every year, on the evening of December 25th, I vow that the next Christmas season will be different. I vow to be prepared earlier. I vow to find better presents, at lower prices. I vow to wrap those presents earlier than the wrapping marathon I usually have on Christmas Eve. I vow to shop all through the year. I vow to remember to bring the advent candles down before the first Sunday in Advent, instead of halfway through or not at all. I vow to be so prepared that I will have time to attend the Christmas Eve service at 11:00 p.m. at church, etc.

I make all these promises to myself and then once the new year starts, I tend to forget all about it. I do make some headway each year in various areas, but the best way to be prepared is to make an organized effort in all areas...baking, shopping, wrapping, cleaning, decorating, etc.

This year, I did the best and actually felt relaxed and happy on Christmas night as I sat on the couch with my husband and relived some of the special moments of the day. So I have devised this plan to avoid the Christmas crazies, and I hope it helps you as well.

17 Tips to Avoid the Christmas Crazies

1) Shop all year long for Christmas gifts The huge "After Christmas" sales start on the day after Christmas. You can purchase all wrapping paper, bows, tags, cards, and decorations all at 50% off, and sometimes more at most major department stores and pharmacies. Also at grocery stores.

And you can also shop for gifts. If you have family gifts to give, Christmas decorations make wonderful gifts. Think about those families you give that type of gift to, and bring a list with you as you head out the day after Christmas. I have bought really beautiful Christmas tree ornaments, Christmas frames, nutcrackers, candle holders and the like for really great prices on the day after Christmas. Once you purchase these gifts, you must be organized enough to keep them somewhere that you'll find them, so...

The huge after Christmas sales start on the day after Christmas. You can purchase all wrapping paper, bows, tags, cards, and decorations all at 50% off, and sometimes more at most major department stores and pharmacies. Also at grocery stores. And you can also shop for gifts. If you have family gifts to give, Christmas decorations make wonderful gifts. Think about those families you give that type of gift to, and bring a list with you as you head out the day after Christmas. I have bought really beautiful Christmas tree ornaments, Christmas frames, nutcrackers, candle holders and the like for really great prices on the day after Christmas. Once you purchase these gifts, you must be organized enough to keep them somewhere that you'll find them, so...

2) Have a gift closet or container ready to hold your purchased gifts for next year

If you have a spare space at the bottom of a closet, get a large cardboard box and keep all gifts purchased throughout the year in that one place. Before you go out next December to do more Christmas shopping, take a look in that closet to see who you have already bought for. Keep a running list inside the box so you can just check whose gifts you have already bought, and cross them off your master list....

3) Keep a master list of who you need to buy gifts for

Keep it in your wallet so all year long you can just pull it out and cross off names as you find gifts for them. If you go on vacation to Maine in the Summer and find the perfect fishing equipment gift for Uncle Merle, buy it and cross him off your list. It will make things a lot simpler when the Christmas season rolls around again.

4) Speaking of gifts, find one gift that a lot of people on your list would like, and buy them in bulk

For example, do your Aunt Sandy, best friend Christine, and the babysitter all like candles? Buy them all a candle when you see them on sale during the candle of the month sale at Yankee Candle. That would take three gifts off your list right then and there.

5) Keep a Christmas only savings account

Use the money you save on groceries by clipping coupons, or whenever you work overtime, put part of your extra earnings in there to help cut down on bills at the end of the year because you went on a shopping blitz just before Christmas. By having an actual account at the ready, you can purchase the gifts year round and just replace the money in your checking account with money from your Christmas fund.

6) Keep a Christmas Countdown calendar

At this time of year, there are extra calendars floating around everywhere. It seems many companies want you to remember them year round, so they send calendars or have them available at their places of business. Pick one of these extra calendars up, and turn to October. Start choosing dates now to help you be better prepared for Christmas. Choose a Saturday to wrap any of the gifts you already have. Chose a few dates in November to start baking cookies that you can freeze and have ready to thaw and give out during December. Pick a day or night in December to have a gift wrapping party. Pick a day to do your Christmas cards and write it down. If there are any regularly scheduled events that are on the same day each year, such as a parade on the first Saturday of December, write it in now so it will be already on your calendar.

7) Have a gift wrapping day in October

To get yourself in the mood, enlist the aid of one of your children, a spouse or a significant other. Prepare a fire in the fireplace and some hot chocolate. Then pull out all of your discounted wrapping supplies that you purchased the day after Christmas, and any of the gifts you have already bought, start wrapping and keep a running list of what you have wrapped for each person. It will be a fun experience of Christmas in October and help you get more organized for the big event two months later.

8) Have a gift wrapping party in December to wrap the gifts you have purchased since the first gift wrapping day

Invite 4 or 5 friends and have them bring their gifts and wrapping paper to wrap them. Also, ask them to bring a light snack to eat. You provide tape, scissors, bow and tags for everyone, Christmas music, and some beverages. Everyone can get their gifts wrapped, and those who finish early can help others wrap theirs.

9) Clean your house to prepare for decorating

Make the first three weeks of November your house cleaning weeks. Wash curtains and floors, polish furniture and items that need polishing, etc. Not only will you be ready for Thanksgiving, but Christmas as well. I love to decorate for Christmas using teddy bears, and looking forward to decorating with teddies, and setting up our collection of Department 56 Christmas in the City buildings gets me motivated to clean first.

10) Right after Thanksgiving, pull out all your Christmas decorations and start decorating the house that next week

Make sure all outside lights are up by a target deadline...December first works well as then the electric bill will only be for December.

11) Take advantage of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales

Purchase stocking stuffers and other gifts you still need on Black Friday. Any items you need to purchase online should be bought on the following Monday, which is Cyber Monday. On Black Friday, the sales are amazing and usually better than you can find them throughout the rest of the season, especially on large purchases such as electronics. Also, the pharmacies such as CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens all have free items if you are willing to get register rewards where you pay for the item upfront, then get register reward coupons for the same amount, to be used on other items within the next 2 - 4 weeks. I have 3 young adult children that I can pretty much full stockings for based on the Black Friday sales. I get free razors, candy, gum, toothbrushes, toothpaste, stick dental floss, cough drops, medication, shaving cream, etc. all on Black Friday, and it's a big weight off my mind for the rest of the season. Keep in mind people you have to buy for and send through the mail or through a package delivery company such as Federal Express or UPS. Buy early so you can send packages out early.

12) Try to have all your gifts mailed out at two Mondays before Christmas

The post office states that the busiest day of the year for them is the Monday before Christmas. Aim to have your gifts mailed out one week before that. Then you will have a huge weight off your mind and you'll know that the recipients will have them in time for Christmas morning.

13) Send Christmas cards early, if you decide to do Christmas cards at all

Again, it would be a relief to have those Christmas cards out earlier than the busiest day of the year for the post office. If you have bought Christmas cards on sale on December 26th, you have a whole year to address them and write them out! You can do this over the Summer, or in October, or at the latest plan a day to do this in early December. Ask someone in your family with nice handwriting to address all the envelopes. Or choose to send your cards out during the week between Christmas and New Year's when things are calmer. It is still during the Christmas season, and people will be happy to receive something more fun in their mailbox other than bills.

14) Make sure your serving dishes are clean

One week before Christmas, check all your serving platters, silverware and Christmas dishes and run whatever needs to be cleaned through the dishwasher to have it ready for the big day. If you have paper goods, check them and make sure you have Christmas napkins, paper plates and cups that all match. If you still need something, you can run out to the store and get it in time for Christmas. Store them with your Christmas platters and dishes.

15) Make sure to carve out some time for yourself to rest and relax during the holiday season

Working yourself into a frenzy will not help you enjoy your holiday. One of my favorite personal memories of the Christmas season is when my children were little enough to take naps. Every afternoon after I would put them down for a nap, I would make myself a cup of coffee, lights the lights on the Christmas tree, and read from an Advent pamphlet I had gotten from my church. It had one reading for each day of the Advent season and was a nice way to remind myself what Christmas was really all about. You may take comfort in reading the Christmas story during the season so carve out one night per week, after the kids are in bed, or early in the morning to sit by the tree alone with a cup of coffee or tea and read your Bible, or write in a journal. Breathe in the scent of the tree, light a scented candle to enhance your experience. Just sit and contemplate the real meaning of Christmas.

16) Delegate, delegate, delegate

The closer you get to Christmas, the more pressure you will probably be feeling. Delegate whatever you can to your spouse or children. Can your spouse wrap the remaining gifts while watching a football game? Have him do it. Can your teen children make cookies/candy, wrap gifts or decorate? Enlist them to help and if they gripe tell them that the Christmas season will be much calmer for you if they help, and will make for a better holiday for everyone.

17) Food shop as close to Christmas as possible

This makes sure your refrigerator is not full too soon, and all your food is fresh. Make sure you have a complete list with you when you go to the store. Start your list a week early and add to it over the week as you think of things you still need to add to it. On Christmas Eve morning, the stores are quite empty early and it's a great time to shop before they get too crowded or run out of necessities.

With all of these things in place in advance, you should be able to enjoy your actual holiday a lot more. Hopefully, you can reach Christmas night without exhaustion and to look back and have enjoyed your Christmas season more than ever before.


I love using my collection of teddy bears to decorate for Christmas!
I love using my collection of teddy bears to decorate for Christmas! | Source
Teddy bears on the front stairs offer a warn holiday greeting to Christmas visitors, but I know I need to clean and polish the wood on the stairs first!
Teddy bears on the front stairs offer a warn holiday greeting to Christmas visitors, but I know I need to clean and polish the wood on the stairs first! | Source
The kitchen marble shelf needs to be cleaned and polished before I can add the Department 56 Christmas in the City display!
The kitchen marble shelf needs to be cleaned and polished before I can add the Department 56 Christmas in the City display! | Source
If you are suffering from The Christmas Crazies, here's a picture to make you laugh and give you some stress relief. It's my dog Reeses, who actually likes to dress up. Isn't she sweet?!!!
If you are suffering from The Christmas Crazies, here's a picture to make you laugh and give you some stress relief. It's my dog Reeses, who actually likes to dress up. Isn't she sweet?!!! | Source
All of these items were free at Black Friday sales at pharmacies in my area using register reward programs. I used them all for stocking stuffers for my young adult children.
All of these items were free at Black Friday sales at pharmacies in my area using register reward programs. I used them all for stocking stuffers for my young adult children. | Source

Christmas Crazies Poll

Do You Suffer from The Christmas Crazies?

See results

© 2012 Karen Hellier

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    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      5 years ago from Georgia

      It's getting pretty close to Christmas. How many of you are avoiding the Christmas crazies this year? Are you stressed out and feeling a bit crazy right now?

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      torrilyn,

      Thanks for reading and for such a positive comment. I am hoping it will help some people have a calmer Christmas in the years to come!

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 

      6 years ago

      Great hub. Organized and well written. Thanks.

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      shiningirisheyes,

      My ex-husband used to get mad at me because I would buy things for gifts all year in advance and then not remember which closet or hiding spot I had put them in!!! I learned the hard way about that one too!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      6 years ago from Upstate, New York

      The advice for having one particular spot for your items is very important. I learned this the hard way when attempting to remember where I put the items I had purchased in July!

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      twoseven,

      I hope you have a wonderful shopping experience today and can start your gift closet off well. Thanks for stopping by.

    • twoseven profile image

      twoseven 

      6 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Fantastic advice! I feel like I get a tiny bit better each year, but this really gives me a great roadmap to be super prepared for Christmas next year! I especially love the master list idea. And I am going to head to the stores today to get all the bargains!

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 

      6 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Deal!

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      RelationshipC,

      Thanks for reading and commenting. I guess that's a good lesson for all of us...never look up the prices AFTER you have given the gift. That must have been depressing. Well, there's always NEXT year, right? And we will BOTH do better...let's make a pact, OK?!!!

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 

      6 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      I'm also one of those people who say, "Next year I will do so much better!" This year I failed miserably!

      I like the buying in bulk idea and the buying on cyber Monday idea. I had bought some presents for my parents this year that were expensive - on Christmas day I made the stupid decision to look up the prices of those items and found them HALF PRICE. They really hike up the prices before Christmas for all of us slackers...and even though it was the gift that mattered, not the price, I would much rather buy something twice as nice for the price I paid instead of twice as much as the actual cost.

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      billybuc,

      I take this to mean you are very organized and have all your Christmas preparations under control each year, including purchasing and wrapping gifts, cleaning the house, decorating and preparing the Christmas meal, or that you enlist the help of everyone around you, or have someone else to do it all! Whichever it may be, sounds like you have an enjoyable Christmas season and I am happy for you. Each year I get closer to that goal!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      6 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I know this is a tough time of year for many, but it's never been so for me. Good suggestions for those who need it. Happy New Year Karen!

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      wetnosedogs,

      Don't worry about what you didn't do and pat yourself on the back for what you did do. Wow, Christmas day wrapping? Never heard of that but if it works for you, that's great. Personally I don't think I could sleep on Christmas Eve knowing that I still had gifts to wrap. My style is to stay up late on Christmas eve. One night I actually fell asleep sitting up at 3:00 a.m. while wrapping gifts. Hm, come to think of it, I was wrapping on Christmas day, wasn't I?!!! Thanks for stopping by and for your comment!

    • Karen Hellier profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Hellier 

      6 years ago from Georgia

      Hawaiianodysseus,

      Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment. I hadn't thought about it being similar to the 30 day challenge or your goal setting. Good thoughts and I appreciate the share very much. It's good to be back on hub Pages again...in order to avoid the Christmas Crazies, I had to spend a lot of time on the preparations and have missed being here with my fellow hubbers. but I am back now and grateful for your comments!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      6 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      A hub about being efficiently organized and prepared for Christmas that, in itself, was a wonderful example of efficiency and organization for hub writing! You did a masterful job of taking a universal subject and providing your readers with a calm and collected way to not only cope with but potentially even beat the Christmas "crazies" and thus have time, as you meaningfully illustrated, to slow down and reflect upon the real meaning of Christmas. Well done, Karen, and just like the way I'm planning to meet my goals for 2013, especially in the area of writing where organization is key, I would like to give these excellent tips of yours a try. In a huge if strange way, the tips run parallel to how one might prepare for a 30-day challenge. Loving this hub so much I'm sharing it and doing my usual stumbling around with the social media thing! : )

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 

      6 years ago from Alabama

      Great list, some of which I did. Mostly shopping early, but shame on me I wrapped presents Christmas Day - it's a chore I don't enjoy doing. I did mail Christmas cards late, too. This is a great list to follow, however. I am just being me.

      Happy Holidays.

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