Simplifying Christmas - Make Xmas easier and less stressful
Christmas - A Stressful Time?
Christmas should be a time of celebration, of family, a time to enjoy some much needed rest from work, a time to give and share and enjoy yourself. All too often however it is the exact opposite. For many people Christmas, the whole month of December in fact if not even longer, is a time of stress and worrying. Have I bought a present for everyone I should have? What if someone buys me a gift and I haven't got them one? How much wine will we need, and should I buy Turkey or Goose? If I buy Tom the Xbox he's asked for, do I need to buy Denise an equally expensive gift? How am I going to be able to afford all of this? If any of these questions sound familiar, then read on!
Buying Christmas Presents
One of the biggest and most stressful jobs at Christmas is buying all the presents for people. The number of presents you need to buy will vary widely depending on your circumstances, but for a lot of people it can get to be a scarily long list of people, and it can be a very time consuming and expensive process buying, wrapping and delivering all of those presents. Here are some ideas for how to simplify.
- Do you really need to buy presents for all the people on your list? Some people won't buy you anything back, so you should be able to stop buying for them without feeling guilty. For the rest, think long and hard about whether you want to be buying for them. The best way to deal with this, rather than just stopping, is having a word with them well before the present buying season and suggest not getting a present for each other. They will probably be relieved and glad you mentioned it. If you don't want to come right out and suggest stopping buying presents you could always say something like 'why don't we just meet for a nice coffee and a cake' that can be our present to each other. This usually goes down well!
- Adopt a one present per person rule (apart from perhaps your spouse, young children etc). Somehow, present buying seems to multiply and what was once one present becomes two or three. The temptation to just 'buy something extra to go with it' or thinking 'I haven't got quite enough' is all too easy. Resist! Spend a little extra on their main present if you must, but all the extra little presents really adds to the stress.
- Vouchers - The ultimate, easy gift. And don't think it is boring, that people aren't going to want it. If it is the right sort of voucher, most people will be delighted. For many people, the best one will probably be Amazon, simply because of the huge range of things it sells, and the fact that the prices are generally the cheapest, or not far off. There's nothing worse than getting a voucher for a high street shop where everything is twice the price of Amazon.
- One gift per family. Where appropriate, consider just buying one present for the whole family, something they can all enjoy together (a game, DVD & some popcorn for a family film night, bottles of wine...)
- Secret Santa - this is a great simplifier and time and money saver. If there's a group of you that buy for each other, either family or more likely friends or work colleagues, rather than everyone buying for everyone else, suggest a Secret Santa. Everyone buys a present for one person at random, and they each receive one present. Suddenly you are buying a lot fewer presents, everyone is still getting something, and if you're just getting for one person you can get something really nice.
- Gift bags - rather than spending time wrapping all the presents, just buy gift bags. Saves lots of time Even better get stores to wrap up presents for you, particularly if they do it for free!
If people's Christmas gift lists are long, it will be nothing compared to the length of their Christmas card list, and writing Christmas cards can be a time consuming process. Here's some tips to simplify.
- Send e-cards instead. Quicker, you save paper so are environmentally friendly and it is cheaper (often free). There's lots of fun musical and animated cards you can send too.
- For people you aren't bothered about sending cards to, wait to see if they send you one. If they don't, you don't bother and then you won't need to send one the next year either. They may be thinking the same thing, so you have the perfect stand-off, neither party need do anything!
- Suggest a charity box at work. Instead of sending cards, you each make a donation to charity equivalent to how much you'd spend on cards, stamps etc. Much quicker and easier, and you are doing a good deed too.
- Rather than write long messages inside each card, write a generic letter updating people on how you and your family are doing and what you have been up to during the year. You may think this is a bit impersonal, but I always used to love getting those of people - you find out a lot more than you would if they were writing to you individually.
Simple Christmas Decoration
There's no need to go overboard with Christmas decorations, and there's no need to find the biggest tree you can fit in your house (only to find out it is slightly too tall and have to chop the top off). A few well placed tasteful decorations can look much nicer than lots and lots of standard ones. If you've got children who are old enough, let them decorate the tree, put up decorations and put up Christmas cards each day. They'll probably see it as exciting and want to do it, particularly if you big it up and make it into a special thing. You can also make decorations and they look beautiful. There are loads of videos on YouTube like this one.
Lastly, don't leave it too long to put up the decorations. The nearer Christmas you get, the more stressful things get, so put your decorations up early in December. You will get the enjoyment of them for longer and you will have put them up while things are still quiet, saving you some stress and hassle.
Christmas Dinner is often a very stressful event for the cook, especially as it comes on Christmas Day, the busiest day of the year, and you can't prepare much in advance. Here is a few tips to help out.
- Do you need the big Turkey? Often lots of it will go to waste, or you'll get fed up of eating nothing but turkey for a week (Turkey Curry, Turkey & chips, turkey sandwiches...). Consider getting a chicken, turkey crown or some other roast instead.
- Don't overdo it. Christmas Day, everyone is filling themselves up on chocolate, treats, fizzy drinks, booze etc etc. So serving the biggest dinner ever probably won't be neccesary.
- Share the load - give people different tasts - peel the carrots, roast the potatoes, make the gravy, set the table etc.
- Does Christmas Dinner need to be at lunchtime on Christmas Day? You could have it on Christmas Eve evening, which might be nicer and more relaxing. Or plan on having it at teatime rather than lunchtime - for many families it gets to that time anyway, so why not just go ahead and make it official? That way you won't be constantly struggling to work to an unmanageable time limit.
What are your tips?
What are your suggestions for a simpler, stress free Christmas? Share your ideas in the comments!