How to have a stress-free Christmas

Christmas can be a stressful time due to many different reasons. What are these reasons, and is it possible to have a stress-free Christmas?

Christmas is meant to be a time spent with family and to be merry. But for many people, this time of year can be rather stressful. Be it because you need to get your Christmas present at the last minute, or because you hear those annoyingly cheery Christmas carols everywhere, this time of the year is considered one of the most stressful by many health officials. So, what can you do to avoid getting too stressed during Christmas? Is it even possible to have a stress-free Christmas celebration? We have some tips prepared for you.

Getting presents

There are many things that can stress you out during the Christmas shopping. Too many people around you, not walking fast enough, while you need to get from point A to point B as fast as possible? Do you have enough money to buy presents for everyone? And if you do, what kind of present? Here are some steps to reduce that stress:

Set a budget. First, make sure that your usual expenses such as rent and bills are accounted for. Then plan for any other expenses over the holidays, like visits to your family or friends as well as any parties you may be hosting between the years. After that, you can work out how much you want to spend on gifts.

Store-bought, online or self-made? It is not necessary to brave the Christmas crowds to get your shopping done. Nowadays it is often much easier to buy your presents online, and faster too! If you are unsure what to get a person, why not make something yourself? I’m sure everyone would be happy about a box of homemade pastries or any other present you made yourself. Personalised gifts show that you put some thought into it, as well as the time spent making it.

Make one decision at a time. If you try to do everything at once, it will only overwhelm you. If you do your Christmas shopping over different phases you limit the time you need to spend in overcrowded stores and shopping malls, which greatly reduces your stress as well. You also don’t need to listen to those annoying Christmas jingles all the time.

shopping centre, stress-free Christmas

Organising your Christmas feast

Being the person responsible for organising the food is always stressful, not just at Christmas. You need to check if you have all the ingredients, and if there is enough food for everyone. And even then, sometimes mishaps happen and suddenly the whole dinner is ruined because you forgot to take the turkey out of the oven or some other mishap. Don’t let that deter you from having a great time.

Delegate. The first, and probably most important, rule is that you don’t have to do everything on your own. If you are cooking for your family, it is only fair that the rest should help as well (even if they may complain about it).

Consider keeping it simple. Cooking food for six or more people on your own can be quite time consuming and exhausting. Why not keep it simple and do a buffet-style dinner? Every family member can bring one or two dishes. With that, you immediately have enough food to feed everyone and every person should have at least one dish they like on the table.

Make a list. Make a list of every food and ingredients needed. Anything non-perishable can be bought in advance and you can avoid some of the last-minute shopping on Christmas Eve.

person baking gingerbread

Relationships during Christmas

Many different generations together at one table is the perfect breeding ground for disagreements and discord. Especially with the current political climate that highlights the generational divide in opinions. Arguments at the dinner table on Christmas Day can be really stressful, not only for bystanders but for the arguing parties as well.

Be realistic. If certain family members bicker all year long, they probably will keep doing it at Christmas too. If you can, try to seat them as far away from each other as possible to minimize the damage.

Avoid known triggers. If politics is a touchy subject in your family, avoid talking about it. If someone brings up the topic, use a distraction and change the topic (I am aware that this won’t work on everyone, some people are really set in their views).

Give them something to do. People involved in after-lunch activities are less likely to get into arguments. Plan for something to do after the food, even if it is just some board games.

Leave if it gets too much. Have some excuses planned to leave the room, even for just a few minutes. Just by having planned a couple of escape routes, you will probably feel less stressed anyway. But by actually leaving the situation, even for ten minutes, you will help clear your mind and relax.

Have something to look forward to. If you know Christmas with your family can be tough, plan something with your ‘chosen family’ (friends, neighbours etc.) for afterwards.

Things can always go wrong

Despite your grand plans, no Christmas celebration will run seamlessly, there is always something that can go wrong. Rather than trying to have the perfect Christmas and getting stressed over any problems that may occur, view these mishaps as an opportunity to make your celebration unique and memorable. You will certainly remember a party where the Christmas decorations caught fire or someone fell into the Christmas tree (the last one happened with my family and I definitely won’t forget that particular Christmas).

Let yourself enjoy Christmas

Don’t forget during all the planning and preparing that you’re allowed to enjoy the Christmas celebrations as well! It is only possible to have a stress-free Christmas if you don’t let the stress get to you. When you have the time, relax and take in some of the Christmas spirit for yourself. This time of year is meant to be a happy one, so if you don’t allow yourself to have some fun, the holiday loses its meaning.

I hope these tips on how to have a stress-free Christmas were helpful. If you have any other helpful advice that you want to share, let us know in the comment section below. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Jacqueline Russe
Jacqueline Russe

Jacqueline is a German journalist and editor for Babylon Radio who likes comics, manga and video games. She is a state-certified translator for both English and German, currently working on her Bachelor's in Technical Translation.

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