Whether you associated Christmas with joy and delight, or stress and sadness, here are some ideas to make this festive season a happier one. Image courtesy of stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net
With Christmas just around the corner, many kinds of emotions are elicited. For some of us, fortunately, this time of year is reminiscent of predominantly happy sentiments. If this is the case, there is a good chance “The Silly Season” has been associated with happy memories, such as cohesive family gatherings. Not so happily for some, it can be a time of sadness, reminding others of loved ones not present to celebrate this time. For yet others, it is a time of high stress, with loved ones all together during which past conflicts, or the memories of them, resurface.
For some, even though loved ones have and continue to get along together quite well, there is a self-imposed or a family history that some feel puts pressure on them to buy lots of presents, or cook the perfect dinner for Christmas day. Other stressors may be remembering who to invite and arranging invitations for auxiliary parties, in the case of larger or extended families.
Even for the happiest of festive gatherings, there can be a big ‘whew’ of relief for many reasons when it is all over…
And it all seems to be starting earlier each year. I know at my local shopping complex, Christmas trees, and a nativity scene where children are already lining up to see Santa are in place.
Here are some ideas to have the happiest, least stressful Christmas – possible, that is!
1. Immediately get rid of any self-expectation to do things ‘perfectly’. You are human, and in 99.99% of cases, others do not expect this from you.
2. Plan a budget so that you don’t go broke. You can look for low-cost fantastic presents for everyone in catalogues now out. Even stores like the “Reject Shop” have cheap Christmas items, like bon-bons, and boxes of chocolates. Many magazines give ideas for low-budget yet delicious Christmas meals.
3. Plan what you will buy for your loved ones ahead of time – it doesn’t have to be multitudes of presents. People more than anything just like to be thought of. People can even feel guilty and a need to reciprocate if you buy too much. This can already help lower the expenditure associated with Christmas.
4. Keep receipts so that items can be swapped or in the case of children’s toys taken back if they break due to poor manufacturing (not the kids, unfortunately)
5. It might be a little more costly, but if you find planning Christmas dinner stressful, sometimes booking ahead to a restaurant like Sizzlers can be an alternative. They can provide terrific meals, and there’s no washing up after, either.
6. My father died when I was five My family and I make a point of going to the cemetary. This can help ease the pain of not having loved ones there.
7. If you have two sides of the family who conflict, and you feel they won’t ‘get it together’ on the day, perhaps plan two separate days – but to be fair, don’t expect yourself to cook for both. Or perhaps one side can come later in the day for afternoon tea. Or ‘eating out’ for Christmas can help provide incentives to be on their best behaviour, as the family doesn’t want to fight in public! Or if there are children present, you can firmly make the rule that ‘you don’t want arguments in front of the children’ – which you don’t!
8. Another idea to decrease stress at the cost of a small donation coin is to take advantage of free Christmas Wrapping they have at many local Shopping Complexes.
9. Do a little bit of shopping at a time. Make sure you have money left for food, whether it be money for a home-cooked meal, as well as petrol etc for travelling to relative’s places. If you have money left over, then get those extra gifts that are so easy to get on impulse when you see them, and if it’s pay day, but later leaves you wishing you hadn’t…
10. If you are worried about the house looks, don’t! Most families come to see each other, not the place! Or, if you willing to spend money and preserve sanity, you may consider a cleaner just before Christmas.
11. Rather than buy a Christmas tree, see if you can find one in your back yard, or get one cheaply at Bunnings.
12. Consider making decorations instead of buying them.
13. Delegate – if your kids are old enough, get them to help with cooking, cleaning, wrapping, or card-writing.
14. Speaking of Christmas cards, you can get some value cards I noticed at the Reject Shop which were only two dollars for twenty, albeit of the same design. However, since a lot of stress comes from money pressures, it’s worth thinking about.
15. If you children still believe in Santa, and have written rather extensive Christmas lists, you can perhaps tell them that the reindeer get back-aches if they are forced to carry too much at once, at the expense of other children if they then have to go to remedial back rubbers! Or, that Santa has arthritis. By all means, preserve their belief and keep their magical attitude alive with what they want to some degree, but as mentioned before, your purse is only so big, and they don’t want stressed out parents either!!
Have a Merry Christmas that’s fully of “Ho, ho, ho” not “Ho, Ho, NO!”