How to Have a Stress-Free and Enjoyable Christmas
Preparing for the Christmas can be extremely stressful because doing so is a huge amount of work that may be fun for many, but can be pure drudgery for those who do the:
- sending of cards,
- gift giving,
- meal planning,
- gift buying, and
Fortunately, there are ways to make these jobs easier and less stressful if people follow some of the advice in this article.
People who wait until December to prepare for Christmas create many sleepless nights and stressful days for themselves.
Every year I hear people bemoaning the facts that they:
- have not yet bought cards (let alone prepared them),
- must find time to purchase and set up their decorations,
- still need to find presents for relatives and friends, and
- have yet to determine what they will serve for their holiday feasts.
They can avoid all of these issues simply by starting as early as October to plan and organize their holidays.
Doing this helps people to avoid the last minute rush and gives them the time they need to deal with gifting and carding.
The best way to plan is to start as early as October to set up spreadsheets that will organize tasks such as sending Christmas cards and gifts, decorating and meal planning.
Creating and using spreadsheets is the perfect way to organize your planning because doing so provides a visual you can use as a guide and also helps you manage your time more effectively.
Also, once you have them set up, you can use them every year and update as needed.
The most useful forms are those you create for:
- keeping and updating names and addresses of people to whom you plan to send cards,
- gift planning and costs, and
- holiday shopping.
Names and Addresses
Keeping and updating names and addresses keeps you from making mistakes and doing more work than is necessary when it comes to carding and gifting.
People die, divorce or change where they live, and relationships also change.
So, by updating, I have time to analyze situations and make informational changes as needed.
To save time and save money, shop for holiday cards shortly after the beginning of each year and save them to use for next Christmas.
Use your name and address lists to decide who will receive:
- electronic cards,
- hand delivered cards,
- hand delivered cards with gifts, and
- mailed cards.
This lets you know how many cards you will need, and provides a visual chart that helps you to keep track of your game plan.
123Greetings.com is a free site that allows you to choose beautiful animated cards, write personal messages in them, and set them up to arrive just prior to Christmas Day. To save time, you can send the same card to up to 100 people if you word it correctly.
To save money and time, it’s a smart move to use a site like this to send greetings to people with whom you only have casual relationships such as neighbors or people you rarely see.
In less than an hour, you can finish this task and leave plenty of time to prepare your hard copy cards.
If you create mailing labels ahead of time using a data base and a word processing mail merge program, you will never have to hand address any card you send. This will save you even more time.
You can also prepare and duplicate a holiday letter months in advance that you enclose with certain hard copy cards if you choose.
This done, you can then short personal messages and prep your cards in small batches over a period of days and weeks.
If you do all of this, your cards should mostly be ready to go by the end of October.
Mail as required the day after Thanksgiving, and hand carry the rest all in one day during December along with gifts, and you’re done.
While everybody else is dashing around and going crazy, you’ll be sitting with your feet up and relaxing!
Gift giving is often a big problem for people, because buying them is tricky, time consuming, expensive, can cause hard feelings and can be awkward.
Furthermore, it often wastes the time of recipients because they have to return items due to the fact that they neither want or need what you’ve given them.
You can save everybody a lot of time and trouble simply by giving cash or gift cards or eliminating gifting altogether except when it comes to children below high school age.
To some this may seem cold, but the truth is that doing this relieves a lot of stress for all concerned.
If you like, you can make it a point to buy boxes of previously wrapped Christmas chocolates so that if anybody does happen to give something to you, you’ll have an inexpensive but nice generic present to give as a return gift without looking like a total ogre.
Buying the candy can be done in one trip to Wal-Mart, you won’t have to wrap it and can quickly attach a card and bow to it if needed.
This method keeps things simple, avoids hard feelings, saves time, removes a certain amount of stress and still fulfills the basic needs of giving.
One important point to remember is that you should never give because you feel you are required to do so. Give only because it makes you happy, and you’ll avoid a lot of resentment.
- If you have small children, of course you will want to do some decorating that will include a tree and some pretty lights.
- If not, you can decorate minimally and still create a holiday atmosphere in your home.
Either way, if you want to reduce your work load and your stress, the best thing you can do is minimize an simplify.
- Choose a smaller tree, and only have one.
- Place lights in your front window and on the tree, but forget doing the entire house, the bushes and the garage.
- Put a nice wreath on your front door.
If you do only these three things, you won’t need more, but can add to these items if you choose.
To make things even easier, buy an artificial tree that comes with the lights and decorations already on it. Set it up, use it, take it down, store it and use it again every year!
I use the Bryelanhome brand shown below and have found it to be beautiful, relatively inexpensive and easy to use. I don't even have to decorate it!
This particular Christmas tree packs flat and is very easy to set up. Using it is just so much easier and faster than trying to buy a real tree everywhere and decorate it.
Conversely, you can buy an artificial tree that does not come fully decorated, but of course it will require more work on your part, which is what you are trying to reduce. I've done that in the past, but prefer the fully decorated tree I now have.
If you think you’ll miss the pine smell, there are sprays you can use that provide it!
Two hours max ought to get the job done. Do all of it a few weeks ahead of Christmas and you’ll be able to enjoy rather than worry.
I have used this tree for several years and love it because it comes fully decorated and is less costly than similar ones. It also is very easy to store and looks beautiful once it is set up.
While it’s nice to prepare a traditional holiday meal, it’s also a huge amount of work for the cook.
She kills herself working all day, and in less than ten minutes the meal ends, and she must do even more work to clean up the huge mess.
As a result, all diners have a lovely holiday, but the cook is half dead from exhaustion and gets very little pleasure from this special day.
To greatly reduce the work load, here is a plan that will provide a nice meal and cut your stress level significantly.
Create your holiday dinner with:
- a roasted chicken from Wal-Mart,
- stuffing mix,
- instant mashed potatoes,
- some marshmallows,
- a can or two of sweet potatoes,
- cream of mushroom soup,
- canned green beans,
- cranberry sauce,
- Hawaiian rolls,
- whipped cream, and
- a pumpkin pie.
Doing this takes relatively little time and provides a meal that, while not “home made” is still tasty and traditional in nature.
Your meal tastes great, provides for less cleanup and even leaves you with leftovers!
The Bottom Line
Christmas should not be a time when you have to kill yourself trying to make everybody else happy.
You are entitled to enjoy yourself, too.
I have been in (and seen) many situations where families end up with financial, social and relationship problems because of this holiday, that I simply did not want to have that happen to me anymore.
Been there, done that!
While you may not want to follow all of the advice I’ve given here, even using some of it will provide a different kind of Christmas that will be less work, a lower level of stress and a lot more fun for you.
Do you think you'd like to try having a lower stress and more enjoyable Christmas like the one described in this article?
© 2016 Dreamworker