Christmas is nearly here, which means family time, fun, and a seemingly endless list of things you need to get done. Try these ideas to keep the stress level down during the festive period.
Plan ahead. Whether you’re having family over for dinner, or travelling to be with others, don’t wait until the last minute to figure out the details. If you’re hosting, what are you cooking? What are others bringing? Get organised by making a list, and, where possible, simplifying things by preparing food in advance. If you’re travelling, try to resist the temptation of waiting until the night before to pack, and use a packing list to keep you on track.
Create a budget. Between gift-giving, going out to dinner, and purchasing the ingredients you need to whip up a feast at home, the festive season can get expensive. To spend money wisely and avoid financial stress, set up a budget before the season begins – and stick to it!
Make a list – and check it twice. Write down everything: who you plan to buy for, what you plan to buy, and how much you plan to spend. Don’t forget your Christmas card list. And if you’re hosting a meal at your house, make a list and shop early for any non-perishable ingredients to avoid making last minute trips to the shops!
Work backwards. Think about when you’d like gifts and cards in the recipients’ hands. Work backwards from there. Based on how long posting and delivering will take, figure out when you’ll need to finish writing cards and shopping…and when you should start!
Set priorities. What traditions matter most to you? Is there a special stuffing recipe you always make with your kids? Is grandma’s cookie recipe a must for dessert? Set priorities and do whatever you need to do to meet them. If your stuffing recipe takes a lot of time, skip the homemade cranberry sauce and buy pre-cut green vegetables to free up some time.
Shop online. It seems obvious, but why venture out with the crowds for a less-than-pleasant shopping experience when you can do it from home? Many shops offer the lure of free shipping this time of year; just make sure the return process isn’t too lengthy for the recipient should they need to send back.
Do it yourself to save money (and time). Feeling crafty? DIY projects are not only fun and affordable, they’re also great ways to get your kids involved. If you’re getting family pictures taken, get them printed and decorate picture frames with your kids to give away as gifts.
Be aware of your schedule. The festive period is a prime time for parties and wintry outings with family, work, and school – and it all adds up. That Sunday morning group ice skating adventure might sound incredibly fun, but when the date rolls around, you might wish you could enjoy a relaxing morning at home in front of the fireplace instead. Keep a calendar of your daily activities and holiday outings and don’t be afraid to say “no.”