As the song says, “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Let your heart be light. From now on your troubles will be out of sight.”
Songs like this ring in our hearts and have us wishing for a perfect Christmas. But although the Christmas season can be exciting and fun, but it can also be exhausting or lonely for some. Keep in mind some simple but helpful Christmas stress tips for making the season more enjoyable and less stressful.
One: Keep Your Focus on the Reason for the Season
The Christmas season – no matter what your religious faith – is a time of celebration and spiritual refreshment. Christmas can be a time to connect with family and friends and find ways to serve other people. It’s an ideal time to teach your children that Christmas is not just a time of getting but can also be a time of giving.
The beginning of a new year can be a time of new commitments, new beginnings and new opportunities. The season offers a reminder and a chance to reorder our priorities and make the most of each day. Adjusting our perspective in light of spiritual teachings can bring brightness and hope into our daily lives throughout the coming year.
Two: Pace Yourself
When I think of Christmases past, I think of shopping, baking, visiting, decorating, wrapping, and going to social events, try to make Christmas perfect. It was usually followed by illness that would lay me out in January. Like many people, I arrived at Christmas day too exhausted from preparations to actually enjoy it. One of my favorite Christmas steps is: don’t overdue.
Many people find it helpful to limit the amount of time and energy spent on any part of the preparations for the holiday at a given time. Some people structure their days to shop for two hours, then rest for one hour, and then do another task. It is also important to pace yourself in terms of activities and events.
Because of health issues, I personally have found that I have to minimize the holidays. Although my daughter lives only one and a half hours away, we don’t celebrate Christmas with her and her family. With both of them working and raising four children, she and her husband meet themselves coming and going. They like to have Christmas at their home for just their family so that they can have time to rest and enjoy each other.
We have created a new tradition where they come to our house on New Year’s Day. We love to watch the Tournament of Roses Parade and I fix cheese blintzes for brunch. When we finish eating, we then open presents, and then they go on their way home. It’s fun and relaxing, the kids get to open presents a second time, and my husband and I aren’t overwhelmed.
Sometimes, what you need most is control over your time and activities. If you are becoming overwhelmed by the array of events and activities and you find that your schedule is filling rapidly, you might do well to make some choices. Limiting your activities to the most important events might help you pace yourself and prevent the exhaustion that can drain the fun from everything.
Three: Don’t Be Alone Unless You Want to Be
The holiday season can be very sad and depressing for those who find themselves alone. If you don’t have family or friends nearby with whom you plan to spend part of the holiday, don’t despair. You can still spend the day with others. Check in your community for gatherings of others who would otherwise be alone.
Another Christmas survival tip is find a community opportunity to help others on the holiday. Most communities have programs that offer meals to the homeless and needy. You can be with others and spend the day by volunteering to help with preparation and serving of the meals. When you serve others, you tend to forget about yourself, and you will feel wonderful about how you spent your day.
Four: Set a Budget and Don’t Overspend
Overspending during the holidays is very easy. But it can create a lot of stress in January when the bills start to arrive. I cringe when I see the television commercials for Fingerhut. They encourage people to spend, spend, spend, because they only have to pay X amount of dollars per week. Monthly payments due can add up quickly.
It is so much fun making purchases of gifts for children and grandchildren that the budget can easily be forgotten. Be honest and realistic about what you can afford to spend on gifts and entertaining. Then stick to the budget.
I think that parents frequently feel pressured to get their kids the latest popular toys or electronic gadgets. Keep in mind that a modestly-priced gift that fits the recipient can mean more than the most expensive new thing available. Some families manage spending by setting clear limits on the cost of gifts for the adults in the family. This allows them to spend more on the younger children.
Be creative in thinking about holiday spending and try to keep your focus on the right gift for each individual rather than the most expensive. Something we do in our family is to throw in some inexpensive gifts that are practical. I have received beautifully wrapped spatulas from my husband. The more things there are to unwrap, the more fun it is. Bags of gummy bears, tubes of lip balm, new toothbrushes, packages of gum, and new socks are just a few examples of inexpensive gifts that can be given in addition to that ‘one thing’ the recipient has asked for.
Also, you might think about doing some thrift shopping. Last year I went to a consignment shop and found lots of clothes for little money that my daughter and grandchildren were thrilled about. Thinking outside the box will help you to not feel like the Grinch in January.
Five: Remember Your Dietary Needs
The last Christmas survival tip is to watch your mouth. Many of us have special dietary needs. Whether you are just eating smart or are watching sugars, fats and cholesterol, try to maintain a healthy diet – even during the holidays. In most cases, it is okay to splurge a bit at a holiday dinner or party if you adjust your diet during the rest of the day to keep our overall diet within bounds. Remember that making yourself sick by ignoring your dietary needs will not make the holiday more enjoyable for you or those around you. Also you will not have to shed MORE that the 20 pounds you resolve to lose when the New Year rolls around.
I hope these practical Christmas survival tips will help you get the greatest possible enjoyment and renewal from the holiday season. By keeping things in perspective and monitoring spending and diet, you will probably enjoy the Christmas season more. Pacing yourself, taking care of your body, avoiding debt and keeping a view to the meaning of the season in your belief system will help you avoid exhaustion and renew yourself as the New Year begins.
If you have any Christmas survival tips for making Christmas more blessed and less crazy, we’d love to hear all about it. Please leave a comment below and share this with friends who might be interested in keeping the holiday season at their house sane.
Be prepared … not scared,