Top Six Ways To a Stress-Free Christmas

The hustling and bustling of the Christmas season is upon us. Don’t get caught up in unnecessary hassle this year. Read these helpful tips and maybe you won’t feel like wringing someone’s neck!

1. Determine your holiday budget. With the state of the economy, some of us are on a tight budget and Christmas shopping shouldn’t put undo pressure on your wallet or charge card. So make a list of the people you need to buy a gift for and then ask yourself “how much can I afford to spend on all the gifts I need to purchase?” Then try to stick to the budgeted amount. Since everyone is in the same financial situation, you may want to scale down the gift exchanges this year. A simple phone call to a relative or friend to ask if they would rather skip the gift-giving and instead attend a free concert or Christmas play together may be a welcome suggestion. Besides, Christmas shouldn’t be about gifts you give from your wallet; it should be about gifts you are giving from your heart.

2. Set priorities. If a super clean house is important to you and you won’t have time to get it all done, consider hiring a housekeeper to help with the heavy duty cleaning. If entertaining is important to you, you can reduce the amount of cooking on your part by buying ready-made appetizers, asking your guests to bring a side dish or their favorite dessert, and keeping the drinks simple. A pitcher of Sangria goes a long way. If you prefer non-alcoholic, a pitcher of sparkling spritzer made with any juice (pomegranate or cranberry is good) combined with seltzer or sparkling water, is very nice at this time of year.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Why try to do everything yourself. Enlist the help of your spouse, children and even grandchildren! There’s no reason your husband can’t help with the shopping (if he has a designated list), wash the kitchen floor, vacuum the rugs, or even wrap a few gifts. Depending on their ages, children like to help with dusting, decorating, wrapping presents, baking cookies and even loading the dishwasher. Let others take some of the burden off your shoulders. So what if isn’t Martha Stewart-perfect, it doesn’t have to be!

4. Learn to say NO. There are so many parties, family gatherings, and get-togethers with friends and neighbors that you can’t possibly attend all of them. If you overextend yourself, you will be too tired to really enjoy the event and your hosts would not want stressed or exhausted guests at their party. So you have to give yourself permission to decline an invitation without seeming to be rude or unappreciative. At this time of year, we all tend to agree to do more than our bodies can handle and many of us will compromise our health just to attend a party!

5. Remember the reason for the season. Think of others less fortunate and you’ll feel better about yourself. You might want to “adopt” a needy family who doesn’t have the money for any kind of Christmas this year. Or maybe you could give back to your community by delivering presents to a local homeless shelter or the children’s ward at your local hospital. Soup kitchens are always looking for volunteers especially around the holidays. You could use this experience to teach your children and grandchildren that as nice as it is to receive, it is even better to give. The smile you put on a needy child’s face with a new coat or toy is worth more than 10 presents under your own tree!!! It will warm your heart!

6. Take time for yourself. You have been running around all over town after a full day at your job. Try to find a little time to relax. A 20 minute power nap or a hot bath is a good way to de-stress. How about a walk in the woods? Or sitting down with a cup of tea or hot chocolate while you listen to your favorite Christmas CD? Aromatherapy does wonders to create a calm environment. The smell of pine from your Christmas tree, a wood-burning stove, cinnamon scented candles, or just a pot of hot cider on the stove can change your mood and help to relax you. Whatever you do, keep in mind that this truly is “the most wonderful time of the year.”

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