10 Tips For A Stress Free Magical Christmas

10 tips for a stress free Christmas from the International Elf Service

Wonderful though Christmas is, it can also be an incredibly stressful time of the year for many families, so I’ve put together 10 tips for a stress free magical Christmas! Whether the stress is tied in with family members, food, getting ‘the right gifts’, travel, finances, too many decisions, leaving everything until the last minute or not doing as much as you’d hoped in the way of decorations or funky wrapping…the good news is, the majority of these can be relieved by planning! Christmas is meant to be fun, relaxed and without stresses!  Think cosy, simple, thoughtful and togetherness.

The best way to approach these things is to start early (now) and break it down into bite sized sections.  December is for enjoying Christmas, not getting increasingly frazzled, while panic buying an unnecessary 417 presents.

Firstly, the boring but necessary things to think about….

Don’t be ill on Christmas Day
This is absolutely critical.

Start Lists For Each Of The Following Suggestions…
Although rather un-magical, lists are incredibly helpful for containing our many scrambled thoughts in manageable and workable ‘right sized’ pieces. The idea is to write the list you find the hardest and then tackle each one separately.  Try not to deviate from what you’ve written down, and if you do, it needs to be for good reason!  Put all your lists together and somewhere where you can find them!

This is mostly in the ‘expectation management department’, but I feel it needs a separate category as it can be such an emotive subject.  I hear so often about parents with young families traipsing around the country (or world), to visit relatives because they feel ‘they ought to’.  They come back home absolutely exhausted and just wish everyone would come to them for a change or better still, not be around at all.

My advice would be to decide how and where you would like to spend your family Christmas as early in the year as possible, and then tell everyone straightaway.  This gives people time to come to terms with arrangements they weren’t expecting, or hoping for, and gives them the chance to generate new ones for themselves if necessary.  It works both ways though. Try not to be offended if other people’s plans are different to what you were hoping for.

As finances are often a big component of life’s stresses, particularly around Christmas time, we’ll go with that one next…

Calculate Your Christmas Budget

10 Tips For A Stress Free Christmas by the International Elf Service
It doesn’t matter what your budget is, but allocate how much you can, or want, to spend on Christmas this year and stick to it. So many people overspend at Christmas time and there really is no need to.  You’ll need to consider (and put a cost next to):

  • Any travel you need to do.
  • How many people will be staying with you and how many meals you’ll be providing?  Don’t forget you can ask guests to bring a dish or a contribution.  There’s no reason why you hosting means you have to be responsible for feeding the five thousand.  Christmas should be a team effort and everyone is usually very happy to take a full part in the proceedings. Some people naturally know what to contribute, whereas many can’t really anticipate. Do let people know what would be most helpful.
  • How many people you’re buying gifts for and can you, or do you need to, reduce it at all?  Perhaps if you’re part of a large family where they are lots of children, you could all agree to buy a little something for the kids but not for the adults?
  • Have you included Secret Santa gifts, gifts to take to any friends hosting Christmas parties and any contributions to take if you’re visiting family?
  • How many on your list would enjoy a homemade or secondhand gift (usually cheaper too)? I personally love homemade gifts and find them incredibly thoughtful and actually more valuable to me.
  • How much will you need to spend on Christmas decorations, or the components to make them, including your Christmas tree?  These sneaky extra costs can add up!

Is the final total something you can manage and does it look reasonable, or do you need to tweak it?

Cull Toys & Books Ready For New Arrivals
Having done this in desperation after Christmas for a couple of years, we’ve now wised up to doing this before Christmas. If you’re able to sell any of it on eBay, it’s a great way to earn some extra pennies too.  Not only does it mean we aren’t swamped with too much stuff, but it means other families can then give our grown-out-of toys and books as Christmas presents!  Used and unused second hand toys and books are just as good as new ones.  There’s a charity near us called The Toy Project, who collects from your house and either distributes the toys to local hospitals or reboxes pre loved toys to sell for charity.  I love it.  Perhaps there’s something like that near you?  If not, please don’t forget your local hospitals, who will be so grateful.  Children who visit them get SO much pleasure out of them and they can be an absolute life saver.

Stock Up For Those Christmas Stockings!
I store everything I buy through the year in a plastic bag for each of the kids, strung from a coat hanger in one of our cupboards. This stops the kids from finding everything, and me from overbuying because I can’t remember what I’ve already bought! It’s never too early to start collecting things.  Just keep your eyes peeled throughout the year and pick up little bits and pieces on special offer.  You’ll be amazed at how much variety you can get for very little.  Don’t forget to include things the kids need anyway (new toothbrushes, socks…) and if you’d like some ideas of things you could make, Maggy from Red Ted Art tells us how to make 5 Brilliant Stocking Filler Ideas, including a minion bookmark and a Harry potter wand!

10 Tips for a stress free Christmas by the International Elf Service

The Eating Bit
* My current hot tip is to have the main meal after 5pm so you don’t need to get up in the middle of the night at the crack of dawn to start the turkey off.  You’ll be in a much better state!

Would you like to do something special for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day? Or maybe not…perhaps pre bought buffet style, or beans on toast will be perfect for you.  Out of the people coming, do any have allergies or any dislikes that you need to consider?  Have a look HERE for some ideas.

You can bake your Christmas Cake & Christmas pudding months ahead!

Think about, and decide on the menu early.  Is there anything you can prepare, or buy in and freeze now?  If not now, how soon can you?  Maybe set a reminder on your phone to do this?  This will help you to spread the cost and minimise the work and stress nearer the time.  Mad as it seems, write your grocery shopping list for Christmas now, either using a good old fashioned pen and paper, or start a spreadsheet in Excel.  Don’t forget meals, drinks, snacks and any extras, including Christmas crackers, napkins and any batteries you might need!  Get all the thinking and decision making done now and leave December for enjoying!

10 Tips for a stress free Christmas from the International Elf Service
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Wrapping & Decorations
…something a bit different? Do you ever wish you’d spent a bit more time thinking about how you wrap everything?  Are there any wrapping or Christmas decoration ideas you’ve seen on Pinterest or You Tube you’d like to give a go?  Maybe you’d like to make some beautiful hand made gift tags, try out some funky hand-stamped wrapping, or perhaps decide on a colour scheme? Now’s the time to enjoy a relaxed rummage through Pinterest, source the components you will need, and enjoy doing it.  You can store the finished products well away until you’re ready to use them in December.

10 Tips for a stress free Christmas
Photo by Andrew Neel, courtesy of Unsplashed

Homemade Gifts
There is something rather lovely about settling down to make a gift for someone, and something even lovelier about receiving one.  Don’t be thinking raggedy old tat.  Think simple, chic, thoughtful, unique, useful and beautiful. Who on your list would appreciate a homemade gift?  Starting early means you can really enjoy choosing what you’re going to make, getting everything together and enjoying a stress free time making it. If you’re stuck for inspiration, have a look at our ever growing Pinterest Board for Homemade Gift Ideas.  Ear mark some time to get creating and enjoy!  You don’t need to finish it all in one sitting either.

How about the Gift Of Time?  This could absolutely be worth it’s weight in gold.  A voucher for time together to have a coffee & cake, a week’s worth of babysitting, or ‘any weather’ dog walking…how amazing would that be?  You can have fun designing vouchers for free on Canva.

A Magical Christmas

Write Your Christmas Cards Early
Whether they’re homemade Christmas cards, hand drawn and printed on-line, a rather gorgeous one from a boutique, or ones you bought last year…getting them done early can be a lifesaver.  We all envisage a lovely cosy evening writing cards, with a glass of red wine on the go, but this often ends up as a hand aching quick scrawl ‘to get the rest of them done’.  Spend time with them, do two at a time over a period of weeks or months.  Post them knowing you’re sending them with love.

Set Expectations!
So, if you have a child who’s been asking for an Xbox and they’re not going to get one, tell them early and explain why. Reassure them that this has absolutely no reflection on how much you love them!  Kids are actually very resilient and often just understanding a little of the ‘why’ can help them get on to the same page as you. As a child we had very simple presents and I loved them all.  A pack of paper, pens, new socks…sometimes the more you give a child, the more they expect.

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful.  Do you have any other tips you can add or have worked for you?  We’d love to here them, so please leave them in a comment below.  Thank you!

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