Monday, 14 December 2015

21 top tips for a stress-free Christmas

  1. To misquote Abraham Lincoln, you cannot please all of the people all of the time. Don't try to achieve the impossible, but aim to have something for each individual (or age group if you have a very social Christmas) over the holiday period.
  2. Plan ahead. Wrap presents as you buy them, pre-prepare and store food which will keep in the cupboard or freezer.
  3. It's said we eat up around 6000 calories on Christmas Day, but we don’t need to. Abandon the starter and/or canap├ęs, cut back on the most time-consuming items on the menu and save everyone's waist line too. They'll thank you in the New Year!
  4. If you are catering for large numbers, ask everyone to prepare and bring one item from the menu. (Check who's bringing what so you don’t end up with ten bags of peeled sprouts and no Christmas pud!)
  5. Delegate, delegate, delegate. We know too many cooks can spoil the turkey but other people can hand around drinks and snacks, wash up, decorate the tree, tidy the house or walk the dog.
  6. Have some activities planned to break up the day; especially if they get people out into the fresh air to let off a bit of steam. Go for a walk, take the kids to the park or play football in the garden.
  7. If finances are a worry agree a price limit for pressies, or just buy for the kids this year.
  8. Is there one job that drives you crazy every year? Be inventive. Give it to someone else, change the way you do it or find a replacement that's less annoying.
  9. Be selective with your partying. You don’t have to go to them all. If you have trouble saying 'no' ask for our free advice sheet.
  10. Make sure you have plenty of batteries. So many toys need them but come without.
  11. The other side of that may be to agree a time limit in advance on the use of noisy toys! Plan a distraction for when it comes time to actually part with them for a while.
  12. Find a way to lighten the more repetitive tasks, like putting on your favourite video whilst wrapping gifts or writing cards.
  13. Schedule a break for yourself. Make time for things you normally do to relax - reading, watching TV, going for a run, knitting. They are even more important when you are busy.
  14. Unless you enjoy the crowds and queues, do at least part of your gift shopping on line. Books and videos are particularly good for this.
  15. Take advantage of shops and websites that will gift wrap for you.
  16. Put together presents that need assembly before Christmas Day if possible. It avoids disappointment by making sure you have all the pieces.
  17. Look for times when you are thinking words like 'must', 'have to' and 'should'. Are these things really that essential?
  18. Distraction and thinking ahead is often the best way to deal with warring or difficult relatives - has some good tips.
  19. If you worry about being lonely or alone over the holidays, plan some activity. Go out to Christmas lunch, volunteer at a shelter, residential home or hospital, pamper yourself a little.
  20. If you have experienced loss, or separation from loved ones this year, don't feel you have to be the life and soul of the party. It's OK to allow yourself (and others) time to be quiet or grieve.
  21. And finally, remember to think about yourself as much as you think about others.

Author: is a professional stress management coach, specialising in working with individuals and smaller employers to minimise stress and maximise feeling in control.
Debbie is has also written about helping people with IBS in the Hypnotherapy Handbook which is available from
Find out more about Debbie's services on  or phone 01977 678593

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