Call it old age but these days Christmas doesn’t stress me out. Sure, there’s heaps to do and the end of the year is a bit manic but today I’m going to outline why I don’t stress out anymore, why my plan works and hopefully give you some ideas of things you can do yourself.
People will judge you by how much money you spend
No they won’t – but you’d be forgiven for thinking they will. Shops are already decked out in Christmas finery and it’s much shinier and more elaborate that you can realistically achieve at home, which often lets feelings of inadequacy set it.
Shops are geared up at Christmas to hype people up – other shoppers are stressed out – and before you know it you’ve bought into the idea that you need to overspend to have a good time.
Make a list. Stick to it. Set a budget. Stick to it.
Whatever you do – never put your purchases on a card that you can pay off until June. Because who wants to be paying for things they’ve forgotten about in June?
I recently told you to make a list for Christmas of all the presents you’ll give and all the cards you’ll write. Have you done it yet? It’s one of the most important keys to a stress free Christmas because it means you can be purposeful in your giving.
Once I have written things down I can target my thinking to focus just on what kind of gift I’m giving each person and have a plan before I hit the shops. By having a list developed you’ll not have to make decisions while shopping, you’ll get what you need and won’t be tempted to over spend or “just buy a few extras just in case.”
This weekend I’m going to write my list of Christmas card recipients – I’ll cover Christmas cards in a separate blog post.
Plan for surprises that could stress you out. For me, that’s birthdays – I have mentally charted out upcoming birthdays and have bought gifts that I have at home ready to give. That means I don’t need to make a last-minute dash to the shop, can save money by not panic buying and won’t miss my friend’s special days.
Make a list for everything. I usually have a list of decorations, things I want to make, the menu for Christmas day… everything. It may seem over the top but it helps to keep things sensible.
And remember – the world won’t end if you don’t finish the list.
Think of others
Just like every other day of the year there are others less fortunate than you. Support local charities and foodbanks where you can – or give charity gifts for Christmas instead of traditional gifts.
I started shopping online a few years ago after a particularly bad end of year. I was feeling fragile and didn’t want to make chit-chat about how I was feeling, and found the crowds in shops overwhelming and stressful.
Now I almost always do the Christmas shopping online at small New Zealand businesses or at local Featherston shops. Shopping online you can consider colours and styles of products without the pressure to buy, you can make the most of discount codes and often get free gift wrapping. And what you spend on shipping you would have spent on parking and lunch anyway.
www.felt.co.nz is full of great handmade products and they always do a good gift guide.
www.ecostore.co.nz I love these products and it’s nice to get something useful.
Don’t be afraid if you’re spending a lot of money ($100+) with one store to email and ask for a free shipping deal.
Start now on your preparations and things won’t get stressful.
One of the easiest ways I’ve found to decorate our tree is to make a theme. For example, one year the theme was birds so I cut out a whole lot of bird shapes from white card and tied them to the tree with white ribbon. The total cost was about $5.
This year I’m thinking ribbon could be good – lots of bows of ribbon tied onto branches.
Decorating your home
You really don’t need to go mad at Christmas – I usually go for a real tree if I’m at home, a wreath for the door and maybe a special garland. I’ll cover ideas for wreaths and garlands in a later post. Another good idea is to put things in priority order – it’s important to me to have a real tree but if we were pinching pennies I’d be happy with a few pine branches in a big vase.
You don’t have to have the turkey AND the ham AND the pavlova AND the trifle and everything else. Make a simple but delicious menu – you’ll enjoy cooking more and people will love it. I’ll share three Christmas menus in upcoming blog posts that have worked well for me.
Make a memory
I’ve had 36 Christmases in my life and can really only remember three presents (and not the most expensive ones). What I do remember is the good times I had with family, lazing about in the sun, running around with cousins. I don’t remember that I failed to cook something or didn’t make everything that I’d planned to or didn’t give big presents that one year…
And others won’t either. Make a good time, which you can do by being stress free and having fun.
All the images in this post are from Digital NZ – click on them to go to the source.