Planning for Christmas

Plan for Christmas and Reduce Stress

Do the pressures of Christmas and a busy December calendar ever leave you frazzled and overwhelmed? Plan for Christmas by taking a moment to pause and reflect on what the festive season means to you. Promise that your not out going to organise a Christmas that will make you stressed and cranky.

Presents, decorations and food are delightful, but they are not what makes Christmas special. It’s about spending quality time with those we love. With a little planning and some insight about what makes Christmas meaningful you can create a Christmas celebration without the stress.

Create a Christmas Bucket List

Do this exercise on your own, but for most benefit involve the whole in family in the plan for Christmas. Imagine it’s early January. Take out a piece of paper and write out all the elements that will make Christmas special for your family. This will become your Christmas Bucket List.

  • Which people have you seen?
  • What customs did your family honour?
  • Did you bring out decorations?
  • How did you share love and gratitude with family and friends? Were gifts involved? Did you send cards?
  • Have you contributed to others? Were you generous to those less fortunate?
  • What events have you attended? You might like to include religious events, work functions, carols, volunteering, end of year parties and graduations.
  • Have you been on a holiday?
  • What festive feasts and treats have you eaten?

How does the bucket list seem to you? Is it manageable? Hopefully it’s got you feeling excited. If so, that’s great – Let’s dive in make it happen. However, if just looking at the list has got you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed then now is the time to scale back and select only the most meaningful items from your bucket list.

Use your calendar

You might like to refer to your Christmas Bucket List here. Let’s make sure all the events, functions and celebrations we are attending are entered into our calendars. Plan for Christmas by identify any days where you might have accidentally double booked, over committed or might need to consider childcare arrangements for the kids. If adjustments are needed, cancel and reschedule events early to minimise the inconvenience. Remember some catches up might be best deferred until later in the Summer School Holidays rather than rushing thorough them before Christmas.

Find Pockets of Time

Plan for Christmas in those odd pockets of time where you are waiting. These waiting times happen at appointments, when the kids are doing after school activities and parked out the front of school waiting on the end of day bell. These are moments where you can reflect on what needs to be organised, make phone calls, place online orders, write notes (or Christmas cards) and make plans for all those things that are part of your Christmas Bucket List? See if you can find 10 or 20 minutes in your daily schedule to think, take notes and make a small amount of progress everyday.  You might also be able to find time before the TV goes on or by reducing the amount of time scrolling social media. Working Mums might be able to use their lunch break to run an errand or two.

Create a Wish List

Get every family member to write a wish list. There are some great Letter to Santa templates that you can find for free on the internet. I like the style that starts with a few prompts for example, Something:

  • I need
  • To wear
  • I’ll read
  • To do

Please help your family out here and be sure to create your own wish list too.

What Size are We?

For all your immediate family members take note of their clothing sizes and write them down on a handy notecard to keep in your bag. I like to know my families sizing for shirts, pants and shoes but it can also be handy to take measurements because sizes can vary greatly between stores and actual measurements can be very helpful if you like to shop online. When my kids were young I carried a traced outline of feet or shoes to help get shopping right – very handy if you hate the length of queues at store return counters on Boxing Day.

Create a Budget to avoid Christmas Debt Hangover

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of Christmas. If we haven’t set a budget and don’t understand where we are spending this December then we’ll begin 2022 dealing with a Christmas Debt Hangover. If you want to plan for Christmas and avoid this headache, now is the time to think about budgeting for food, gifts, and any other events on your calendar. Budgets don’t have to be elaborate, but take a moment to list out how much you are prepared to spend on each person, on food, on decorations, on meals out, and on any other activities on your Christmas Bucket List. Set an upper spending limit and promise that you’ll stick to it.

Delegating and Helping

Don’t be shy about asking for additional support at this time of year. If the whole family has been involved in preparing an exciting Christmas Bucket List then hopefully you’ll easily be able to motivate them to stay on Santa’s ‘Nice’ list. Delegate a few extra chores all throughout December and make sure that everyone offers a helping hand.

Who else is part of your support crew? Can your partner help? Parents, friends and neighbours might also be included in your support team. Perhaps you can arrange child minding so that between yourself and a friend over a couple playdates you can swap roles – one to mind, one to run errands like shopping or wrapping presents. Here’s another suggestion – Do you know any high school students looking for spending money over the Christmas Holidays? One year I paid to have a student wrap all my Christmas presents, it was amazing! If you ask for recommendations you might be lucky enough to find a high school student who has finished with exams and is keen to earn some extra spending money.

If you are hosting or planning an events ask guests to bring or do something that will help reduce your workload. Perhaps guests can bring a plate of food, some beverages, prepare a music playlist, organise the decorations, arrange a game or co-ordinate Kris Kringle gifting.

For events you are attending be sure to ask the host or organiser how you can help them. Be ready to make a suggestion or two of your own about how you are willing to help out. It’s sometimes hard as the host to be put on the spot to make a suggestion. By being forthcoming with an offer you’re more likely to be assigned a task you actually enjoy and it won’t feel too overwhelming.

Good – Better – Best

Do you have a tendency to go overboard at Christmas time? One of the ways I have begun to avoid this is to think about minimum standards. I love Christmas and want it to be special and meaningful so my inclination is to dream extravagantly. However, my initially elaborate and grandiose plans often place significant strain on my time and sanity.  If this is you, I encourage you to refer back to your Christmas Bucket List. What would be the minimum standard to do a ‘Good’ job?

With a good – better – best mindset you give yourself permission to do just enough. Then if you have remaining time and energy you think about doing it a little ‘Better’ or even your ‘Best’. Once you’ve experimented keeping things small and manageable you might find that nobody really misses the fanfare of your “best”. Instead they’ll appreciate you being more relaxed and available to have fun with. Where can you lower the expectations you place on yourself?

Do Christmas Your Way

I hope these tips help you create a plan for Christmas that is just right for you and your family. Christmas doesn’t need to be stressful. We can spend time with our loved ones and create special memories without exhausting ourselves.  Give yourself permission to celebrate Christmas anyway you please.

If your Christmas preparations have got you feeling stuck then please reach out for support.

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