I love Christmas but it can equal a lot of stress for me. My husband and I both have lots of family that all live in the area so we are blessed that we get to see EVERYONE at Christmas time. We love it, but a lot of family means a lot of present buying, wrapping, sorting to go to the right place, giving each family member a list for the kids, and a marathon Christmas of going house to house and eating fabulous feast after fabulous feast.
I struggle with depression, especially in the winter, and with some health issues that make holidays even more complicated with my careful diet and low immune system. When I was really sick the last two Christmases with mono I had to learn how to balance Christmas in a way that we still had fun, I was worried about my children missing out because of me, but kept me healthy and un-stressed. This year is going great and here are some of the things we have done to balance Christmas and make it easier for mom. These ideas will help anyone make Christmas less stressful.
Presents- Start Early
I start buying Christmas gifts months ahead of time. We have over 20 people to buy for. Normally as soon as a person’s birthday is past I start thinking about their Christmas present. I have a shelf I put all Christmas presents on and I just put it there until it is time to wrap in December. I have found that it is much easier to find the perfect gift if your willing to buy when you find it. It’s also easier on the budget. We can put one gift on each paycheck instead of going into debt at Christmas time.
When November rolls around I make a list of everyone we don’t have a present for. In the past few years we have started wanting to get better presents for each person than we did in the past. Instead of just any gift, we want the perfect gift; a useful gift. We then start buying several each pay check until we are done.
For our kids we buy one big present that is for all 3. Then we buy lots of smaller things. We often buy used at garage sales or thrift stores. When they were much younger we would do a toy swap with friends that also didn’t have a lot of money. That way the kids all got new to them items. My kids still don’t mind second hand toys or clothes for Christmas.
I try to start wrapping in early December. As I write this, only days away from December I feel a little stressed. SO MANY PRESENTS!!! But I know that putting it off wont help. I’m going to wrap presents the same way I sort laundry; in my room, binge watching my favorite TV series, with a favorite drink. This way I will actually look forward to it. My special alone time wrapping presents; I feel like an elf.
Kids Gifts Lists
My husband and I had kids young. I had my last kid when I was 20. So they have a lot of grandparents and great grandparents still alive. This means that a whole lot of people want me to send them a Christmas list for each kid. I feel like Christmas gifts should be a blessing and a good fit for each person. Not just anything you see that maybe they will like.
I feel blessed each Christmas that my kids get so many things that help us throughout the year. They get new clothes that they actually want, the art cabinet gets restocked with cool new things, they get new books and games. They also get bedding items and things they want for their rooms. We can’t afford to buy these things all the time but we are very blessed that the kids can ask for exactly what they wish for and get it at Christmas.
I also know the people who buy the presents appreciate me making it easy on them. So as the kids mention things throughout the year I put it in a note on my phone. i also look up the item and find one with good reviews on amazon and add it to my cart for later. That ay when Christmas rolls around and a grandparent asks for a lists I can just copy and paste the links! This make sit much easier. Our hardest part is finding enough things for all the grandparents. I thought I had already given my grandmother a list and on thanksgiving she told me I hadn’t! I had to think up new ideas fast!
We have done two things to make Christmas decorating easier. We downsized and I turned the job of decorating over to the kids.
We got rid of our big, broken, half lit Christmas tree last year after Christmas. It had seen better days and I had held onto it for more years than I wanted just because I didn’t want to spend the money on a new tree. So I sold it for a dollar to someone who then donated it to their church who needed one. Then my husband and I went out on December 27th and bought a 4.5 foot tree that was pre-lit, looked like snow was on it and was on clearance.
We also donated over half of our Christmas decorations last year before putting everything away. We kept only what we really loved or was a family keepsake.
Kids Can Help
The kids are 10, 11, and 12 now. For the past few years I was sick so they had to do the decorating or it wasn’t going to happen. They get into the attic, get everything down. Put up the tree, decorate it, decorate outside, put the empty boxes back into the attic and at the season put everything away again.
The kids also wrap presents for each other and shop for each other.
I have had to let go of perfection or even expectations in this process. This is their Christmas, their memories. If the tree looks less than perfect to me who cares? It’s how they want it. And they do get better every year. This is something that is very hard for some people to do, luckily I never was much of a perfectionist. I also don’t normally buy any decorations that are breakable or that I car about all that much if they do get broken. I’m just not much into things. I much prefer the feeling of happiness I have knowing my kids contributed and worked hard to do something for our family. I know it gives them a sense of pride and it gives me a break!
There are so many fun things to do at Christmas time but never enough time to do them all. I often feel like a failure after each Christmas season when I think about what fun things we didn’t get to that year.
This year I decided i wanted to feel accomplished instead. I just made a piece of paper titled Christmas activities, wrote down our favorites and we will cross them off as we go. There is room to add more if we want to. It’s easy. I love lists because of how I love crossing them off and seeing how much I accomplished so this fits the way my mind works beautifully! Here are some of the things we put on the list:
- Pictures with Santa (already done! And they were free!)
- Decorate the house and tree
- Give to others
- Christmas carols
- Christmas cards
- Watch a Christmas movie
- Make a nativity scene ( we are going to look up crafty ones on YouTube)
- Drive around and look at lights
- Act out the nativity scene and record it
- Read Christmas Stories
- Make cookies for Santa and write a letter
- Buy and wrap gifts for each other
How do you keep Christmas stress away from the holidays? Comment below!