Want to enjoy Christmas with less stress and more joy? They don’t call it the silly season for nothing. It’s the season of crowds, chaos and general Christmas craziness. Here are some tips on how to get organised for Christmas without losing your mind.
Lower your expectations
Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect. Forget about the scenes that you see in magazines, websites and social media (Looking at you Instagram!) Decide what you want your family Christmas to be and take it from there. Don’t kill yourself to create a perfect Christmas. It’s not worth the effort or the guilt if it doesn’t match expectations. Don’t worry about making Christmas perfect for your kids, just make it fun.
Put every event in your calendar
Whether you use a paper calendar, your phone or an online calendar, mark everything down. It’s a busy time of year with school and activities winding down and the holiday season gearing up with Christmas carols and Christmas parties. This means lots of events so mark them down so you know what you’re doing and where you’re going. Also prevents the double-book.
Have a weekly planner for Christmas
Okay, yes it’s a bit Type A to have weekly tasks for Christmas but if the alternative is freaking out because I forgot to get Santa photos done early or didn’t mail out overseas Christmas presents before the deadline, I’ll gladly do a list.
Check the calendar and assign a week for all the different tasks of Christmas. e.g. Writing Christmas cards, putting up the tree, doing the menu for Christmas Day, Christmas baking, Christmas craft, Santa photos, wrapping presents, etc.
Organise your home
If you’re hosting Christmas or having guests stay with you, start getting your house organised. Start the decluttering in the guest room and do a big house clean early. If you don’t have time to clean your house, organise a cleaner for a one-off clean. Then figure out if you need new linen and pillows to spruce up the guest room.
Organise the Christmas meal
If you’re cooking at home, start planning what you’re going to eat and start collecting ingredients. Online shopping is a bonus at this time of year when the grocery stores get insane. You can also order your Christmas seafood at the Commercial Fishermen’s Co-op in Wickham.
And if you’ve decided to make a few new dishes for your Christmas meal, practice them first before the day to reduce the stress of getting it right. You really don’t need the pressure of mastering a new dish especially on a day when the grocery shops are closed.
Make a list and start shopping for gifts
One way to reduce the stress of Christmas is buying less gifts (that includes your own kids as well). Make a list of the essentials of who you to have to shop for. Some extended families do Secret Santa where they draw a family member’s name and buy them a gift. I love this idea as it cuts down on the number of presents you have to buy. So much easier than trying to figure out what to get Aunty Ann for Christmas.
Also, rethink buying presents for friends. Instead splurge and organise catch ups at a spa or a fancy restaurant. That can be your gift to each other plus you get to spend time together. Win-win.
Shopping when convenient
Now that you have your list, plan your shopping dates. Take advantage of extended trading hours and shopping online.
I’ve been advised that there are some quieter days in December. Local shopping centres reports that they’ve noticed that the week before Christmas can be a bit slower. They highlight 17 December and 18 December as being great days to shop as shops are open until 7pm. There’s still choice in the stores but not the crowds. If you don’t mind the crowds, visit shopping centres when they have their super-extended hours. If you’re a night owl, you can usually shop until midnight on the Thursday before Christmas.
Wrap presents early
There’s nothing worse on Christmas Eve than a night of wrapping gifts. Start early or take them to shopping centres to get them wrapped. There are usually charities who will do gift wrapping in exchange for a donation.
And once they are wrapped, hide them so that little prying eyes can’t find them. Just make sure you remember where you hid them. One year, I thought I would be smart and get a start on Christmas shopping. Purchased, wrapped and then hid the presents and then forgot where I had put them. After days of tearing the house apart, finally found them. Not recommended. Now I put a note in my phone telling me where I put them.
Keep track of your spending
At this time of year, it’s easy to overspend. Work out what is your Christmas budget and stick to it. Keep track of your spending on an app or a spreadsheet. This prevents bill shock in January when the credit card statements arrive.
Yes, it’s a season of joy and good tidings and all of that crap. But it’s also a really busy season and when you’re asked to attend one more event or to do one more thing that you really don’t want to do or don’t have time for, just say no. And that’s goes for your mum as well. Just say no to her unreasonable demands. (Hope my mum doesn’t read this)
Have “Me Time”
It’s a hectic time of year so give yourself some “me time. Whether it’s having some downtime with friends, an exercise session, a pampering session or just sitting in the corner guzzling some wine, set aside time for you. To use a sporting analogy, Christmas is a marathon, not a sprint. So don’t burn out early ’cause it’s a long holiday season.
Enjoy some family time too
Once you have your “Me Time”, you might feel like spending time with your family. Organise a Christmas movie family night (here’s a list), make some Christmas crafts or homemade presents. (By the way, grandparents love homemade presents – the more misshapen the better. So give them the Christmas baking that turned out a bit wonky or got a bit burnt) or enjoy some local Christmas events. Also, get your kids to help with Christmas activities to share the load, I mean share the fun. There are loads of things they can get involved with such as writing cards if they can write (scribbles totally count), decorating the tree and organising carrots for Rudolph and his friends on Christmas Eve.
Hopefully, these tips will help to reduce your stress in the lead up to Christmas giving you time to concentrate on what’s really important: Family, friends and food!
Make sure that you don’t miss any of the other fun and family-friendly Christmas events in Newcastle and the Hunter, visit the Newy with Kids Guide to Christmas.
Started in late 2012 by a local mum, Newy with Kids has grown into a thriving go-to family guide for the Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter region. Parents visit the Newy with Kids website to find things to do with babies, kids and teens. Whether it’s local attractions, upcoming events, kids eat free, school holiday activities or birthday party ideas, Newy with Kids is the best website for local parents to find local kid-friendly activities and information 24/7.