Things can get very stressful during the holidays, especially at Christmas. Emotions run high and tempers are flying. It can sometimes feel like things are spiraling out of control. Why do things go south during this time of the year?
There are several reasons why things can get crazy during the holidays. There are lots of pressures and demands during the holidays including financial pressures, family commitments and sometimes work before the Christmas break. But what happens most is people try to do too much and create their own confusion and chaos by setting themselves unrealistic tasks and goals – when really, what people need to do is to simplify things and focus on what really matters this Christmas.
When you really stop and think about it, the true purpose of everything that you do during Christmas (or any holiday) is to have fun with family and friends. Don’t be too much of a perfectionist, loosen your expectations and focus on creating a happy day. Avoid being so exhausted that you cannot even participate in the parties that you want to attend this holiday season.
What Can You Do 7 Days Before Christmas?
Let’s assume that you have made a list of the things that you need to do in the lead up to Christmas. It sounds simple, but let’s say that you’re down to the last 7 days before Christmas, what should you do?
1st Day – Check Your Budget
Reviewing your budget will help you avoid the last minute Christmas frenzy. You set your budget when you were sane and calm 😉 so don’t get caught up in the hype in the last few days.
If you haven’t set a budget yet, then why not do it now. It’s not too late to spend some time allocating funds to help you avoid any pressures leading to the big day. Without a budget, everything will fall through. Budgeting is an important step to a less stressful Christmas. You don’t want to run out of money before you’re finished buying gifts.
The best thing to do is to separate your Christmas budget from the utility budget. Make sure that you don’t go over budget and spread the money out for your Christmas expenses.
After setting your Christmas budget, make a gift list and decide how much you will spend for each person. It will also help if you list different stores at the bottom of your list so you know where to go.
2nd Day – Your December Events Calendar
Even one week before Christmas, it’s still not too late to organize your December calendar. This calendar will be filled with all the parties, activities, appointments and gift exchanges that you have. Schedule the day you will send Christmas cards, gifts, the hours you need to pick up your kids from school/activities. Doing this will let you know what activity will need preparation.
Keep the calendar simple and remember, you can say no to an activity if you don’t feel like it and just spend some more quality time with your family.
3rd Day – Sending out e-Christmas Cards to Friends and Relatives
Buying and sending out cards is expensive and time-consuming, so why not just make your own and email them. Take your family picture anywhere that looks beautiful and Christmassy. Relax and have fun taking pictures. Be creative, there are websites giving free card templates for you to use and then print or email them to loved ones and family.
4th Day – Review Your Food Preparation Plan
If you’re an avid list maker then your Christmas food prep will already be planned. Review this list and start categorizing it into days ahead for buying or harvesting (if you have your own garden).
However, if you haven’t started a food plan then let’s start now. This will include your regular meal, party foods, a holiday meal and any other cooking and baking that you need to do.
Start by making a list of items that you need for cooking and baking. Keep this separate from your weekly groceries so as to not mix things up. Also, the list may help you prioritize your shopping and will let you stay within your budget. It can also help you find sales or good coupon deals.
Always check your calendar and if you can, plan your daily meals because you may have an activity planned out that day that it may require you to prepare an early meal before leaving your house. Food planning will save you time and money and will give you a stress-free holiday.
5th Day – Going Out and Shopping
You already have your shopping list prepared, it’s time to go out and buy stuff. To avoid crowds try to shop during off hours like early mornings and late nights. Avoid weekend shopping because stores will be super busy. For other items on your list, try buying them online if possible. If you see a great deal, take it, but again, spend within your budget.
6th Day – Time for Decorations
It’s time for decluttering and putting out the final decorations. Clean and tidy the house, and put your favorite Christmas decorations on display. Breaking your tasks up will make cleaning and tidying less overwhelming.
For your decorations, get your family involved in helping with the maintenance of the areas that have already been done. Decorating should not break your budget and one of the best ways to save money on decorations is to use what you have and go with the Christmas theme colors of green and red. You can add silver or gold accents to make things sparkle.
Let the kids help in decorating your house because they have decorative minds and you don’t know what they can add to spice things up. It’s also a good way to spend quality time with them and savour the season and the happy atmosphere.
7th Day – Goals
By now, you probably already have an idea of your goals for you and your family for Christmas day. Take some time to think about it and what you can do to make them happen. Write them down to remind you of them when things get a bit chaotic. It’s also ok to say no if the activities or events do not fit your goal or if they are short notice. If you want to spend more time with your family, then you can say no and politely decline an invitation. You don’t have to feel guilty about it. Some Christmas day goals might include:
- celebrating the magic of Christmas with an early morning Santa visit
- ensuring you have a warm and welcoming atmosphere when the family joins together
- promising yourself not to argue with <insert name here!> and keep the peace for one day
- following a family tradition
- taking time to enjoy the day and reflecting on what makes Christmas special to you all.
Do what makes you feel good, do what makes your family happy and content, execute your plans and reach your goals. And don’t forget Christmas Eve celebrations! Have a movie date or dinner date with your significant other, go ice skating with the kids and have some hot cocoa and cookies. Play some music and relax because you deserve it a day before Christmas.