21 ways you can avoid festive stress – and enjoy a merry Christmas for once!

Already dreading the Christmas work and rows? Fear not! We have 21 suggestions to help you avoid festive stress – and enjoy a merry Christmas for once.

“This year for Christmas I’d like a breakdown,” said no one ever. And yet, between shopping for the perfect gifts, planning the supermarket shop, preparing (and clearing up after) endless meals, refereeing argumentative, sugar-fuelled kids, and enduring difficult relatives, the festive season can easily push you to the edge of your sanity.

Luckily we’re here to help. While we can’t guarantee a peaceful, drunk-relative-free Christmas, we can share 21 tips from Nerissa Buckell from Crimson Tiger to help you avoid some of the Christmas stress and, who knows, maybe even enjoy it this year?

21 ways you can avoid festive stress

So here they are, 21 ways you can (attempt to) avoid festive stress:

  1. Drink water to stay hydrated – remember it is better to drink it little and often than trying to down several glasses in one go.
  2. Don’t over drink at the Christmas works bash – you will only regret it, end up mortified at something you said, or did. Drink when you get home instead!
  3. Let go of perfection – there is no such thing as a perfect Christmas, so don’t strive for it.
  4. Have time alone – head for a bath, pop some music on to drown out the noises from the family and hide for a while. You need to recharge your batteries.
  5. Don’t stress about things you can’t control – if you get snowed in, adapt, change your plans. If someone is ill it’s not the end of the world that it is not the Christmas you expected.
  6. Learn to say no – no one can actually do everything, so if you are too busy don’t accept any other requests, a polite ‘no’ should never offend.
  7. Don’t try to visit absolutely everyone – you can see them before Christmas, or in January. You will only be too tired to enjoy their company if you do.
  8. Share the workload – bark orders at others to get them peeling veg, or help clear the table. It’s your Christmas also.
  9. Find excuses to avoid family – if you have stressful relatives visiting ignore the above. You might find it easier to do it all so you can hide in the kitchen and prepare all the vegetables and do the washing up, by hand, really slowly, it might save you from biting your tongue too hard!
  10. Don’t sweat kitchen errors – if you burn something on the main meal, does it really matter? I often serve pigs in shrouds!
  11. Get some fresh air – it is easy to be rushing and dashing here there and everywhere but not actually get outside and have some fresh air. Perhaps the best time is not after the big Christmas meal; it is not healthy to eat so much and then head out in the cold air soon afterwards. But perhaps in the morning, or at least on Boxing Day.
  12. Avoid playing monopoly – just don’t, you know you will only all end up squabbling!
  13. Keep to your sleep routines – try not to let your sleep patterns vary too dramatically, it will only make the return to work even harder. You are better off having a nap in the afternoon, just make sure you are up by 3pm otherwise you will not sleep that evening.
  14. Don’t mope around – if you are a split family and the children are heading off to your partners for Christmas this year, you will obviously miss them. But it does not mean you should sit around moping. Think about what you really would like to do. Even if it’s having a pyjama day watching all the films you never normally get to watch or go and volunteer at a local shelter.
  15. Pick your battles – if you have a grouchy guest, try to smile if they say something challenging. In you head you may well be thinking ‘ignorant numnuts’ or similar. But just like with toddlers, choose your battles wisely. As Eleanor Roosevelt said ‘No-one makes you feel inferior without your consent’ and anyway, a smile often confuses them.
  16. Prepare an escape plan – staying with others this Christmas? It’s harder to hide in the bath for peace and quiet so have an excuse ready or an escape plan. You need to get something from the shops or want to take the kids out for a spot of fresh air just so you can politely excuse yourself and have a breather.
  17. Don’t be a stickler for tradition – if you are staying with others, remember it may be a tradition for your family to go to the panto on Christmas Eve, or have crackers with every meal, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will follow the same ‘rules’. It doesn’t matter if you miss it one year or follow that tradition another day.
  18. Fill the car up before Christmas Eve – unfortunately, something might happen that may mean you need to get somewhere in a hurry. Having a tank full of fuel will make the situation a lot less stressful, as few petrol stations open on Christmas Day.
  19. Reward yourself – if you know you are heading to someone’s house where it will be stressful think of an award system for yourself. If I survive through day one, I will treat myself to a manicure. If I don’t bite at a remark about my appearance, work etc then I will give myself a trip to the cinema on my own. It might make things more bearable and will hopefully stop you brooding.
  20. Have spare gifts prepared – have a spare bland gift or two upstairs in your bedroom, ready in a gift bag with a blank tag on it. It could be a plant, or a bottle, or chocolate. If someone unexpected drops by with a gift you can say, ‘I’ll just pop upstairs to get yours’, and quickly fill out the tag, in biro obviously otherwise it could smudge!
  21. Remember, you have a whole year before you have to do this again! – Christmas only comes once a year, you can always escape in your head if it all becomes too much and start planning where you are going to run away to next Christmas. My head will be in Bora Bora if anyone wants to join me!

Nerissa Buckell owns and runs online gifts, homewares and accessories website Crimson Tiger – the perfect online Christmas shopping destination!

Photo by Kelly Sikkema