Picture by Jessica Lewis via Pexels
Every year I hear many people complain about how stressed out they feel before Christmas. Even though most people enjoy the holiday itself, many of us seem to stress around to get everything prepared in time. So, today I want to talk to you about how you can make your December stress free.
1. PLAN AHEAD OF TIME
I know we’re only in November, but time flies, and December is just around the corner. I know there are always lots of things we want to do, and feel like we have to do before Christmas arrives, and I think the best way we can tackle this is by planning.
That’s all well and good, but what should you plan?
I suggest sitting down with a nice hot beverage, and make a list. What is it that you need to get done? I have some suggestions for common things, so let’s look at the categories together:
Picture by Dana Tentis via Pexels
Cleaning your house or apartment
If you live in an apartment you’re kind of lucky – there are fewer spaces for you to clean. But if you have a house, there is more to do. I know my ex mother in law would clean the walls and ceilings for Christmas, but unless you feel it is really necessary to do this, I suggest you skip it!
However, there are a few cleaning tasks you probably want to do: cleaning the windows, vacuuming and washing the floors, washing the bathroom and dusting.
You might feel stressed out about all the cleaning you need to do before Christmas, but realize this: you most likely have a regular schedule for most of these tasks. The only extra activity is cleaning the windows, which you probably do a little less often. And maybe washing the floors, which you might do less frequently than vacuuming.
To make it easy for you to plan your cleaning, get my FREE downloadable list!
Picture by Cottonbro via Pexels
So, sit down and check your calendar: When is Christmas this year? I mean: What day does it fall on? If you have a regular cleaning schedule where you vacuum, do the dusting and wash your bathroom on a Friday and Christmas falls on a Thursday, you simply follow your normal routine up until the week of Christmas. So you’ll do your regular cleaning the Friday before, then again on Wednesday, right before Christmas.
Then you wash your floors on that same Wednesday. As for the windows, I suggest washing them one or two weeks before Christmas.
Plan your baking & cooking
Picture by Kaboompics via Pexels
The next point of planning I want to talk about is baking and cooking. Do you have a habit of making cookies for Christmas? Or do you have any special meals you like to cook? Well, plan it ahead of time.
I've made it easy for you by creating this FREE downloadable and printable Christmas baking plan.
In Norway we have a tradition that says you should bake 7 different sorts of Christmas cookies. And that’s a lot of baking if you’re going to follow tradition. With our modern lives it may be hard to fit this in between everything else that’s going on.
So, before December knocks on our door, I like to plan when I’m going to bake my cookies. Sometimes I like to make several types of cookies in one day, to reduce the number of baking days. But then I always make sure that if one cookie is particularly laborious to make, the other ones are easy to make.
On Christmas we also like to serve traditional food for our lunch and dinners. These meals often take a lot of time to prepare, and there may be several operations happening in the kitchen at the same time. To reduce the amount of stress, I like to see if there is anything I can make ahead of time and just reheat it when the day arrives.
With a lot of dishes, they even taste better when they’re reheated!
Picture by Daria Shevstova via Pexels
One thing that comes to mind is gravy, but many desserts can also be made ahead of time and frozen.
Plan your Gifts
Picture by Olya Kobruseva via Pexels
We all love gifts, don’t we? But at Christmas, you often have so many people you need to think of that it becomes stressful to find a gift for everyone. So, start now, and make a list of everyone you plan to give a gift. This takes away the stress of being afraid you’ve forgotten someone. You're more than welcome to use my FREE downloadable list if you want to.
When you’ve made your list, start looking for gifts. Some people are easy to give gifts to, but if you’re uncertain of what to give, ask people what they want (or need)! And, for people who have everything they need and then some, you can give edible gifts. Some chocolate or a bottle of wine (if they drink alcohol) is always appreciated, as it is a gift they can use.
I know this next idea is a little late to do it this year, but I know people who start buying gifts in January! Talk about being ahead of the game! But I guess it’s because a lot of things are on sale in January, so you could save a lot of money if you buy most of your Christmas presents then. However, I would only do this if I absolutely KNOW that this is a gift that the person will like a year from now.
Picture by fotografierende via Pexels
If you want ALL my FREE downloadable Christmas planners, you can get them in one bundle here.
2. REDUCE WHAT YOU'RE COMMITTING TO DO
As always with intentional living, I should mention that to make your December stress free, you might want to reduce the amount of things you’re doing.
Don’t overdo the cleaning
For some reason we have this feeling that we have to clean in excessive amounts before Christmas, even though most of us have regular cleaning schedules we follow throughout the year that are more than enough to keep our homes clean and tidy. But for some odd reason a lot of us feel a need to clean in bizarre places before Christmas, like the bottom of the drawers in our dressers... I mean ... come on! It doesn’t hurt if people understand that we actually sit, breathe and live in our houses! There’s no need to exaggerate!
So: If you feel stressed out about cleaning, reduce what you clean. As I mentioned, I don’t see the point in washing my walls and ceiling, so I don’t do that. And no one dies if there’s a little dust in a corner. Really, I promise it will be fine!
Keeping to your normal cleaning routine can help make your December stress free.
Picture by Cottonbro via Pexels
Keep the baking to what you will actually eat
Another thing you can reduce is the amount of cooking and baking you’re doing.
Is there a cookie you make every Christmas that no one really eats? Or is it simply too many cookies to manage eating them all before they go stale?
Well, reduce the amount!
As I mentioned, there is a tradition of baking 7 different types of cookies for Christmas in Norway. But for the most of us, it’ll be too many to consume (and to have time to bake them all).
I know that even though I like baking, some years it’s only achievable to bake maybe 2 or 3 types of Christmas cookies. And that’s fine! Christmas will come anyways. And when I understand that I will only have time to bake a certain amount, I prioritize what I bake. So I only bake our favorites.
If you absolutely want a certain kind of cookie but don’t have the time to bake, there are a few options:
One option is to buy the cookies you want. Most stores sell the classics, so you can get your hands on them without baking.
Another alternative is to arrange a cookie-swap with friends and family. If you only have time to bake 1 type of cookie but have 4 friends or family members who are also baking, you can arrange for everyone to bake something different and swap. So, you’ll have 5 types of cookies from the effort of making 1!
Another tip (as mentioned above) is to reduce the recipe, so you have a more manageable amount to eat.
Gifts and advent calendars
Picture by Torsten Dettlaff via Pexels
As much as we all love gifts, we also appreciate good food and good company. And we could all do well to focus more on that.
Not only do most people have what they need, it’s also better for the environment to reduce the amount of stuff we give each other.
So rather than stressing about finding physical gifts for people, gift them time. This time could be something you do for them (like cleaning, baking or helping them with something) or an activity they can do (or that you can do together).
I also know that a lot of parents (myself included) love making advent calendars for their children. However, a lot of the time these calendars are filled with trinkets that are fun right there and then but are soon forgotten about or broken. It can also be a bit stressful to go around finding 24 (or 25) little gifts and wrap them all.
I prefer filling the advent calendar with a combination of things they need (like socks, notebooks etc), some candy (but not every day!), and then things like face masks, nail polish and other beauty products (for my girl), Christmas decorations for their room, snack bars, small candles, etc.
You're welcome to use this downloadable FREE Advent Calendar Gift Plan if you want to!
Alternative advent calendars:
-A Christmas book: find a book with 24 (or 25) chapters, so that they can read a chapter a day (or you can read to them before bed). This shifts the focus towards spending more time together.
-Reversed advent calendar: with this one, your child gets a packet of 24 (or 25) bows or ribbons at the first day of December. The bows will be used to mark a toy or a piece of clothing they no longer use, and can part with. Mark one item every day. Collect the toys and clothes and donate them so they can go to someone in need.
For younger children you can tell them that the toys are taken to the North pole so Santa can “fix them up” and give them to other children. In return, Santa will bring some new toys for them for Christmas (make sure to not promise that Santa will replace everything they give away, though!)
For older children it’s nice to explain that not everyone is as fortunate as they are. It’s nice for them to learn about the joy of giving, and most children who are old enough to understand will be happy to be able to help someone else.
Picture by Skitterphoto via Pexels
-Activity calendar: instead of getting things in their calendar every day, you can give them an activity each day. This may sound like a lot of effort, but this can be activities you’ve already planned for, and activities that don’t take too long to do. For example: you can wrap a cookie cutter for the day when you’ve planned baking cookies. Another gift can be hot chocolate after dinner, a round of cards or staying up 15 minutes longer to read an extra story at bedtime. Your imagination is the limit!
3. MAKE YOUR OWN TRADITIONS
I find that stress is often caused by things we’ve committed to do, but don’t really want to do. In order to make December stress free, I want to suggest to you that you make your own traditions.
You might think this is counterproductive, adding more things to what you do, but hear me out.
What I mean, is that sometimes we follow traditions simply because they’re traditions and because that’s how we’ve always done things.
I’m here to tell you that if there are traditions that you have, that you are committed to only because they’re traditions, it’s okay to cut them out.
For example: If you don’t enjoy participating in the "Secret Santa" tradition at work because you find it stressful to try and find a gift for a colleague that you might not even know very well, it’s okay to opt out of it.
You can make your own traditions
Instead of following old traditions that don’t suit your lifestyle and don’t mean much to you, create your own. Maybe instead of exchanging gifts with your friends you want to arrange an informal lunch at your house? (You could even order the food!)
Or maybe there are things that you want to add to your routine to slow down? Some activities can release stress even if they’re an addition to what you usually do. Spending time with your loved ones is one of such activities.
Or maybe there is something you’ve always wanted to do before Christmas that you never got around to? Maybe there's a certain Christmas movie you want to watch, or maybe you want to go to the ballet to see the Nutcracker performed.
Or maybe you just want to do something simple to add more “hygge”, like lighting a candle every night while you drink a cup of tea, or get up 15 minutes earlier each morning to take a little extra time with your breakfast.
These are all things you can do to make December stress free for yourself.
Picture by Olya Danilevich via Pexels
I hope this article has inspired you to really think about what you spend your time and money on this December, and hope the things I’ve covered are things that are really meaningful to YOU. If not, it’s okay to cut something out and add something else in order to make YOUR December stress free.
And remember: My FREE downloadable and printable Christmas planners can make it even easier for you, so I suggest you get them right now!