Keeping Christmas Merry: Tips for Stress-Free Holiday Preparation

The holidays are always busy and often overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be that way. These suggestions will help you reduce stress and enjoy Christmas.

The holidays are challenging with work and family. Be kind to yourself and enjoy making memories.

Cooking

  • Keep it simple. Who doesn’t like turkey or ham? Now is not the time to try exotic dishes.
  • If someone offers to bring something to your holiday gathering, say, “Okay.”
  • Items like sweet potatoes, stuffing, breads, pies, desserts, and some salads can be made a day or two before.

Baking

  • When baking cookies, measure all baking ingredients except for eggs, oleo, and liquids, into re-sealable bags. Label each and set them aside for spare time when you can mix up a quick batch. Measure out several batches at one time, that way ingredients can be dragged out once instead of every time you want to bake.
  • Holiday cookie platters, tins, wrap, and trim often go on sale for half-price, or even 75 percent off, right after Christmas. When they do, stock up for next year.
  • Cut sugar cookies are a lot of work, but they freeze well and can be made ahead of time, then taken out as needed.
  • If making cut sugar cookies, consider rolling and cutting them out one night, baking another night, and decorating as you have time. They can be refrigerated after being cut, with waxed paper placed between layers, then baked as time permits.
  • Keep batches of cookies separated when freezing. If sugar cookies are kept in the same container as anise drops, everything tastes like anise.

Shopping

  • Take a list along when shopping for gifts or baking supplies so that you don’t forget anything. It also helps avoid impulse buys.
  • Many stores match advertised prices so take sales flyers along. Also, some stores have a policy that they will refund the difference if an item goes on sale within the next week or 10 days. It pays to check!
  • File all sales slips for gifts in one place for easy retrieval in the event something does need returned or goes on sale.

Decorating

  • When storing holiday decorations, group items according to how they will be used and label each box so that, when it is time to decorate the house, you aren’t pulling out the gift wrap when you think you have the Christmas tree lights.
  • Holiday-themed nesting boxes make perfect storage units for ornaments and other Christmas decorations. They also look much nicer than cardboard boxes or plastic totes if left sitting out while in the process of holiday decorating.

Family Traditions

  • Some of our holiday rituals extend well into adulthood and traditions are an important part of what makes us who we are. Honor old traditions and make new ones.
  • Don’t let things like baking cookies and decorating the tree become a chore. Order pizza and have a great time.
  • Have a family ornament exchange where everyone brings an ornament, whether handmade or bought, and exchange them by drawing names or numbers.
  • Schedule some get-togethers the weekend before Christmas. Then all visiting doesn’t have to be crammed into one day and it’s much more enjoyable that way!
  • Every year, make a new handmade ornament for the tree and set one back for each child giving them a good start for their own tree.
  • Take turns hosting family gatherings. That way, everyone gets a chance to spotlight their home in all of its holiday grandeur and nobody gets constantly stuck with the mess.
  • Let everyone take turns opening gifts so that they can properly acknowledge and thank the person who gave them. That way, the room doesn’t turn into a pile of ownerless gifts and wrap without any idea from whom they came.

The Joy of Giving

  • When exchanging names, agree to give something handmade. It is truly a gift from the heart.
  • Support a charity. Often, gift trees for underprivileged children or nursing home residents provide a wonderful opportunity for remembering others.
  • Cookies and other baked goods are appreciated by family, friends, and neighbors. Substitute fruit baskets if healthy snacks are a concern.

For Those Who Have “Everything”

  • Make up coupons for tasks like raking leaves, mowing grass, painting, or cleaning.
  • Create a gift basket based on the recipient’s hobbies. Include gift certificates so that they can choose exactly what they want.

Remember the Reason for the Season

Every evening before bed, turn off all except the Christmas tree lights or nativity light, then sit and reflect on all of life’s blessings.

Merry Christmas To You All! Hope This Christmas And New Year Brings A Lot of Good Memories To You 🙂