Celebrating Christmas is fun, but all the planning, shopping, and cooking that leads up to it can be frustrating. If you find that Christmas is becoming more stressful each year, to the point where you dread the season and can’t wait for it to end, make changes in the way you plan for and celebrate the holidays.
Forget about spending huge sums of money and putting up lots of decorations and a big tree. Concentrate on celebrating the holidays in different, less hectic ways. Here are some ideas that will reduce stress and maybe even save you money.
Make Homemade Gifts
Skip traditional store-bought gifts and replace them with homemade gifts. The gift could be a tin of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, a refurbished electric guitar, a home-sewn cloth purse or cell phone cover, even a painting or caricature from the artist in the family.
A homemade gift or service, like repairing an appliance or doing someone’s makeup or hair for a party, is more personal than buying a mass-produced gift at the store. Use your talents and skills to provide gifts instead of a credit card.
You can also have everyone in the family (or in your group of friends or co-workers) contribute money to a pool and go to a concert, sporting event or play everyone wants to attend.
Let Other People Cook
Instead of spending Christmas Eve or Christmas Day slaving over a hot stove, go out to a restaurant or buy prepared food that you just need to heat up on Christmas. You’ll have more time to socialize and have fun with family, without worrying about checking on the turkey or sides every few minutes.
Host a potluck dinner to avoid spending time and money on cooking a feast. Provide a few basics like coffee, alcohol and desserts and have guests bring dishes to share. If you’re concerned about people bringing duplicate dishes, you can always discuss prospective dishes with guests in advance.
Take Decorating Tips from Other Cultures
Instead of lugging out boxes of decade-old lights from the basement, find a different way to decorate your home for Christmas. Study traditions of other countries and do your version of decorations in a country of your choice. In Australia and other countries located in the southern hemisphere summer, people use seashells or plastic fish to decorate their trees. Hang nautical and beach-themed items on your tree if you want an Australian Christmas tree.
In the Ukraine, spiders and spider webs are a sign of good luck, so you can take your spider-themed Halloween decorations out them on your Christmas tree. Candles are used to decorate trees in Germany. Put electric candles on your home Christmas tree and regular lit wax candles on your mantel or on a tabletop.
In China, Christians decorate trees with paper lanterns and fresh flowers. The French often use red apples and other fresh fruits as decorations. Pick the fruit for dessert or a snack. Do you like to bake? In the Netherlands, biscuits called kerstkransjes in the shape of Christmas wreaths are strung on trees, much like we string popcorn balls on our trees in the U.S.
If you do prepare Christmas dinner at home, try something different, like an all vegetarian feast, or ethnic dinner based on other countries Christmas cuisine or anything you family enjoys even if it’s not traditional Christmas pizza a for Christmas dinner.
Be CharitableIf you know someone who is down on their luck, bring them a home-cooked meal, Christmas decorations, or treat them to a movie or other events. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or join s food drive to give the homeless gift cards. Helping others in person is the best approach, but you can also donate through sites like GoFundMe. You can also donate to a charitable cause in a friend’s name.
Visit a nursing home and spend time with elderly folks. Sing carols, bring small presents and talk with the residents about their Christmas memories.
Write letters and send Christmas cards to soldiers overseas, with or without a care package. These packages may contain soap, shampoo and other toiletries, baked goods, books, DVDs, iTunes gift cards, or flash drives filled with music.
Get Out of the House
You can also stay at a hotel and enjoy a Christmas brunch, spa and the health club. Some hotels offer entertainment or special events for Christmas. You don’t need to check into an expensive hotel to pamper your family. Even mid-range hotels will give you a respite from cooking and cleaning on Christmas day.
Get some exercise. Enjoy the winter air, unless it's too windy or there are blizzard conditions. Take a walk winter wonderland, sled, ice slate or ski. If you live in a warm climate swim, hike or bike. If you live near stores or a walkable downtown area, look at Christmas decorations and window shop. Stop for dessert in a restaurant or coffee shop.
Are there zoos or museums open in your area on Christmas Day? Take advantage of the light traffic to enjoy culture without the crowds.
If you go to a friend’s or relative’s house, bring a special dish and/or small gift. Offer to take over cooking or cleaning chores for a while your host rests.
Try Different Ways to Exchange Presents
Many workplaces offer Secret Santa gift exchanges, but this holiday tradition can apply to families or groups of friends as well. Everyone in your family or group randomly draws another person’s name. Everyone in your family or group receives one gift. You can even set a limit on gift prices if you’re on a budget.
Choosing the right present for people can always be a headache, especially if you’re on a budget. Giving simple and useful gifts that everyone needs is a possible solution for this problem. If one of the people on your gift list is a practical person (or if they are having trouble making ends meet), buy household items, like laundry detergent, hand soap, shampoo, cleaning supplies, or towels. Everyone needs these items! Buying a two or three month supply will save the recipient money, and you won’t wonder if your gift was returned because they didn’t need it.
Traveling is an option, too. Most people think of spending Christmas at a relative’s house or at home, but you can also celebrate the holidays on vacation. Visit Iceland, the Galapagos Islands or other unusual destinations or enjoy Christmas (and plum pudding) in London. Most cruise lines offer special Christmas cruises, complete with entertainment and lavish buffets, with stopovers in the Baja Mexico, the Bahamas, or more exotic ports.
Celebrate Christmas bit by bit, instead of going all-out on December 25th. Christians used to celebrate the first day of Christmas on December 25th, and continue to celebrate in low-key ways for the next 12 days, just like the song “The 12 Days of Christmas. Tone down your Christmas Day celebration, and spread out the holiday cheer over the next 12 days. You may spend one day at the ice rink, another enjoying after Christmas sales, a weekend exploring a national park and a night at a family musical or the Nutcracker ballet.
A Commercial Christmas May Be Too Stressful for Some People
As a kid, you probably couldn’t wait for Santa Claus to deliver your presents. As a grown-up, preparing for the holiday is stressful on your bank account and may compromise your health. A survey conducted by the website Healthline showed that 62 percent of respondents were somewhat or very stressed, Finances and dealing with family members were the main causes of stress, but not having time for personal care, such as exercise and restful sleep, were mentioned, too.
It’s important to pace yourself whether you decide to have a traditional or alternate Christmas. Shift your cognitive approach from the routine, and adapt to the changing demands of the holiday season. You should list all the next day’s activities on your phone’s Notes or Reminders, or on another app.
Your brain’s prefrontal cortex works overtime, and this extra load may reduce memory and prevent new brain cells from forming. When the stress you experience at particular times during the Christmas season ends, you’ll feel better and be able to get back to your normal routine. Holiday stress is acute stress – you’ll bounce back from it after New Year’s.
Activities for Teens and Older Kids
Make sure teens and older kids remain engaged during the holidays by giving them a choice of holiday activities. Little kids have toys from Santa to look forward to, and adults have shopping, work parties, and other activities. Teens and pre-teens may feel left out, so always remember to find Christmas traditions that they can enjoy.
Teens and older kids are interested in music and other creative pursuits. Ask your teen if he or she has ideas for how to decorate the living room tree. Buy a small tree for your teen’s room and let her decorate it.
Work on Christmas art projects with your teen, or let him finish a project on his own. Drawings, paintings, ornaments, wreaths and Christmas cards are just a few ideas for holiday DIY projects.
Watch a Christmas movie marathon that includes more action-oriented favorites like “Diehard” along with family fare.
Bake and decorate whimsical cupcakes or cookies with sprinkles and red and green frosting. Make popcorn balls and put them on the tree or across the mantel.
Hold an ugly sweater contest. If you don’t have enough ugly sweaters on hand, buy some at a thrift store or purchase new ones online. Ugly Christmas sweaters are now a trending item, so they aren’t the outcasts they were just a few years ago.
Make a family Christmas video. Sing carols or perform a skit or story centered around one song. You can also send a video Christmas card to friends and relatives instead of a paper or digital card. Give everyone a recap of the last year and a look at your Christmas decorations. Work on a video (or write a blog post) about the past year’s highlights.
Have your teen plan and host a Christmas party. Help with the planning and shopping, but leave the final decision up to your teen.
Relieving Stress during the Holidays with a Healthy Diet – and Wheatgrass
You may not be able to avoid holiday stress, but you can manage it better by maintaining a healthy diet in between parties and family gatherings. Save all the sugary treats, ham dinners, and alcohol for the festivities and eat healthy the rest of the time.
Avoid stopping for fast food or a mega-calorie coffee drink on a shopping break. Choose plain, old-fashioned coffee or tea, a meal at Sweet Green, Chipotle, or another modern restaurant chain or swig bottled water till you get home. Walk up stairs instead of taking the elevator at the mall or the office. Make time for the gym when you can, or exercise at home.
Even if you think you’re too busy to exercise, you may actually be getting more physical activity than usual. Use the health app on your phone to count your steps. You may be getting 10,000 steps or more if you’re running a lot of errands – provided you don’t spend most of it driving in your car.
Get more energy during the hectic holidays by taking a wheatgrass supplement. Wheatgrass has magnesium to keep your muscles working properly, potassium for heart health, Vitamins C, E,A and K, amino acids, B-complex vitamins and hundreds of enzymes. REVV Natural Energy Supplement, from Wheatgrass Love, is made with pure wheatgrass and has a delicious chocolate mint flavor.
In addition to wheatgrass, REVV has cocoa, which is full of antioxidants called flavoniods. Flavonoids have free-radical fighting properties to prevent inflammation. REVV has caffeine to boost your energy even more, along with periwinkle herb to enhance memory and L-Taurine to support neurotransmitters in your brain and a healthy heart.
If stress is more of a problem for you than low energy, Wheatgrass Love also makes Happy Girl, a wheatgrass supplement to balance emotions the natural way. Read more about Wheatgrass Love supplements here.