Top 11 tips for a stress free Christmas

Dinner Place Setting with Christmas Cracker and Glasses1. Where?

Decide well in advance where you want to be for Christmas and who do you want to see? For most people Christmas is the only time they will have off work for a while. Therefore, instead of being run ragged by doing the mad visit to cram everyone in. Plan in advance and allow time for yourself.

2. Christmas Cards

Do you need to send so many? Be ruthless with your list, if others haven’t responded to your cards recently, they may have moved away.

Also, instead of writing the envelopes by hand. Purchase some labels and using a label template on your computer, type in all your addresses and when completed just press print.

3. Christmas Day Meal – How many?

Does everyone descend on you for Christmas? Are you expected to produce a meal for the masses with very little input from others? I’m not talking about Christmas meals where the cost / work is shared or where one extra person, who can easily be accommodated will be joining you. I’m talking about the people who have invited themselves and their families (including their four children) to your place but do not contribute to the cost, no bringing a single bottle of wine doesn’t cut it, nor do they reciprocate the following year.

In these cases, stop the free meals. Let the other party know in advance that you’ve decided that from now on you’re going to have your Christmas meal at a local restaurant / pub and it will cost them £x for their family. They may decide that’s a good idea or instead they may decide to stay at home themselves.

4. Presents – Cost

If you have a large family and other people to buy for too then set a limit of £5 or £10 per person. It’s much more fun trying to find something a little different at a certain price then just buying an expensive gift that may not be appreciated. Also some families decide to just buy presents for the children and not the adults.

5. Presents – An alternative

Why not get creative and make up a hamper with some home-made goodies. There are courses which cater for hand-made gifts for Christmas, you spend the day learning a new skill and you have presents done and dusted, plus you never know, you may discover a hobby that turns into a business!

If you can’t think of what to buy someone, then the trusted Gift Voucher is an excellent option. I know that people tend to dismiss the humble voucher but I think they’re great and far better than an unwanted present.  A gift voucher doesn’t have to be from the big chains, you could say that you will treat them to a day out in the spring, for example a theatre visit, this way you aren’t paying out close to Christmas time. Also, please don’t forget the independent business owner and support them.

6. Shopping for food and supplies

If you’re staying put and doing the cooking, remember you only need food supplies for a few days, there is no need to do the mass panic buying.

If you’re looking to have food etc delivered from a supermarket, remember that the delivery slots are booked up in advance. So if you have to venture out, you may have to shop at an unusual hour to find a relatively quiet time. Also, go with a list, this way you won’t forget anything vital.

7. Milk – A vital ingredient

I include this, as one year on Christmas Eve I discovered that the milk I had bought had gone off. Luckily I was able to get to the shops in time to replace it but as a stand-by, I recommend milk powder as a stop-gap.

Also you could buy a 2 pint container of milk and use some of it to fill an ice cube tray, these you can use in a cup of tea. With approximately a fifth of it removed place the remainder of the milk in the freezer. When you need to use it, place it in the fridge to defrost – a 2 pint container will take a good 24 hours.

8. On the day

If you are doing the entertaining, then have a plan. I don’t mean that you have to stick to it minute by minute but have an idea of how you want the day to go. For example, if you have children, then allow them to open their presents from Father Christmas in the morning and save the ones from you and other family members till later in the day. Try to get out and have a walk, fresh air can be just what you need especially if nerves are getting frayed. Also have a tea / coffee rota, so it’s not just you constantly making them. Strangely, people tend to help themselves to alcohol.

9. Christmas Day Meal

So many people get into a panic over the Christmas day meal, just treat it as a Sunday roast with table decorations. You can do the majority of the cooking the day before, giving you time to relax and enjoy the day. Eat the vegetables you like, personally I can’t stand brussel sprouts so I don’t eat them. If you have been run off your feet and can’t face the thought of chopping and prepping, you can always do the Delia thing and go for frozen vegetables, with seasoning no-one may spot the difference.

10. Single?

If you are single and can’t face the prospect of spending Christmas day alone then volunteer to help out at a charity on the day. Those who have done this say it’s very rewarding and they usually return the following year.

Finally enjoy yourself, if it has proved too much for you, then you can always consider going away for Christmas next year.


Ashling Cullen – I specialise in treating back pain, anxiety, stress work burnout and life overwhelm using natural gentle therapies which include The Dorn Method and Bio-Energy healing. Returning my clients to great health is my passion.

After spending a decade in the corporate Engineering sector that left me burnt out and suffering from severe stress, I now work to (prevent if I can) or help those who are experiencing similar circumstances. You only have one life, why spend it in pain?