Like the Grinch, you can try to stop Christmas from coming, but I doubt you’ll be successful. I’m sure you don’t want to cancel the holidays; you think you do because you still have so much to do! Whether you’re eating turkey, turducken, tofurkey, or a free-range chicken, by the time you read this post, you won’t have much time left, so you might as well go with the flow and do the best you can. Here are a few last-minute tips for a stress-free Christmas.
Whatever you do, don’t panic. I often observe with my clients (and myself, for that matter) that panic leads to inertia. The key is to take a deep breath and realize that you can only do so much.
Curb your perfectionist tendencies as much as possible. Trust me, you’re the only one who knows things aren’t perfect. So, pick the things that you ‘have’ to do and forget the less important ‘it-would-be-nice-to-do’ things.
Use gift bags instead of wrapping everything. If wrapping all those gifts is something you leave until the last minute and you’re stressing out, use gift bags. That’s why they were invented! (I tried to find out who invented gift bags so I could thank them but alas, no luck.)
Write out the timing for holiday meals. This tip is for those who are like me and are not a whiz in the kitchen. The timing of Christmas dinner or any other meal involving multiple items seems to be the most stressful part of the holidays, even though you might be cooking for fewer people this year.
One technique that I have found helpful is to write down all of the pieces of the meal. We’ve got the turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes, squash, broccoli, glazed carrots, and gravy. And then, of course, whatever you are serving for dessert. If possible, make the stuffing and dessert the day before. Then, take the list of all the items and write beside them how long they take to cook. Now, figure out what time you want to eat your meal, subtract how long each thing takes to cook and voila! You will have start times to put beside each item. Remember, it takes a few minutes for a pot of water to boil (I always forget to add that part in). In case you didn’t know, this exercise is called backcasting. It can be used anytime you want to be somewhere or get something done by a specific time.
When you set aside gift-giving and decorating, this time of year is about spending time with your family. This year that might mean you have a computer screen in the center of the dining table so you can all be “together.” Try to relax, laugh and simply enjoy a stress-free Christmas without any comparison to what it was last year or might be next year.
And maybe, just maybe, like the Grinch, your heart will grow three sizes as well!