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How to Enjoy Christmas Without the Stress

8 Minute Read

Well, here we are! December is upon us, and most people have already started making plans to shop, travel, spend time with family, and eat some delicious meals.

But does it seem like your to-do list is getting longer with each passing day? How can you balance what you need to do with what you want to do?

Take some time to slow down. Believe us, it will help reduce your holiday stress level. This time of year should be joyful! But the more strain you put on yourself, your family, and your wallet, the less room you’ll have to truly enjoy the magic of the season. Don’t cave in to the hustle and bustle! Here are 12 ways to keep the "merry" in Christmas by having a slow holiday you can savor:

1. Make a list and check it twice.

Maybe you have a mental list of everything you need to do and when you need to do it. But it helps to have a written list or calendar to see the big picture. If your shopping needs to be done by a certain date, write that down. If your neighbors have a yearly bash on the second Saturday of December, write that down.

The point is to see everything in one place to get an idea of what’s happening and when. Don’t like what you’re seeing? Reorganize your calendar and your to-do list to reflect the Christmas you want. Being intentional with your relationships also means being intentional with your time.

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2. Do a little bit here and a little bit there.

Delaying something until the last minute is rarely a good idea. Christmas shopping is the perfect example of that! Many people wait until halfway through December and then dash through the snow to the mall so they can buy gifts in a panic.

Trying to do all your Christmas shopping or cooking in one weekend can push you over the edge. Instead, keep it simple! It might be easier to shop for one or two people on your Christmas list each day. The idea is to have fun buying gifts for others and not make it feel like it’s a chore.

You can even space out your holiday baking throughout the month to help keep you in the spirit of things! Make Grandma’s Christmas cookie recipe at the beginning of the month instead of trying to cram it in on Christmas Eve. Keep the mood merry and bright and you’ll be able to manage tasks without feeling overwhelmed.

3. Shop at off times.

If possible, take some time off work on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning to do some Christmas shopping when there aren’t as many people cruising the mall. It’ll take less time and energy when there are no crowds to fight.

Or keep your holiday stress level at bay and just do all your Christmas shopping online. There’s nothing wrong with that! Plus, being able to see the items in your cart can help keep you from overspending. And you’ll probably save a bundle with all those coupon codes offered online. Win-win!

4. Don’t spend 40 hours a week on social media.

Stay away from the comparison trap, especially at Christmastime. Hide your eyes from the perfectly curated Instagram feeds and the DIY rabbit hole of Pinterest.

Don’t waste this joyous time of year apologizing to your friends and family because you didn’t bake every item from scratch or create an elaborate story each day for that pesky Elf on the Shelf! In Love Your Life, Not Theirs, Ramsey Personality Rachel Cruze said, "I’ve come to realize that when we start comparing ourselves to other people, we’re playing a game we’ll never win."

5. Don’t overcommit and overextend yourself.

Most likely, your December schedule includes party invitations out the chimney. But you don’t have to do everything on your calendar. You are in control! Remember, you can’t be everywhere at the same time. You can only attend so many family dinners, drive so far, and give so much. Just like with your money, you have limits with your time.

Be reasonable with what you can handle this season. Instead of going to five Christmas gatherings, pick one or two. You don’t want to burn out before Christmas Day even gets here! Prioritize your family’s time and only commit to what you want to. It’s all about quality, not quantity.

6. Decorate like a minimalist.

We all like to be just as festive as the next guy—no one wants to be a grinch. But don’t feel like you have to put up a Christmas tree in every room of your house. This isn’t Whoville.

Instead of decorating the entire house, keep it simple by decorating the tree and the mantel. Focus on your main living spaces where your family gathers most often. Take some of the pressure off yourself and ignore the urge to create a winter wonderland inside (or outside) your house this year.

7. Should you outsource?

Some stuff just has to be done. You can’t get rid of everything on the list. But if you’re feeling the pressure, consider paying someone else to do the stuff you don’t want to do.

Maybe that means recruiting a teenager in your church to wrap all your presents for some cash, or picking up store-bought cheesecake for your Christmas potluck at work. Or maybe you’re in need of a bigger splurge, like using a cleaning service before or after your big family dinner. Whatever it is, just make sure it’s in your budget, and get ready to feel the holiday stress melt away.

8. Stick to your daily rituals.

Try to keep as much of your routine in place as you can during the scattered schedule of the Christmas season. If your average day starts with getting up, pouring yourself a cup of coffee, and reading in the morning—don’t skip that. Having some normalcy can help keep you calm and focused on the day ahead. Plus, it’s a great way to keep your sanity . . . especially if your house is filled to the brim with guests for the holidays.

9. Don’t have too much of a good thing.

Yes, it’s true: "Stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts." But if you cut back on all the holiday stress, then maybe your waistline will thank you too. You can still indulge in the sweet stuff while using moderation. Just don’t go overboard. At least try to eat a little better than Buddy the Elf’s diet of candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup.

And don’t forget about exercise! It can help keep the Christmas pounds off and lower your stress level. If you can’t make time to get to the gym, make time to just move. Take the stairs at work, get up every hour or so and take a lap around the office, or get outside to walk at the peak of the day. Even if your exercise is just walking in the mall because it’s too cold outside, anything is better than nothing! (Just don’t give in to that temptation to shop while you’re there.)

10. Out with the old, in with the new.

No one wants to feel like their house is a cluttered mess with new gifts piled on top of old ones. This is a great time to sort through and organize your clothes, garage, and old toys. Sell or donate the stuff you know you don’’t use anymore—or wrap it up for a gag gift exchange.

11. Make a Christmas budget.

You saw this one coming, right? Take some time to think about all your Christmas expenses and decide exactly how much you will spend. Be sure to include all the parties you want to go to and the cost of gifts, food and decorations. Despite all of the holiday hoopla, stick to your plan no matter what! If you haven’t done your budget yet, get our free budgeting tool EveryDollar. It can help you get on track to meeting your goals this Christmas.

12. Remember what the Christmas season is about.

Christmastime is meant to be filled with joy, merriment and thankfulness. Carve out time with family and friends to reconnect with one another. You want to actually remember this Christmas, right? The idea is to be intentional—don’t let this month go by in a total blur.

Slow down and think about what you really want to do this season. Don’t get so caught up in the hustle and bustle you forget to enjoy the people you’re doing all this for. And have a merry—and much slower—Christmas!

Want a great way to reduce stress, learn how to be content, and love your own life? Put our exclusive Rachel Cruze bundle on your Christmas list. You’ll get Rachel’s New York Times best seller Love Your Life Not Theirs, a beautiful wallet, and a subscription to EveryDollar Plus. It’s contentment, plus style!

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