Christmas is my favourite time of the year. I love the decorations, holiday music, excitement in the air and the warm summer weather. It has always been my favourite holiday and I find the process of choosing, buying and wrapping each gift really enjoyable.
It can be stressful though, there always seem to be last minute gifts to buy or food to prepare.
It doesn't have to be this way though. There are many tips and tricks I have picked up along the way that do really help keep the stress away:
When planning gifts for family, friends, teachers etc, make a list with a budget for each person and stick to it. Be realistic about the money you can spend. You are the only person who will suffer if you run yourself into debt trying to please everyone else. Larger department stores will often have a mid year toy sale and offer lay buy until Christmas. This is a great time to buy bigger presents that you are sure your kids won't have lost interest in by the time Christmas Day arrives.
Delegate. If you are hosting lunch or dinner, tell guests what to bring. I spent years insisting on doing everything myself until I had kids and realised I couldn't do it all without losing my mind. Plus, I discovered quickly that people will bring something regardless of whether you tell them to or not so you might as well request something that you need. Have guests bring salad, side dishes like vegetables, condiments, drinks, dessert or even bon bons for the table.
If you are able to, take advantage of the Aussie Christmas weather and eat outside. There will be less mess to worry about and the kids can run around when they have finished. Then it's just a quick hose off for any scraps that have fallen.
Use your barbecue if you have one. This frees up the oven for other things. We do the traditional hot meal and usually cook the turkey in the oven and ham on the barbecue.
Have a few generic, spare gift items for unexpected gift givers or guests. If you don't end up using them you can always keep them for birthdays and other occasions.
After Christmas, everything goes on sale. Use this time to buy wrapping paper, cards, decorations and anything else that won't go out of date ahead of the following year.
Don't forget to stop and enjoy it. It is so hard to avoid getting caught up in all the stress and craziness. Put some carols on, relax and take a moment to really enjoy and appreciate how magical Christmas can be. If you have children, visit some Christmas lights or watch a family Christmas movie together. In years to come, they won't remember the gifts they received but they will remember the things you did together as a family each year.