Christmas Stress Tips For Parents Who Just Want To Relax A Little

Let's all lower the bar and enjoy some downtime this season.

More and more we are becoming a society of chickens running around with our heads cut off. And it only gets worse during the holidays.

We juggle more balls, spin more plates, and every year when Christmas is over we collapse in a heap — usually with strep throat or the flu — just to do it all again the next year.

Well, we’ve had enough of the stress. Maybe this is the year we should take a deep breath and do things differently. Let’s all place our right hand on a Marie Kondo book and swear to curb the complexity of Christmas and make it an enjoyable holiday again.

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It doesn’t have to even be a major shift, but a move in the right direction.

Here are seven simple ways to cut corners (and stress) this holiday season:

1. Use paper plates and napkins

Wouldn’t you rather be enjoying your company or children than be stuck in the kitchen scrubbing plates or loading and unloading the dishwasher? There are plenty of fashionable Christmas tableware options out there, as well as more eco-friendly, compostable ones if you’re worried about the waste.

If you can’t bear the idea of paper plates for the big turkey feast, you could even just use them for breakfast and lunch.

2. Skip the holiday cards

Save time, money and a tree by either skipping the whole card tradition this year, or sending something out electronically. A mass e-card or a Facebook post shows your spirit without the added time and expense of sitting down to write dozens of personalized messages by hand.

3. Purchase pre-made food

Today, there is a huge range of prepared meals for busy families that you just pop in the oven and toss together with a bagged salad. Voila, done! Perfect for a hot meal after a day of tobogganing with the cousins.

Or if that seems too extreme, check out a deli or shop that does pick-up catering or specialized Christmas meals.

One less meal to stress over.

4. Skip the baking

Unless you find your bliss baking holiday cookies and bars, why not give it a pass this year and purchase an assortment instead?

No, you won’t get the raving compliments for your melt-in-the-mouth shortbread, but Walkers has been doing just fine with their recipe since 1898 and you can find them at any grocery store or pharmacy.

You can decorate cookies without actually baking them from scratch, FYI.
You can decorate cookies without actually baking them from scratch, FYI.

If the kids (or you!) are keen on decorating cookies, buy a roll of the pre-made stuff and just get to the fun part of the process. It’s a low-stress solution that doesn’t compromise the experience.

5. Skip the wrapping paper

Wrapping gifts takes time, effort, and is very wasteful.

How about getting a load of cheap bags and tissue paper at your local dollar store and getting the whole task done in 20 minutes? And you can re-use bags. Seems like a win-win.

You can even buy re-usable fabric bags to reduce your carbon footprint.

6. Chill on the house cleaning

Cleaning is highly over-rated in my opinion (I hear some people sweep their kitchen after every meal).

If you’ve having company, don’t get overwhelmed about the state of your living room. Clear all the clutter into bins and throw them in the basement to be sorted later.

If you have the funds, hire a house cleaner. Or, just decide what’s most important (like cleaning the guest bathroom and putting out a clean hand towel), and keep it to that. Or remind your guests you have kids that actually live in the house and if they expect sparkling counters they’ve come to the wrong place.

Done and done. Another stressor gone.

7. Minimize the decorating

I personally find wrapping garlands around banisters a huge pain. My kids love the look so much they have taken on the job themselves. Fine, as long as it is off my list of things to do and my suffering is reduced.

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Outdoor lights that need to be installed, up a ladder, in the cold, are fully optional! Maybe this year it’s time to invest in a really knockout wreath for the door or just put some candles in the window.

Whatever you decide to eliminate this Christmas season in the name of simplicity and ease, see if you can’t help inspire others to lower the bar. Downtime with friends and family really should be “down time.”

Your blood pressure will thank you.

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