The most wonderful (and stressful) time of the year)

Whether you stay on Island for the holidays or not the hustle and bustle of Christmas can be overwhelming for all of us. Shopping, baking, entertaining, juggling children’s schedules and much more all contribute to an even busier home life. Here are some ways to hopefully reduce and/or release stress during this holiday season.

Avoid the Crowds:
When you are in a frenzy or a rush, you lose the importance of Christmas. If you have to make a trip to the shop don’t go during peak hours. If possible, take Tuesday morning off and avoid Saturday shopping. Avoid last minute shopping. You will feel more stress rushing around at the last minute and you will most likely spend more.

Establish Christmas events and rituals:
What are your best childhood Christmas memories? Sure that special gift that you absolutely had to have might have crossed your mind but most likely you’re thinking of family rituals and not the big expensive presents you got. Take time to carry on these traditions and establish new ones with your family and friends.

Slow down and enjoy each other:
Plan a special family event. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You don’t have to go on a trip or fancy dinner. But you could have a tradition of an evening of tree decorating, hot chocolate and a Christmas video.

Communicate and compromise:
The holidays are a time for us to celebrate and honour our close relationships. In times of stress pay very close attention to how you speak to your loved ones. Be prepared to compromise and change plans if necessary.

Set a realistic budget:
Figure out what you can afford ahead of time. Stick to it! Be honest and open with your children. Buy your Christmas presents with cash, then you can’t over-extend yourself on credit. Plan ahead and shop for bargains.

Secret Santa:
Draw names and set a dollar limit instead of buying gifts for everyone. This not only saves dollars, but also time. People are usually relieved at the suggestion.

White Elephant Party:
A gathering where each person brings a gift that is typically inexpensive, humorous items, or used items from home. The person who picks the first gift opens it and shows it to the rest of the company. Then the next person picks a gift and chooses to either unwrap it or exchange it for an unwrapped gift. If the gift is exchanged, the person who had their gift taken from them gets to unwrap the chosen gift and the turn passes. When all the gifts have been opened, the game is over. This can be a hilarious and inexpensive way to spend an evening.

Sharing is caring:
If you have the time, energy and know-how, make Christmas gifts like cookies, jam, or candles. Also, instead of buying a new dress for each year’s Christmas party, exchange and share clothes with friends or family for those special occasions. It’s a new type of recycling!

Remember Christmas is a season and not just one day. It’s important to preserve memories and relationships. If you are running from one party to the next how much do you remember and appreciate it all? To help yourself avoid the Christmas let down, plan an event or outing after Christmas Day. This keeps you from wearing yourself out and missing out on some good overall Christmas cheer.

The holiday season can be a very emotional time with potential for heightened expectations, family conflict, and financial difficulties. So, it’s best to prepare yourself and family members ahead of time. The true spirit of Christmas is to enjoy it, not just get through it. Use forgiveness, patience and above all be kind to yourself and others.Happy Holidays!