How Stress Stole Christmas

Everyone around me the past couple days has had this odd mixture of Christmas elation and anxiety induced stress which makes for an interesting combination. All you happen to see are a bunch of women clapping “Go, go, go, soldier! We must get through this department store now!” and men following behind them, shaking their heads, wondering what the big deal is.

Of course, I do want to say the roles are sometimes reversed – men wrapping gifts when people are trying to sleep and all you hear is the sound of scissors slicing through wrapping paper.

Then there are the people taking a car trip across country to visit family, and by the time they arrive for the festivities, they are already drained and stressed out. This just adds to the awkward family dynamics when you ask, “What’s wrong?” and they say “Nothing,” yet have this look on their face that makes you wonder if they’re mad at you for only buying them one gift. Or no gifts. You know. But it’s not they’re fault – it’s understandable. They’re exhausted.

Then, we have the awkward family gatherings with too many people filed into one tiny house. I love seeing family. Don’t get me wrong. But trying to maneuver around 20 different people in a small house – in the kitchen, no less – is likely to encourage anyone to run away with an empty plate.

Here are my top tips about reducing the stress that comes with the Christmas season.

# 1 – Outline Your Role

Outlining your role is important because it lets you know what kind of plan you will need to make. Are you going to be the Host? A guest? Just buying gifts for people? Decorator? A combination of some or all of those?

Knowing your role during the Christmas season will allow you to go on to step 2, which is to:

# 2 – PLAN.

Yes. That’s in all caps. It’s because that’s how important this step is. Once you know your role, you need to make a plan. Outline the steps of what you’ll need to do, and when you need to have those things done by.

For example,

  • HOST
    • Buy Christmas Decorations – Complete by NOVEMBER 15
      • More ornaments for the tree
      • tablecloths
      • Wreath
    • Buy Christmas Presents – Complete by NOVEMBER 25
      • Jerry – A Christmas globe
      • Angela – A set of Fuzzy Socks
      • … (and on)
    • Find a Date to celebrate that will work for the family – Complete by DECEMBER 10
    • Text the family with date, time, and what they need to bring. Complete by DECEMBER 12
      • Tell Jerry to bring the Christmas Turkey
      • Tell Angela to bring the Mashed Potatoes
      • Tell Samantha to bring the Chips
      • Tell Hannah to bring the Drinks – Soda, Juice, and Tea
    • Confirm Which Family Members Will Be There – Complete by DECEMBER 19
      • (and the list goes on and on)

As you can see, there needs to be a main topic point and subtopic points with an End Date. It would also be helpful to have these items on a calendar that will send you a notification through your phone. Also, notice what happened here? This savvy Host did something really cool. She delegated. Which leads into my next point.

# 3 – DELEGATE

That is also in caps. Know why? Because this is one of the biggest steps a host can do to reduce stress and anxiety. Often times, I will see the host running around like a (excuse the cliche) chicken with their head cut off. It’s really unnecessary if proper planning has been put into place (but is that usually the case?)

Delegating allows the host, or any other family member with a large Christmas responsibility, to reduce the stress load on themselves, which will make for a more calm and stress free family gathering.

# 4 – For God’s Sake – Have people get food in stages for large gatherings

Kids first. Then Women. Then Men.

Or Kids, Men, then Women.

Or by hair color (on second thought … that still may not work.)

Or have people draw numbers on slips of paper. Odds go first, evens go last, or something like that.

But I mean, my god, please have some kind of system so people don’t start hyperventilating from claustrophobia.

I hope you enjoyed my tips on how to reduce stress during the Christmas holiday. If you enjoyed this post, please share with your friends!

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