Christmas is a magnificent season, with lights, food and family. It should be the most magical holiday of the year, but the truth is, these days in December can be an extremely stressful time. Decluttering your house and decorating it for the festive season, cleaning for the guests, preparing all the food and drinks for the big party, and worst of all, cleaning it all up again, can make this holiday lose its original meaning. In order to help you preserve your Christmas spirit and avoid unnecessary stress, we have made a list of how you can make the holidays less stressful and more enjoyable!
1. Learn to say no
There are so many events happening these days: his Christmas staff party, her office holiday party, the kids' school events, a friend's Hanukkah celebration (and you might even help to clean after). Having so many events on your calendar during and around the holidays can be very stressful. Restrict yourself to important and meaningful events, and be ready to say no to others. Having a quiet evening for yourself and your family will do wonders for your mood and level of stress.
2. Re-evaluate the need for holiday cards
If printing, writing, signing, and sending out dozens of Christmas cards every year is giving you a headache in October already – then don't! Think about why you have been sending them out in the past years, and if you really want to send them out this year or just feel pressured into doing it. If you absolutely want to send out holiday cards, make sure to limit your list of recipients to a reasonable number. For your friends and their families, an e-card might be the better solution: you can personalize them just like a normal Christmas card, but they are easier to set up, and much more eco-friendly.
3. Don't stress out over Christmas presents
Don't push back the gift-buying until the very last minute, because the shops will be getting worse and worse the closer the holidays come. Wish lists are a great help to let others know what you would like to receive for the holidays, but if your friends and family don’t use them, have your own lists where you track if someone close to you drops a hint as to what they might like, or what they could need. When buying gifts, use the free gift-wrapping service to make it easier on yourself.
If before Christmas you are still out of ideas for your loved ones, gift vouchers make great last minute presents. They can seem thoughtless if chosen without care, but you can make them more personal by choosing carefully.
Why not treat a mother of 3, who is running herself to the ground, to a relaxing spa day, including a babysitter (and a house cleaning service gift certificate)? Which young couple wouldn't like to try that new hip restaurant in town? You know that the favourite band of your friend will be coming to town soon? Treat them to a concert ticket! If someone in your family is overwhelmed with the housework and looking for some help around the house, why not give them a gift certificate for a professional house cleaning? If you're lucky enough to live in Vancouver, Calgary or Toronto, you can book your house cleaning service on our website.
4. Get your family involved
A lot of stress comes from all the preparations beforehand, but you can make it easier on yourself by having your family chip in to help get ready for the upcoming holidays. Your husband could clean the bathroom or kitchen, using one of our natural cleaners, instead of you. No matter what age the kids are, they can take over the decorations. The house might not look 100% how YOU would have decorated it, but they will have fun and will be getting the Christmas spirit into your family home. Perfection is overrated anyway! The kids can also set the table for the party, which frees up some more minutes for you. Just tell them what to do, or write a list and have them choose their tasks.
5. Don't reject help from your guests
Most guests will ask you if they should bring something to your party – why refuse the offer? If you have a list of dishes you would like to have, ask them if they would like to take over one of them. Brussels sprouts or roasted vegetables can be “outsourced” very easily, just like Christmas cookies or other desserts. You will have more variety on your table and less stress yourself! And if someone offers to help clear the table after the feast, don't be afraid to take them up on it. The tedious task is more fun if you can talk to others while doing it, and working together means you will be able to get back to entertaining your guests more quickly. Your guests will be happy to help you in any way they can.
6. Choose dishes that can easily be prepared beforehand
A lot of typical Christmas dishes can be prepared before the actual party, and stored in the fridge for a day or two, or in the freezer for several weeks. For example, cranberry sauce could be made in bulk for Thanksgiving and frozen in a well-sealed container. To defrost, place it in the fridge overnight and heat it up right before serving it with your turkey. Your stuffing could also be prepared up to 3 weeks before Christmas and kept in the freezer until needed. Vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, broccoli, cauliflower etc. can be parboiled the day before the big dinner, then dried thoroughly and stored in the bottom of the fridge, wrapped tightly. Onions can be peeled, chopped and stored in the fridge in an air-tight container. You could peel the potatoes the night before, placing them in a bowl of water and keeping them in the fridge until needed. Preparation is king! And to keep everything hygienic, we are giving you 8 tips in that other article.
7. Have non-alcoholic drinks ready
Make sure to prepare an alcohol-free drink version for kids, pregnant guests, designated drivers and people who just want to stay sober when you are making the alcoholic drink. It doesn't have to be a lot of work, because you can use similar ingredients and spices for both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink. If you are having hot cider, simply put together a hot apple juice with the same spices. If you are serving mulled wine at your party, prepare a mix of fruit tree (for example a loose Pina Colada tea) with a splash of orange juice and a hint of spices such as cinnamon and cloves – an absolute favourite of kids! A fruit punch can always be made alcohol-free by not soaking the fruit in alcohol, and using lemonade instead of wine or champagne. It's not much more work, and will make the drink choice so much easier for everyone who doesn't want to drink alcohol.
8. Prepare yourself for kids and pets
If there will be kids and pets at your holiday party, prepare for them. For dogs, have an empty corner ready, with a food and water bowl. Ask the pet parents to bring a blanket the dog is familiar with, so that it will feel comfortable and relaxed at the party. Also ask the pet parents if the dog is okay to be around kids, and if not, to let the kids know that this particular corner is off-limits.
For kids, it's best to prepare a separate, low table for them, with colouring books and crayons, board and card games or books (depending on the kids' age and preferences, of course). Set up a rotation between the parents to supervise the kids, so that everyone gets to enjoy the food, the party and the conversation at some point. If you have guest bedrooms, prepare some beds or have blankets on the living room couches in case the young ones get cranky and tired, because a short nap might get them back into good spirits.
9. Don't forget to take care of yourself
The holidays are stressful, and there is always more to prepare, more to clean, more to do. Just… don't. No matter what else you have on your plate, make sure you take a walk if you feel like you need one. There is nothing so urgent that it couldn't wait a few minutes. 30 minutes of walking outside will help to clear your mind, and the nature and fresh air will do wonders for your mood. So go out and get walking!
Also, unless there is a clash of events, don't cancel your usual appointments in the gym or in your sports club. Sports will help you get out of the house, clear your head and give you more room to breath - that's exactly what you need to relax right now! On top of that, it's very healthy and will help you survive the holidays feeling fit and good with yourself, instead of bloated and stressed. And if you do feel tense in the evening, you should take a nice, hot bath with some drops of calming Lavender essential oils. Your muscles can relax, and you can forget the stress for a couple of minutes. It will only take some 30 minutes, but you will feel much better after.
10. Treat yourself
Your Christmas party is over, the food all taken care of, the guests happy and on their way home. Unfortunately, now comes the post-party clean-up, so that means even more work for you. On thing that can help already is to check out our post-party green cleaning list. Then, why don't you treat yourself to a special Christmas present by booking professional cleaning services, (their green cleaning products make a great gift too)? Your whole house will be sparkling, and all without you getting stressed out and worked up about it! After all the work you've put into your holiday celebration, you deserve to have somebody else take care of the mess. Your party was a huge success, so book a cleaning service and relax, knowing that your house will be clean in no time at all!
Christmas and New Year’s Eve can be very stressful days, but with those suggestions, you should be able to make them more relaxed for yourself this year. We wish you and your whole family very happy and hopefully relaxed holidays, and a great time getting together with all your friends and family!