“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”

― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

There’s no denying it, Christmas is here. Ask a child and they will tell you that Christmas is a magical time: Santa visits, the streets are lit with sparkling lights and everywhere you go someone is giving you a candy cane! Now, ask a parent and often their response is very different. For many, the stress of Christmas starts from the moment the decorations hit the shops and doesn’t end until the singing of Auld Lang Syne. As we grow older it seems that time moves faster and too soon those tiny babies who once fitted so neatly in our arms are now children with wishes and expectations. The attempt to fulfill our child’s wishes and live up to the expectations of a perfect Christmas causes many of us to feel overwhelmed and lose sight of what this festive time should really be about. Whether you are time poor or stretched financially, there are ways that you can take the pressure off and try to recapture the true spirit of Christmas.


Take a big deep breath and remind yourself that you are only one person

You can’t do it all alone, even Santa has elves to help. Make a list and see what you can delegate. Need to get ready for the arrival of visitors? Enlist even the youngest of family members to help around the house. Make a game of tidying up clutter by adding a timer and some fun music. Give them each their own tub and see who can fill it the fastest. Cleaning doesn’t need to be a chore and with a little imagination it can become a fun family task that will provide everyone with a sense of achievement.

Don't lose sight of the bigger picture


Whilst you’re clearing the decks for the onslaught of family and friends, it is a great time to remember that Christmas is a time for giving. Engage children in discussions about those that are less fortunate than themselves and encourage the whole family to donate items to a Christmas charity appeal, hospital or community group. Giving without receiving is a wonderful thing for children to experience and will assist them to build character virtues that will last a lifetime.


Get creative


Get creative and recycle, reuse or repurpose items around the house to make wrapping paper, cards, gifts or decorations. Newspaper and red twine for wrapping paper is fun and interesting. Empty jars can be filled with rocks or sand to create unique table decorations and make a great gift idea for the nature lover by adding soil and seeds to make a living present. Involving the whole family in designing and creating of individual gifts allows children to feel valued, makes the receiver feel special and illustrates the importance of sustainability.


Simplify things


Feel like there are too many people to give to or feed at Christmas time? Make it easy for everyone by organising a secret Santa and setting an agreed limit for spending. For those with a sense of adventure, buying a random gift and having a lucky dip will add an element of surprise and excitement on Christmas Day. Sweating over the oven on a hot summer’s day is not anyone’s idea of fun. Take the worry out of feeding all those hungry mouths by asking family or friends to bring a plate. Assigning each guest a course, whether it be nibbles, a salad, or dessert takes the pressure off catering for different tastes and allows everybody to sit down and enjoy the paper hats and bon bons.

Christmas is a time to enjoy laughter, fun and love with those that you hold near and dear. It is a time to reflect on the year that has been and relive memories and highlights. Keeping it simple, using your imagination, asking for help and sharing the load with family and friends will help reduce the stress that sometimes comes with the silly season. Working together, whether it be preparing the house, creating gifts or making a meal, will benefit the whole family and allow the spirit of Christmas to last well into the New Year.