So, this is it. The wish-lists have been made, the shopping list is growing and the plans are coming together for Christmas day.

Women (yes, we’re deliberately being sexist here) across the country are running themselves ragged to give family and friends the “Perfect Christmas”. We’ve cleaned and cooked ahead to the point of exhaustion (way before Christmas) and suddenly you realize that it has to stop. Do we get this hysterical over Sunday lunch? No. Do the kids care whether it’s chicken, lamb and gammon on the menu? No. Do we really have to impress family, friends and neighbours with your decorations? No.

If you’re aiming to simplify Christmas, take time to ponder ways to cut stress, save money, and tame over-the-top traditions. What would make you and your family happy and less stressed this year?
If you’re putting together a wish list for the festive season, make sure that “experiences” not “stuff”, are at the top of your list. Research shows that we are increasingly viewing material items as cumbersome and stressful, and that it is the things we do, such as spending time with family and friends, that bring real contentment. In our materialistic society the enjoyment we receive from getting the latest perfume or the trendiest kitchen gadget fades very quickly.

Toddlers are not the only ones who grow tired of their new toys soon after the package is unwrapped!
So, make sure that this Christmas is about happy children, good friends and a loving family. Don’t get swept up in the holiday madness, have a different kind of Christmas and receive a different kind of gift!

Tips for Christmas calm:
• Stay home. A holiday “stay-cation” allows for camp-outs in front of the Christmas tree spent with loved ones … or maybe a good book? Beats holiday-travel any day. Fun!
• Cut-the-clean. Focus the cleaning on the kitchen and bathrooms, private areas can slide till season’s end.
• Prune the to-do-list. Knock down the list of chores to rock bottom necessities.
• Cut the gift list. Limit gifts to kids only, or organize a gift exchange with a set budget.
• Scale back on décor. Make a simple door wreath instead of spending the day trying to put up outdoor lights. Don’t underestimate a little tree! A miniature potted evergreen will add a lovely – and living touch. Plant it outside after the holidays and watch it grow.
• Stock up on the basics. Cut back on last minute grocery trips by being prepared.
• Have a few last minute gifts ready for unannounced guests. Keep a few jars of preserves, or beautifully wrapped soaps or wine at hand, you never know!
• Spend as little time as possible in front of the stove. Have delicious cold cuts with healthy salads or have a truly South African Christmas, braai!
• Have a “great escape” plan. For some of us there are added complications. Difficult in-laws, an ex, or memories of someone dear you’ve lost. Be kind to yourself, if you need to go out into the garden to weep, do.
• Make time for exercise. Christmas is for many, a time of excessive eating and drinking and exercise can be overlooked. This is a great way to reduce stress as it burns off hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline and helps to produce mood enhancing hormones.

For a truly merry Christmas maybe we should live a little more like the Danish, who consistently top the polls as the happiest nation. With their winters being cold and dark, the Danes embrace the concept of “hygge”. Pronounced “hooga”, it means creating a warm atmosphere and glow inside the house, and enjoying the simple things in life with favourite people – it’s about togetherness and belonging. May you have a new kind of Christmas day!

Source: womanandhomemagazine.co.za, countryliving.co.uk, www.skillsyouneed.com, christmas.organizedhome.com, www.marthastewart.com

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.