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Reducing Stress at Christmas

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Stressed Out Woman With Christmas Presents
The holidays are a busy time, especially around Christmas. With shopping, parties to attend and plan, visiting friends and relatives, decorating and more to do, it's no wonder things get stressful. This is a guide about reducing stress at Christmas.
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Solutions

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December 13, 2011

Here's a good way to take some of the excess stress (and trash) out of Christmas Day; especially if you have kids. Before wrapping toys, remove all the excess packaging and put the toys back in the box. If a toy needs batteries, insert them beforehand. This way, your kids get to play right away, and the amount of trash gets cut in half!

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By Brianna S. from Dutch Harbor, AK

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By 3 found this helpful
September 27, 2011

Christmas is a time which cause many people to be stressed about money. Let's face it, it's way over the top. So here is how I cut my Christmas gift list to 4 gifts (yes, 4).

Who do we buy for out of expectation? I had a chat with my friends and we decided that it would help everyone to stop the buying of un-wanted or un-needed gifts.

As a family, we each now write a letter to Santa containing a selection of gifts to a given value. We then each become a nominated Santa's helper and are given someone else's letter. We then buy one gift from the person's list. This maintains the surprise but guarantees they will like it, not return it, and there is no shopping or financial stress.

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This is perhaps my favorite. My closest people gift each other promissory notes for gifts that are free: babysitting vouchers, help with decorating, weeding the garden, feeding the pet whilst on holiday. All free and the vouchers can be as Christmas-y as you like.

We also have a get together after Christmas where we swap one gift, which must be below a certain dollar amount and bought from a thrift shop or hand made. The kids all say this is the best day, and get so creative. We use up all the leftovers. We bring our unused crackers, recycle the cards, and play winter games. So we get two lovely family days for the price of one.

Enjoy the holidays!

By earthhat from Scotland

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October 1, 20050 found this helpful

Here is a great Christmas decorating idea to try. Try decorating ahead of time, I love this. We all get busy and tired the nearer Christmas gets. To stay stress free and get all the decorating done I do it SLOWLY, a little everyday, starting around the 3rd week of Nov. One day, I erect the tree (artificial), every night after that I toss on a few decorations while I watch TV. I also put suction cups in the windows to hold Christmas lights. Anyway, the main message here is start early and work slowly.

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By Linda Jonson

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By 0 found this helpful
December 19, 2007

To relieve stress during the holidays, make time for fun. Build a snowman or have a snowball fight with the kids, go tobogganing. Whatever you do, make it fun, relaxing and worry free.

By Meg from North Bay, Ontario

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 0 found this helpful
October 11, 2015

I'm struggling to find a way to cancel Christmas. I'm going on 75 and already dreading the holidays. I do all the work, cooking, cleaning, and decorating. My grandsons are 20 and 15. They never even acknowledge getting gifts much less a thank you. I live with my adult son and right after Thanksgiving he asks me when the tree is going up. He seems to want to bring back childhood memories, but doesn't want to help.

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From the day my grandsons were born I'm gone overboard on gifts and now I'm paying for those mistakes. In fact the only Christmas gifts the boys have gotten have come from me or ones bought from money I've given to my daughter and her husband. Money is tight they always say. How do I stop this craziness without feeling guilty and making everyone mad? It's just October and it's already stressing me out. I don't want to do this any more it's not good on my health.

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Answers

October 11, 20150 found this helpful

There is no reason why you should be responsible for all this. Are there really no other people in your family who know how to cook and clean?

Anyway, write a pleasant letter to all members of your family this is going to affect. Say simply that at the age of 75 you are officially retiring from Christmas and that from now on you will be spending the Holidays at home with your own small tree and Perry Como records on your vintage turntable.

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Tell them that now the grandsons are pretty much grown you know they will find a way to earn the things they want and need, because they are mature and resourceful.

I would suggest you still keep in touch during the Holidays. Sending out cards and baking cookies for the neighbors are the fun and low-key parts of the Holidays, besides being inexpensive. Just resist hints that money or gifts are wanted. Pretend these hints are going right over your head.

If you've elected yourself Queen of Christmas, you can certainly unelect yourself, and the sooner the better.

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October 11, 20150 found this helpful

Wow! This is a perfect time to decide on a little (big?) vacation during the holiday season! Travel is uplifting and very rewarding!!! Just tell everyone you are done with holiday stuff and will be "out" for the holidays. Have a great time!!!

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October 12, 20150 found this helpful

I was just going to say the same thing DCA! Great minds!!

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October 12, 20150 found this helpful

I would combine both of those ideas from the previous posters. Write to everyone and tell them you will not be hosting Christmas, nor exchanging gifts. Tell them it is too much of a strain for you. And then look for a vacation trip that you can take. When my husband and I were young we took trips a Christmas for several years, as that was the only time we were able to get away because of our jobs. It can be very heartwarming to travel places and see how other cultures celebrate. If traveling to far flung places seems not for you, you might think of an old friend or distant family that you might visit at this time of year.

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October 12, 20150 found this helpful

Sorry to ask here but can you tell me how I would find my posts? It was just approved but I cant find it. Thanks for any help. Ariela.

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October 12, 20150 found this helpful

We have gradually downsized Christmas. I do very little shopping for Christmas but a lot of cooking.

Our children come home for Christmas. It's 9 of us when we all get together. We celebrate Christmas with a big meal and play board games or watch movies with the two teenage grandchildren.

Two of our children live 3 1/2 hours away from home so they come and stay a few days.

With 7 big folks in a small house, it's rather full and very cluttered but for a few days, it does not matter. We have a great time together. There's no room for presents at our house at Christmas.

I put a small Christmas tree in the living room and the big tree goes on the screened in porch.

Not having to worry about shopping has been a big relief for this 75 year older.

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October 12, 20150 found this helpful

I think you should simply tell everyone that you cannot and will not be responsible for any of the Christmas preparations any more, as it is too stressful now, and your health comes first. Be firm about it, and do not relent. If they want a merry Christmas badly enough, they will come up with their own celebration. After all these years, you deserve to retire from all that work, especially if they never help and they aren't appreciative. If you have the means to travel, then that might be a good idea. If not, you have the right to do as little as you want to, and have your own quiet celebration at home. Your time is valuable and you should be enjoying it, instead of wearing yourself out. Be kind to yourself! I hope you enjoy a lovely, quiet Christmas this year!

When it becomes clear to your family that you really aren't taking charge of Christmas for them any more, they just might surprise you by stepping up and running it themselves! Who knows? If not, don't worry about it. They have to learn that it's much more fun, and in the Christmas spirit, to share in the preparations than sit by and let one person do all the work!

Have a lovely Christmas!

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October 12, 20150 found this helpful

I think you should simply tell everyone that you cannot and will not be responsible for any of the Christmas preparations any more, as it is too stressful now, and your health comes first. Be firm about it, and do not relent. If they want a merry Christmas badly enough, they will come up with their own celebration. After all these years, you deserve to retire from all that work, especially if they never help and they aren't appreciative. If you have the means to travel, then that might be a good idea. If not, you have the right to do as little as you want to, and have your own quiet celebration at home. Your time is valuable and you should be enjoying it, instead of wearing yourself out. Be kind to yourself! I hope you enjoy a lovely, quiet Christmas this year!

When it becomes clear to your family that you really aren't taking charge of Christmas for them any more, they just might surprise you by stepping up and running it themselves! Who knows? If not, don't worry about it. They have to learn that it's much more fun, and in the Christmas spirit, to share in the preparations than sit by and let one person do all the work!

Have a lovely Christmas!

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December 19, 20160 found this helpful

When our children became adults and married and have families of Their Own, we give money to them for Christmas I always wrap the money up in a Whimsical manner, we purchased the grandchildren one gift because they will receive gifts from the other set of grandparents, aunts and uncles, School parties and other family and friends. I plan a get-together for the family on Christmas Eve, each family will bring their favorite snack food and dessert or brunch food whichever we decide we want to enjoy on Christmas Eve, I also incorporate my husband's and my favorite snack food dessert and I furnish the beverages. At a gathering, we sit at the table or in the floor wherever we want to sit and enjoy snacking on the snacks and the grandchildren open their gifts and play with them, the adult children are given their money gifts and the night is a lot of fun. The simpler the better but lots of good memories.

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August 18, 20170 found this helpful

You don't have to feel guilty for a decision that is way overdue. Tell all your family members that starting this Christmas, things will be done entirely different. Tell them your health and finances leave you no choice. Let them know you will be glad to share the work and expense of a large Christmas dinner, but that this will be your gift to them. They may grumble, but they may have more respect for you in the end. Best wishes.

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August 18, 20170 found this helpful

Holidays should be enjoyable for everyone, including you. Well before Christmas, tell your son and grandchildren what you can and cannot do. You can also tell them if money is tight. They can either accept that the holidays will be lower key or they will step up to the plate if they want more. Don't feel guilty.

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By 0 found this helpful
August 25, 2009

I'm looking for your best advice for having a stress free holiday. It can be cooking, party planning, traveling, or gift giving. This information is for a magazine article and I will quote you. Thanks.

By easylikesunday from Philadelphia

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August 26, 20090 found this helpful

Buy all your gifts throughout the entire year, promising yourself that you will be done by Halloween.

Wrap everything between Halloween and Thanksgiving, then you can watch the holiday shopping craziness instead of participating in it.

Keep a notebook of who/what you purchased presents for. Keep a sheet of paper in your wallet with all the gift recipients names and notes on what you purchased already. refer to the note while you are in the store in case you see a good sale on something.

Also, plan out your menu, and get all the non-perishables throughout the year.

Shop online in the comfort of your home. always look for Free Shipping.

Shop the deep discount sales, Bath & Body works has up to 75% off (sometimes up to 90% off) towards the end of their Semi-Annual sale (mid June, and again in Mid January).

Delegate. Have the kids put up the tree and help wrap.

Buy wrapping paper at the after Christmas sales and keep on hand to start working on the coming year gift giving and gift wrapping.

Buy gift cards in advance, for instance I Knew I wanted a Honey Baked Ham last year, so I bought the gift card in August (when I had money), so that i wouldn't be too broke in December to afford it.

One gift per person only, including kids. Give a cheap wallet with $5.00 cash inside. No one has to know that the wallet was from the dollar store.

Print out your holiday recipes ahead of time and keep in a notebook.

Consider starting a new tradition, that instead of buying everyone a gift, that you will each draw a name out of a hat, and you will only buy one nice gift for that one person. Agree on a spending limit on that one gift ($25 or $30 should be the ceiling); that way you only have to purchase one item, vs. 20.

Good gift ideas:

stamps, frames, basket with diff brands scented soaps, dollar store travel bag with dollar store scented lotion and shower gel, burned CD with holiday favorite songs, 4 or 5 spices from the dollar store accompanied by a dollar store basket or kitchen mitt, dollar store crayons, glue, markers and ruler for kids.

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August 28, 20090 found this helpful

Do not be afraid to suggest drawing names out of a hat for the adults. The best Christmas we had was when the immediate family, there was about 9 of us, drew names and spent 50 dollars on the person we drew. Added to the name was a list of stuff that person liked. Stress free, everyone had an idea of what to get there person. Didnt spend a fortune. And everyone loved what they got because it was what they had asked for. I was just starting out in my own place and needed to outfit my kitchen. I ended up receiving 5 small appliances which I would have had to buy myself because I never would have gotten them for Christmas if not for us doing this. And I for one hate impractical cutesy gifts. I loved getting appliances for Christmas.

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August 28, 20090 found this helpful

Divide and conquer! I have priceless family heirloom recipes in my head,from years of preparing Christmas and Holiday dinners but I hate being in the kitchen. So,I wrap gifts (as a favor for the ones who don 't have the knack for wrapping),in the dining room close by, while I teach my daughters in law and granddaughters the secrets and tricks to the irreplaceable dishes.

I am also good at planning and making lists,but my arthritis makes it hard for me to shop,so I get everyone's money, checks, and lists together,shop the sale papers, and send the young energetic cousins to the mall with their brand new drivers' licenses.That gets them out of my hair,they can giggle and shop and catch up on each others lives, and still have energy when they get back! The menfolk can haul stuff,move furniture around if necessary,and lift turkeys in and out of stoves and such.And believe it or not, unless you want a designer tree,the guys and the little ones will entertain each other with lights and balls and tinsel for hours!

Another thing we do in our family is; everyone kind of lets me know what their particular need or want is, and I let the others know.if lightning ran in on a TV, for instance,I let everyone know, they all chip in,and one of us waits in line on the day after Thanksgiving for the doors to open at Circuit City, or wherever.Voila! Instead of a collection of gifts such as ties and sweaters,a brand new TV! Another thing I do is, I get the sale papers for the After Thanksgiving sales,pore over them,and see what different family members need that may be advertised.then I send OTHER family members to different stores before daylight,and each group "targets" the sale items in the store they are in, before they are snatched up.

To keep prying little eyes and fingers away from their gift before Christmas morning,I just don't put a name on them; I put a number. For instance, my number may be 24,the baby's is 7, etc., then I make a list of whose is whose and tuck it away.No one knows which gift is theirs,and after sneaking into enough national geographic videos,brown sweaters,socket sets,etc., they finally give up long before they reach the new Nintendo that's for them! Then on Christmas morning, I let someone hand out the gifts according to the lists of numbers. There is usually a mix up,though, somewhere along the line, and it is so funny when Grandpa opens up his sexy new nightie(which was supposed to go to the newest bride in the family!) The whole family spends Christmas morning laughing and smiling together. Next year, a new number for everybody.

You see, too may people try to do everything themselves. Share the preparations and the joy.

Last but not least, a heavy supper, an early bedtime, and a breakfast that doesn't have to be cooked,is your best bet when dealing with small children. A whiny, sleepy,cantankerous child can ruin the mood for everyone. Merry Christmas in advance, by the way!

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August 29, 20090 found this helpful

My tips?

1. Start early... even July or August isn't too early for winter holiday shopping.

2. Spread purchases over several paydays - or even several months - to lessen the impact on the budget.

3. Don't try to do it all: delegate whatever you can. The results might not be the same as if you'd done it, but the helpers will enjoy being included.

4. When you've done all the preparing you can, relax and enjoy the party! That's what especially Thanksgiving and Christmas are about, anyway: being with the ones you love. Only the pickiest will notice if the cupcakes are imperfectly frosted, for example.

Jo Cordell, Springfield, Ohio

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November 19, 20090 found this helpful

I think buying gifts for everyone you know is crazy. when you spread yourself so thin trying to keep everyone just content you leave no one truly happy. least of all yourself. In our family we do not gift for the Christmas holiday. We share each others company, love, stories of the past year, and so on. We celebrate birthdays much bigger than Christmas. That way everyone feels special on their own day.

If you can't give up the gift purchasing then I suggest 'secret Santa' gifts for the extended family and personal gifts for your immediate family (husband/wife, and children). The secret Santa way gives you a chance to really consider what would please the person you are giving the gift to. No one is offended by not receiving a gift from everyone, you'll spend significantly less money (which is always less stressful), you have a chance to really touch the heart of the receiver and it is really a lot of fun trying to keep the secret of who drew whom from the hat! My best wishes.

Sincerely, Rose

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