Keeping it calm this Christmas

It can be pretty easy to get caught up in the Christmas crazies. I’ve been guilty of this is the past, rushing about the shops at the last minute, buying gifts without putting a great amount of thought into it (simply for lack of time!), generally just stressing out.

As I’ve gotten older however, I’ve mellowed a little and realised that stress and Christmas need not necessarily go together.  Even more motivation behind this realisation is the fact that I now have my own small children, who absorb all my actions like little sponges, and I really don’t want them associating what should be a special time with stress and anxiety.

That being said, I am definitely not all ‘zen mama’ about it all the time, and there are certainly moments of chaos, but I've come to learn and put into practice a few things that make things just that little bit easier during the festive season.  I thought I’d share some of them here, and would love to hear any other useful tips or words of encouragement from others out there in the cyber sphere!

It wouldn’t be a teacher’s household without lots of Christmas craft happening. Each Christmas I’ll usually pick about four or five craft activities to work on during the school holidays, and then head to the shops early to pick up supplies.  Pinterest is a fantastic resource for these activities, and where I get most of my ideas. The teacher in me also always has a Christmas activity book photocopied and planned for each of my littles; they enjoy working on this during their down time or when I’m knee-deep in housework.

We also like to send out Christmas cards to family and close friends each year. Mostly we like to make them ourselves, but if it’s been hectic then we just buy some, and don’t beat ourselves up over it!  We get out our Christmas decorations and Advent calendar on 1st December, which I fill with simple activities to do each day, and this year we are going to pick out our real Christmas tree from the Christmas tree farm. These are the things that I want my children to remember – the little traditions and activities carried through from year to year.

The unavoidable presents. So many presents! It seems like each year there are just more and more people to buy for. There are family members, partners, children, friends, teachers… the list goes on. A few years ago in our family we said, enough! We decided that we would buy small, useful and educational presents for the children in our extended family, and we do a Secret Santa amongst the adults. That way each person only has to buy for their spouse/partner and one other person. We always buy our children’s teachers something nice (usually wine or chocolate, this year we went for pretty orchids), and for friends we’ve found a lovely card and getting together for drinks or a nice dinner is actually lovelier!

In terms of gifts for our children, for me the key word is planning. Mila has her birthday in late November so I start planning her birthday and Christmas simultaneously around late October/early November. I’m a big online shopper (just ask my postman, hi Steve), so I need to make sure I order things in time, because they often take a little longer to arrive down here in Tasmania. It also means I get to avoid the shops during the silly season, which is a win on all counts!

Whilst we like to make a fairly big deal out of the kids’ birthdays, at Christmas time we take things down a notch – whatever your beliefs it’s fair to say that Christmas is about other things than the latest toy or gadget. For the past few years I’ve adopted a little mantra for the children’s gifts, which is by no means new, but definitely useful:

Something they want / Something they need / Something to share / Something to read

It really is a fantastic little guide, it takes out a lot of the guesswork, avoids present-overload (which I believe is a genuine thing!), and everyone is happy.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on some of your Christmas traditions and how you avoid the Christmas crazies!

Until next time,

Melissa x