Set up a Wrapping Station
Find a nook or cranny with bit privacy and storage space – it might be a walk-in closet, a corner of the basement, or even the laundry room. Gather all the wrapping materials there: paper, bows, tape, scissors, bags and ribbon (now is a great time to inventory!) When you bring home gifts, assign someone who likes to wrap to have at it in the wrapping room. Wrapping gifts with small children can help them feel included in the joy of giving. The only trick to this making sure the supplies don't wander off!
Inventory Your Pantry
Few things are more stressful than finally having time to do some baking and realizing that you don't have enough sugar. Or cream. Or those little crushed red and green candy sprinkles that your youngest loves so much.
Make a list of the things you usually bake, or things you would like to bake, and then take an inventory of your pantry. Do you have everything you need?
Look at the fridge and freezer while you're at it. Do you have things for quick dinners on the go? If you're up to it, go ahead and freeze some doubles when you have time. You know they'll come in handy.
Plan to Serve
Most of us want to serve others during the Christmas season, but as schedules fill and stress builds, it's easy to get to the New Year and be disappointed.
This year, make plans early to do something that will make this Christmas one to remember. Make a commitment, write it down, and enjoy serving others. You might ask your bishop what you can do for the ward, or sign up to help a local homeless shelter. Families with small children usually find that a promise made to the young ones does not get forgotten! Find out what good causes are happening where you are and make a date to serve. You will enjoy your Christmas all the more knowing you've helped others.
Jingle Those Bells Singing Christmas carols can actually help you feel less stress. So sing along – even if you aren't the best singer in the choir. Experts say that singing encourages good breathing and releases endorphins, improving your mood!
Also a great mood lifter – exercise. Go for a brisk walk, play a game, or do some of those desk yoga exercises. Anything that gets the blood pumping will make you feel better, especially about those delicious and tempting desserts everywhere!
Nurture Your Spirit
Make time for prayer, mediation, and scripture study. It's so easy to say, "I'm too busy – I'll get to it later" but the well-known tools really are the best when they're used everyday. They help you stay on track with your priorities, and keep your patience with long lines or children with the"gimmies" They can even help you take a deep breath and enjoy the holidays. Make the time, even when it seems like there's none.
What Can Be Moved?
Look at your planning carefully and consider – what could be moved out of December? What would happen if you took the family photo for Christmas letter in October? Or send a Happy New Year letter instead? Is the week before Christmas really the best time to have a party? Some things can't be moved, but some things can. See what you can move off your plate by doing it well before the holidays, or even bumping it to later.
Elder Oaks has counseled us, "Remember, don't magnify the work to be done – simplify it" Take a list of your Christmas plans, especially the gifts you plan to give, and ask yourself how you could simplify. It is time to do a gift exchange with your extended family rather than trying to buy for everyone? Could your children do gifts of service for their siblings or a DVD of Christmas carols for grandparents rather than buying or making elaborate gifts?
Plan a Screen-Free Day
Take one of those days between when the kids get out of school and Christmas and designate it a "screen-free day. No television, no computers, no video games. Spend the time talking, playing board games, or baking. You'll be amazed how much this cuts out the stress. You may even want to do it again!
Reason for the Season
Along with your regular habits to stay close to the Savior, look for ways to include Him in your celebration of Hid birth. Some families bake a birthday cake to eat Christmas day. Many do evening devotions of scripture, a song, and maybe a story or a thought. Whatever way you find work best, remembering the birth of Jesus Christ will make Christmas less stressful for you and those you love.
By Sarah Jean Carter