How to Make Christmas Less Stressful

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Make the holidays more fun by celebrating them on your terms! That's right your terms. If there are parts of the holidays that make you squirm or worse, depress you, change 'em.

You can do a few little tweaks here and there or overhaul your whole holiday experience. Here are some simple ways you can make this season more fun and less stressful by decluttering some of the ways you might've handled things in the past.

1. Put some time limits on it.

Problem: Every year you host your sister, brother in law and their crazy hyper kids for one very long day. And they are fun, for a little while. But they start destroying your house after an hour. You love them, you like being with them, but dang, a little goes a long way.

Solution: You can hang with them and still have fun, just make the time shorter. Have them come for lunch and then plan an outdoor activity like ice skating or going to the park. Part ways while you're out instead of having them back to your house. This applies to anything you are not crazy about doing. If you can't totally get out of the obligation, you can control how much time you devote to it.

2. Pick the best and chuck the rest. 

Problem: December is always jam packed with parties, cookie swaps, school events and special outings. You look forward to some of them but you always feel torn about missing out on something good and being a zombie from all the activity. If you are entertaining and you love doing it than go for it but stick to one or two events instead of a half dozen in 6 weeks. There are some really great reader's tips here that will help save your sanity.

Solution: Just like with stuff, if you have too much you start to dilute the specialness of each thing. Pick your top favorite things to do and make them a priority. Use pen when you write those on your calendar. Everything else is in pencil. Listen to your body when you are looking at your calendar. If you start feeling tense and nervous looking at all those engagements that's your signal to start saying "Sorry, I can't make the party" a few more times. If you look at your calendar and you feel excited and happy you're right on target.

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3. Buy experiences not things (or at least *less* stuff). 

Problem: Christmas shopping. No explanation necessary.

Solution: Instead of running around grabbing stuff to buy for people who don't really need anything, consider buying experiences or services for people on your list. And if you can shorten your list of people to buy for, by all means do it!

Examples of fun clutter free gifts:

Memberships to the zoo, local museums, botanical gardens

Movie ticket books

Car wash vouchers

Etsy gift cards

Food memberships (my local CSA does this. How cool is that?)

Gym memberships

Massage/haircut/self care gift certificates

Professional Organizing gift certificates (the ultimate clutter free gift!)

Flower delivery

Sports game tickets

Airplane tickets (for a visit or a vacation)

Gift cards to the recipients favorite store

Donations made to the recipients favorite charity

Books (ask if they have a wish list)

Perishables (make your signature entree and freeze it--everyone loves an easy dinner at the ready)

Any service that you are good at--give them a session of your time

Of course, request clutter gifts for yourself whenever asked. It makes a HUGE difference!

So the name of the game is simplify, simplify, simplify. The less stuff you have to do and buy, the better. You'll enjoy people and things way more when you don't feel so scattered and stressed.

Clear Calm Space
Clear Calm Space

What's your favorite clutter-free gift you've received or like to give? Share in the comments below!

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