By Kylie Dawson 

The holiday season is just around the corner. Not only can it be a beautiful and memorable time of the year, but it can also  be a stressful and overwhelming time. Here are some simple tips to help make Christmas and the events that lead to it a little more fun and stress-free.

It’s okay to set expectations for gifts with family and friends. If you don’t want plastic gifts, let people know. Or, if you don’t want too many gifts from each person,  you can let them know. You can also create a list of gift options and share them with others. You can respectfully communicate your wishes, and often family and friends will understand how overwhelming it is to decide on a gift and will be thankful for some gift guidelines. 

You can discuss and write something similar to: 

We are very excited to celebrate Christmas together this year,I am very grateful for the gifts you will give our children as part of this celebration. I noticed that as Sarah and Michael’s toys run out, they actually play more often. This year, I would like to ask to receive only two gifts from each of you.  We also know that  buying gifts can be stressful and overwhelming, with all the options available. Let us know if you would like any help with gift ideas. Thank you. We look forward to celebrating the festive season with you.

There’s only so much time in one day, and the hustle and bustle between celebration and obligation can be stressful for us and our little people. 

It can be difficult to tell people that you won’t meet on Boxing Day, or even celebrate Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, and even New Year together, but in reality, you may find spacing events out will result in more quality time spent together. 

The lead up to Christmas can be stressful, both emotionally and physically, and we can find it quite overwhelming. It is important to give you and your children a break. You don’t need to attend every event that occurs. You can make happy memories at home watching a Christmas movie in the lounge room!

Take time to enjoy the present opening. As adults we are excited to see our children light up when they see their gifts, but we need to slow down and give them some time to engage in the experience. If their first present is a book, let them take the time to read through it if they would like to. Taking time to open presents allows our children enough time to thank people for their gifts in a sincere way.

Establish a routine or ritual. Rituals and routines are essential to all of our lives, especially the lives of our little people. The ritual provides security and strengthens identity and sense of  belonging. They help build bonds, strengthen  and provide comfort, especially during uncertain times. Your Christmas ritual doesn’t have to be elaborate. You can buy a very special and beautiful candle that is used only for Christmas and light the dinner on Christmas Eve. Or take a walk in the neighbourhood to check out the Christmas lights before having a picnic in the park. You can also ask your little people for their thoughts, maybe they  want to bake Christmas cookies with you, or  want everyone to wear a Santa hat for Christmas.

All the pictures you see on Instagram make you think your decorations need to be perfect and hand made and your meals need to be picture-perfect. Whilst that would be nice, you do not need to be perfect.  

In the end, time, attention and love is the best thing we can give to our children. I hope you find at least a window of time over the festive period to relax and marvel at the shimmer of the tinsel and the lights on the tree.