CRAIG BROWN: Don’t make a to-do over the Christmas To-Do list! Tips to take the stress out of the festive season

In December’s Good Housekeeping magazine Mary Berry offers her top tips for a stress-free Christmas.

Now Ann Ziety, author of Stop Stressing (2018), I Said Stop Stressing (2019) and How Many More Times Must I Tell You To Stop Stressing (2020) offers her own top tips for the festive season:

1. Have You Left It Too Late?

At this time of year, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed, caught up in the pressure to create the perfect Christmas. But why not enjoy it?

Sadly, with only two months to go, you’ve probably left it too late. So here’s an idea. Why not just have a sandwich in bed this Christmas, and save all your energy for Christmas 2024?

TOP TIP: Be sure not to spread crumbs all over your bed or you might be faced with an invasion of mice, rats, foxes and/or bedbugs.

At this time of year, it¿s so easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed, caught up in the pressure to create the perfect Christmas

At this time of year, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed, caught up in the pressure to create the perfect Christmas

In December¿s Good Housekeeping magazine Mary Berry offers her top tips for a stress-free Christmas

In December’s Good Housekeeping magazine Mary Berry offers her top tips for a stress-free Christmas

2. Take Time Off to Put Your Feet Up and Chill

It’s no good getting all those tasks ticked off if you just end up feeling frazzled on Christmas morning. Why not snuggle up on the sofa with the kids and watch the opening titles of your favourite film for a couple of minutes. Then you should get straight back to compiling your To-Do list, or you’ll have left it too late.

3. Compile a To-Do list

Keep it simple — it needn’t be much more than 60 pages.

To make things easy, write a preliminary To-Do list consisting of all the things you plan to put on your To-Do list. Then get all the members of your family to make their own personal To-Do lists, so that, following the necessary arguments and round-table discussions, you can incorporate them all into one central To-Do wall-chart.

4. Prioritise

First thing on your To-Do list should be:

a) Decide whether to indicate that you have completed each task by EITHER crossing it out with a pen or pencil, OR placing a tick or a cross alongside it.

b) Before embarking on (a) ensure that you have:

i) a working pen or

ii) a sharpened pencil.

c) If you decide on (ii) then you should first purchase a pencil sharpener. If you have neither (i) nor (ii) then put them on your To-Do list.

To make things easy, write a preliminary To-Do list consisting of all the things you plan to put on your To-Do list

5) Don’t get bogged down in compiling your to-do list

Divide everything into one of these five neat categories:

a) ‘Essential’

b) ‘Desirable’

c) ‘If I have time’

d) ‘Not my responsibility when so many members of my family just sit around all day doing nothing’

e) ‘No way. I’m out of here.’

6. Cut down on stress when picking your Christmas tree

When it comes to picking the right tree, many families come to blows. Natural or artificial? Tall, short or medium? Cut or recyclable? Put an end to countless squabbles by asking each member of the family to pay for his or her own tree, to be stored in their own bedroom, out of harm’s way.

With so many decisions to make, decorating your tree can grow very stressful. Will your friends and neighbours think that your tree is too gaudy, or too dull? Should you have flashing lights, or tasteful lights, or candles? Have you booked your local Fire Officer to drop by and assess the likelihood of a major fire disaster?

Avoid lasting damage to your mental health. This year, why not go for the Green Solution — a plain and simple eco Christmas tree, with nothing on it at all?

Cut right back on all the bits and bobs — the baubles and the tinsel, the little angels and santas and snowmen! If anyone wishes to view them, direct them to the cardboard box in the cupboard under the stairs.

7. Prepare Your Christmas Turkey Well in Advance

To avoid unnecessary stress on Christmas Day, you should have finished preparing your hand-fed Christmas turkey yesterday.

What do you mean you haven’t even bought it? You’ll be lucky to lay hands on a decent, privately educated turkey with all the relevant qualifications at this late date.

And when will you find time to deal with the stuffing, the bread sauce, the gravy, and the choice of half a dozen vegetables, all organically grown?

But, whatever you do, for heaven’s sake, don’t stress. I said, DON’T STRESS!

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