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12 ideas for more joy and less stress

Follow these tips for a stress free ride all the way through the Christmas season and into a new year! 

1. Be selective 

Don’t attempt and go to every end-of-year morning tea. But make sure you go to the one that matter. Set a date to meet friends in January instead of trying to cram everything into the last weeks of the year. 

2. Identify your stress triggers 

Identify what stresses you out and work out manageable solutions. The custom of ‘bring a plate’ to every event can be tricky – but you’ll probably notice there’s more sweet dishes than savoury, so stick to a stress free staple of chopped vegetables and hummus. 

3. Stock up early 

Add a few extra items, such as chocolate, dried fruit and nuts or extra crackers, to your regular shopping in the next few months and hide them away. This helps spread the cost and takes the pressure off December shopping. 

4. Avoid the traffic

Stay away from the stressed vibe of everyone else. If possible avoid doing your grocery shopping on a Saturday in a store that’s connected to a mall. 

5. Use great suppliers

Consider giving your veggie shop a list of what you need for Christmas and they will pack it all for you. Everything’s a delight, down to the last perfect strawberries or avocados. 

You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving  – Amy Wilson Carmichael 

6. Give simple gifts 

Choose one big present all the children or family can enjoy, or agree to spend the money on a holiday together. Give grandparents DVDs and photographs of the kids. Make a delicious homemade gift of something people might not make for themselves – from soaps to jars of drunken fruit. 

7. Buy in advance 

Buy the same lovely thing for a number of people. Choosing non-perishable items means you can buy in ahead of time and in bulk. It also gives you the option of rustling up a quick gift if you’ve forgotten someone of have an unexpected extra on Christmas Day. 

8. Give one for them and one for someone else

Wrap up a nice new stack of towels – add a gift of mosquito nets for a family in the developing world. Combine a gourmet goat’s cheese with a charity gift of a goat, a voucher for a massage with a donation towards bicycles, or a fancy bottle of bubbly with a new water pump for a village. 

9. Or don’t give at all 

Anything that takes the focus off consumerism has got to be good. We can buy pretty much all the trinkets and gadgets we want – how much more do we need? It also makes gifts at other times like anniversaries and birthdays more special. 

10. Wrap as you go 

Buy enough of the same paper to wrap everything. Stock up on cellophane and red ribbon on a roll. Use sticky notes to keep track of what is what. 

11. Prepare and celebrate 

Enjoy marking out the season by making your home beautiful. Once you’re sorted, you might even find time in December to garden or have friends over for a simple meal. Don’t try and do too much in the kitchen – dig out recipes that are a bit special but dead easy, such as a nice side of smoked salmon with bread, salad, bubbly and chocolate. Have the coffee group or book club around, so they can enjoy the Christmas-ness of your house. Don’t stress out if you don’t have time to bake – decorate Mallowpuffs with green and red icing to make cute, kitsch mini Santas! The easiest ideas can often be the best. 

12. Make plans 

Make plans for your January to be rich with cheap merry-making. Think camping holidays, a tent in the garden or sleepovers. Book in your holiday – the thought of it will energise you and give you wings in the busy months ahead. 

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