Christmas is a time for friends, family and food but it’s easy to become so preoccupied with all that needs doing that it can become overwhelming and stressful rather than filled with fun and festive joy. Here are some of our top tips for a stress-free family Christmas:

1. Start early

The only way to avoid the last minute rush and panic is to start early. Christmas falls on the same date every year so stop treating its imminence with shock and surprise a week before and make a promise to yourself that you’ll leave yourself plenty of time to spare next year. If you still aren’t organised now don’t fret, the rest of our tips will help you on your way.

2. Make a list of things to do – then cut it down

The festive season can sometimes see us getting carried away with plans and hopes for all the extra things we hope to do this year. Make your list of your aims then go back and rearrange it in order of importance. By leaving the less important things at the bottom you can avoid putting pressure on yourself if you aren’t working through your to-do list as quickly as you had hoped. If baking mince pies was on the list, will it really matter if you run out of time and buy them instead?

3. Gather your supplies

Get your supplies ready so you’ll have everything you need for card writing and gift wrapping to hand. Make sure you have enough cards available and don’t forget to include extra for the children to write out themselves. Postage stamps, sellotape, gift tags, ribbons and wrapping paper should be gathered and ready for use before you actually need them. The good thing is that you can never overbuy – Christmas will arrive again next year and any extra supplies can be considered good organisation for it!

Large Family Life - Christmas Tree

Look mummy what I’ve done! – Large Family Life

4. Cut the gift list down

Write out a list of the people you plan to buy gifts for then remove some of them. It really isn’t necessary to buy people you hardly know or barely see from year to year a gift. It can be easy to get carried away so why not limit to immediate family and children only?

5. Do your Christmas shopping online

Online shopping is convenient at the best of times but really comes into its own at Christmas. Not only is it a great way to avoid the rush in the shopping centres but you get everything delivered directly to your doorstop – no more lugging heavy bags around the stores!

6. Get your gift list organised

Once you have cut your gift list down make sure it’s organised with a note of the gift, who it’s for, where it was purchased from (in case of any exchanges or delivery issues), and the date it was delivered. Also add a column to tick off when it was wrapped. This will help to avoid you buying any duplicate gifts or forgetting someone accidentally amidst all the preparation!

Large Family Life - Christmas Tree

This is what happens when 13 kids try to decorate a Christmas tree – Large Family Life

 7. Prepare for the worst

Sometimes orders aren’t delivered or are lost, gifts are broken or just aren’t suitable. It happens. Preparing for any issues which may arise beforehand will help keep stress levels low in the event of any problems occurring. Set aside a box or file in which to store all your receipts, making a note of the gifts and recipients in case of any problems after the date. Check deliveries as they arrive – if orders arrive damaged or with incorrect items contact the supplier and deal with issues immediately. Starting early means you have more time to deal with such incidences and make alternative plans if need be.

8. Get wrapping

Wrap and label gifts as soon as they are delivered – a must-do if you have a lot of presents to get through!

9. Delegate

Work out which jobs can be delegated to other family members and which can only really be done yourself. Many hands make light work, after all!

10. Give guests a deadline

Knowing how many people will be staying over or coming for Christmas dinner ahead of time will allow you to get everything organised and prepared accordingly. Nobody will mind if you ask them to confirm their attendance by a certain date so don’t feel embarrassed to ask.

11. Sort through your decorations before you plan to hang them

Try out the lights and get rid of any broken and damaged decorations. Plan this year’s theme or colour scheme early on and order new Christmas decorations in plenty of time.

Christmas Decorations - Tania

Setting up the Christmas Decorations – Large Family Life

12. Say no

Don’t be afraid to say no to extra tasks and favours you simply don’t have time or energy for. ‘No’ is a complete sentence, you don’t need to provide any further reasons or excuses.

13. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Don’t become so concerned with every little detail that it prevents you from enjoying the day itself. Make the most of being with friends and family and making memories. Don’t sweat the small stuff – enjoy the day instead!

Read more of Tania’s top tips including a guide to stress free holidays with babies and toddlers and packing tips for family travel.


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Meet Tania Sullivan, who along with her husband runs the website Larger Family Life that details all the ups and down of living in a larger family. If you’d like to discover more about their travel adventures (along with a whole lot more), visit their site or follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Family Holidays

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