1. Live far away from your relatives, and have no close friends to invite over. Sounds kinda harsh, but there's no stress over getting the house super-clean for company and fancy food fixed. It's just my husband, my last child at home, and me.
2. Decide whether that special Christmas bread is worth the trouble making. Last year we threw half of it away. It was lost in all the other goodies.
3. Have a complete list ready BEFORE going in to any store. That way you don't have to think on your feet with the Christmas music blaring, the lights glaring, and the other shoppers bumping into you.
4. Try to shop early in the morning to avoid crowds.
5. Keep the Christmas dinner menu simple so you can actually enjoy the holiday.
6. Take a prophylactic nap, especially if you go to a church that celebrates Christmas in the middle of the night.
7. Just because it's 'traditional' doesn't mean it's worthwhile. We don't like fruitcake, for example, so I don't make or buy any.
8. Don't stress out over everything being perfect. In later years, the children's memories won't be marred by mom weeping and gnashing her teeth. The real spirit of Christmas isn't attainable that way, anyway.
9. Realize you can't do everything. It it begins to feel as if you're pushing yourself, stop and ask yourself some serious questions. Whatever it is you're trying to do is likely not worth it. Next time either start earlier or leave it off the list of 'to-do's'.
10. Shop online. For me that's been a great discovery.
I haven't attended any Christmas parties this year. I realize now that they just add stress to the season and I don't really enjoy them anyway. As an Orthodox Christian observing the Advent fast, I don't eat meat or dairy for 40 days up to Christmas, so that's another reason to avoid parties. And I don't have the worry of trying to lose all the weight I would have gained had I gone to those parties.
I still have a lot to learn about relaxing and avoiding stress, but this has been one of the calmest Christmases for me, yet. Now that I know I have a problem with this, I can work on making the season more enjoyable for me and everyone else around me.