Eradicate your Christmas stress with 2 P's and a D!

Everyone gets stressed at Christmas, even Santa! It's inevitable, but also completely avoidable. It's not like we didn't know it was coming, or that it happens at different times each year. But here we are with a few days to go, panicking about what to get Grandad, if the crucial Amazon delivery will arrive when you're out (it will!) and where the Christmas decs have hidden themselves! So how can we make our Christmases more fun and less hassle?

The first P: Planning. Yes I know it's boring, but if you do it properly and write it down, you can use the same plan each year. Let's face it, we basically repeat the same tasks every year, buy presents, send cards, decorate the house, buy food and have people round to eat it. If you're one of the lucky ones going to someone else for lunch, well done! If you write a schedule of all the little tasks, it makes Christmas seem manageable and it's out of your head and on a piece of paper. Now against each or the tasks write the date things need to be done by. For example, if you're sending your cards 2nd class, then the deadline is 20th December. Try to spread the tasks out over several weeks, for example doing your Christmas baking at the beginning of December and freezing what won't keep. If you are happy to have your food shopping delivered, book your internet delivery slot 3 weeks in advance. You can change your order up to the night before.  Presents can be wrapped and hidden well in advance and are not susceptible to prying eyes! Try not to cram everything into the week before Christmas, just the last minute essentials.

OK, so that was good in theory, but you didn't have time for it. So now there's a week or so to go and the thought of everything you have left to do is keeping you awake at night. So, the next P is Prioritisation. We sometimes have an idealistic view of how our Christmas should be. But does it need to be like that? It's just a glorified roast dinner and opening some presents at the end of the day. When you're up against it you need to decide the difference between must do and would be nice to do. Do the former and then do the latter only if there's time. Chances are no one will notice and you can take the pressure off a bit.

And finally, there are only a few days to go and this is where the D comes in: Delegate. Share the load with your partner. It shouldn't fall on one person's shoulders. Remember the difference between who is accountable and who is responsible. I may be responsible for buying my husband's parents' presents but he is accountable if I don't! You really don't have to do everything yourself. Let the kids decorate the tree. Really! It may look a mess but it will keep them quiet for a bit while you do something else. Teenagers are perfectly capable of emptying the dishwasher and putting the shopping away despite their protests to the contrary! Let guests help you clear up, you deserve it! Finally, if all else fails, get in some outside help. A concierge can help you with your social events so you can enjoy being the host. They can wait in for that inconvenient delivery while wrapping your presents and decorating your tree. Don't be a control freak and learn to outsource the things which are boring, difficult or that you simply don't have time to do. Remember, Christmas should be fun for everyone!

Contact Fiona Jones at fiona@berkslifestyle.co.uk or 07587 170707