Is Christmas a joyous time for you? Or are you stressed?

Overspending on presents, pressure from kids and other loved ones, prolonged and close proximity to difficult family members and loneliness can all build up your stress levels. Christmas can also be very demanding on your relationship as you spend a lot of time together with family and in-laws.

However, it doesn’t have to be so. Christmas is meant to be fun and joyous. This year take charge and make it work for you.

Make this Christmas the best ever for you and the family. Sit down right now for half an hour and decide for yourself what you can do this year to make it so.

1. Choose to believe that everything will go well. If you believe the office Christmas party is going to be boring, then think instead that it will be a lot of fun. Think only positively, and Christmas will be so much more joyous for you.

2. Watch that credit card. Do not overspend to have a good time. Hide it for the next two weeks and use your cash only as and when you wish to do so, without any outside influence.

3. Work out a sensible budget, so it doesn’t undermine the whole of 2009 for you. Christmas is only as “commercialised” as you let it be, and it can work on any budget. It is the things you do with people and the way you are with people that matter the most, not how much you spend on them. YOU are the greatest gift you can ever give – it requires no money whatsoever.

Do everyone in your life a massive favour and suggest they curb their gift expectations. Go even further, and suggest that they give some cash to your chosen charity instead of a gift to you. After all you may already have everything you want, and you will be avoiding build up of clutter.

If you must give a gift and you are uncertain about what to buy for whom, then give a gift voucher. Avoid that extra stress of anticipating whether they will/won’t like your gift.

4. Make the best of yourself for all those exciting parties and dinners. You deserve to look your best and now is the time to get that wardrobe in shape and to get a groovy hair cut.

5. Stop worrying about how the house is going to look when you have visitors and family around. They will not even notice if say the net curtains are not washed. There is no need to create that perfect Christmas as seen in all those ads. The best way to make everyone feel welcome is to be a happy relaxed host.

6. Accept your relations just as they are. They mean well and they are doing the best they can with their current level of awareness, knowledge and understanding. Enjoy their special company and eccentricities today – no one knows what’s going to happen tomorrow, never mind by next Christmas.

7. Do something different this year. Perhaps change the venue of your Christmas party or dinner, or make it a Christmas full of activities such as walking.

8. Create an alternative Christmas lunch – rather than slaving over the usual cooked lunch, have a “free for all” whereby everyone can have their favourite food. Allow anything as long as it is quick, easy and they can prepare or cook it themselves. You can then eat as and when you want and bask in front of the TV, if that’s what you like. Then have your Christmas lunch a few days later, once everything has settled down.

9. If you are going to be on your own over Christmas, then see it as an opportunity for freedom and space to enjoy the festivities even more. Do not let being on your own stop you from having a good time. Perhaps you can connect with other people like you, and have a communal Christmas lunch together.

10. Spend quality time with your significant other and plan your time off from housework etc as if you were both still at work on your normal jobs.

11. Volunteer your time and contribute to others. Focus on others and spread good vibes all around you. Think who you can help – perhaps a neighbour with the food shopping or babysitting. How about throwing a children’s party? Or feeding the homeless on Christmas eve?

Remember, it is the giver who gets the gift. What a great Christmas gift for yourself!

12. Chill out – if a guest spills some red wine, ask if it really matters. It will eventually wash out anyway, and is it worth getting your back up?

Finally, have fun! Simply relax and enjoy what is one of the best times of the year.

Ultimately, you can choose just how this holiday season will be like for you. You can choose to love the Christmas shopping, the queues, the crushes in the stores, in the same way as you love the seasonal music in stores, the feeling of sharing and the spirit of goodwill.

To quote a Christmas film (Scrooge), ‘We act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people we always hoped we would be.’

And in the coming year, make it one of your goals to be THE person you always hoped to be, ALL year around.

A joyous Christmas everyone!

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