The holidays can be so stressful! They are supposed to be a time of peace and joy, family togetherness and fun – but they often turn into a flurry of cleaning, shopping, not-so-welcome relatives, and other stressful things.

This holiday season, why not try to help your family unwind a bit? Then some of that festive peace and joy can be recaptured in your home.
Here are some ideas and suggestions.

1. Start Early

You’ve heard this one before, no doubt – but have you really taken it to heart? You may start early with shopping, but do you start early preparing yourself for difficult interactions with relatives? How about mailing out holiday cards – do you start those early? If so, you can do just one or two cards a day for a few weeks and be finished. You can make foods like candy and cookies ahead of time and freeze them.

2. Get Your Whole Family Involved

Sometimes, stress is caused because one person is carrying more than his or her fair share of the load. Call a family meeting and discuss all the things that need to be done for the upcoming holidays. Be specific. Then listen to each family member about what he or she thinks about the list, and how he or she can participate.

You may have to delegate to some unwilling family members, but in the end the stress reduction will be enjoyed by everyone. Maybe your daughter has pretty handwriting; she can address the holiday cards. Is your son good at cooking? He can prepare one or more of the dishes for the festivities, or make candy to give out as gifts. Maybe your spouse can split the holiday shopping with you.

3. Cut Back

Be firm with your holiday to-do list. Cut those things off the list that really aren’t necessary. In your family meeting, listen to others who may have a different approach to your to-do list than you do. Your kids, for instance, may point out that having all the furniture professionally cleaned before family visits seems over the top. Try to see their point, and go ahead and take that off the list.

4. Take Some Time to Stay Home

Families, especially young ones, often end up running around to all kinds of relatives’ houses during the holidays. This can be particularly hard on small children, whose routines are disrupted by all the visiting. Encourage family members to come to your house instead.

Even more importantly, take some time to be a family at home without any other relatives. Choose at least a few evenings, mornings, weekends, or whatever times work for your family to just enjoy the holiday. Maybe the day you put up the Christmas tree could be a special evening at home with just your close family.

Some families choose to celebrate Christmas morning on a different day due to the crazy visiting schedule of the 25th. Be open-minded and willing to try some new things, and you may find you can unwind more than you thought.

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