Top 10 tips for a stress-free Christmas

22:04, Dec 21 2013

Keeping festivities simple is a key to a stress-free Christmas Day, says Barnardos.

The caregivers charity has released its top 10 tips for Kiwi families to have a healthy, happy day.

Suggestions include putting family time ahead of over-the-top presents or costly celebrations.

Barnardos service manager Rachel Turner said one of the joys of Aotearoa was that it was a country where affordable yet enjoyable Christmases were easy to achieve.

"What a lot of families are really struggling with at the moment is . . . not having enough money to do the Christmas that they . . . want to have," Turner said.

"A lot of it is about lowering your expectations [of what you can afford and provide], or being realistic with your expectations of what your Christmas needs to be . . . and not comparing it to someone else's.


"Ultimately it is about your family and if you are lucky enough to have children, you want to make Christmas about them." Most children would prefer to have an enjoyable Christmas Day than worry about how much money had been lavished on them, Turner said.

With fine weather forecast for much of the country this coming week, an outdoors celebration was a great idea for families on a tight budget.

"We [Kiwis] are close to clean and safe beaches and clean and safe parks," Turner said.

"And it is all about sharing the load at Christmas . . . so everyone bring a plate . . . and it's not about what you eat, it is [about] eating it together."

Adults had to remember to monitor their stress levels on the day, and remember children were often affected by their parents' stresses. Turner added: "It is important to remember to say 'No' to people."


1. Create family traditions
Children don't remember what they received at Christmas - they remember how they felt. Traditions can be whatever is important to your family.

2.  Share the task of Christmas lunch
Getting Christmas lunch ready on your own can be really stressful. Give each member of the family a task to do - for example, a young child can help with preparing the veggies. 

3. Start a Christmas decoration collection 
Your child will love to watch the collection grow, and when they eventually leave home, they'll have a great selection of decorations to take with them and remind them of childhood Christmases.

4. Avoid Christmas tree dangers with small children
Playpens are the safest place to put your Christmas tree if you have small children, separating the tree from the rest of the room. 

5. Get physical.
A ball game in the garden or at the park is a great way to pass the time happily together and diffuse stress. It also means the kids can let off some steam if they're feeling overexcited.

6. Set an affordable cost limit for presents.
If you have an extended family who tend to compete over gift giving, why not suggest a reasonable cost limit for gifts? 

7. Don't go into debt.
Get creative about gifts - a handmade gift or baking can mean so much more than something from the mall, and making gifts is something your family can enjoy doing together.

8. Limit the alcohol
Try to limit the amount of alcohol available - it's so easy to overindulge, but the consequences can be dire. Make sure there's at least one sober adult to look after the children and keep them safe.

9. Blended and separated families
Many children worry about how to please both parents and they may be feeling anxious about this. Listen respectfully, share your thoughts and reassure them. 

10. Take an adult "Time Out"
Time out isn't just for the kids! Take a breath.

Source: Barnados

Sunday News