Holiday Season Survival Tips: How To Not Lose It This Christmas

Holiday Season Survival Tips: How To Not Lose It This Christmas
Carly Jacobs

I don’t find Christmas very stressful.

To be fair, I’m a child-free grown up with a very supportive partner so we’re pretty good at navigating Christmas without too much stress. Our biggest issue is usually making it around all the families on Christmas day so we can see everyone but Mr Smaggle doesn’t drink so he tends to happily ferry me around while I do a wine and beer tour of our family homes. It’s grand.

None of this happens by accident though, there’s lots of careful planning involved. For example, Mr Smaggle is an introvert and only has a few hours of solid people contact time in him per day before he stops being able to communicate effectively from pure exhaustion so we need to spend that time wisely. Me? I can’t get enough of Christmas celebrations. Often he’ll drop me over to my parents house nice and early so I can get the full Smaggle Christmas experience. Day drinking and listening to the Mariah Carey Christmas album while making gourmet food in the kitchen. He’ll come back a few hours later in time for lunch and he’ll have a lovely time, because he’s well charged and ready to be around people. It’s little things like this that help make the day enjoyable for everyone.

Every family is different and you need to come up with systems that work for you but here are a few things to think about this Christmas if you want to survive the holiday season with your sanity in tact.

holiday season

1. Do what you want to do but try to make your family a priority 

Theoretically, I’d love to have a quiet Christmas with just Mr Smaggle and myself in Melbourne without having to travel anywhere but to be honest, I really love Christmas with my family. I also still have three grandparents (I know, it’s like science fiction!) and I want to be there for whatever Christmases they have left. So for the next few years at least, I’m making that a priority. Do what works for your family. If packing the kids into the car for a week long trip up/down the coast of Australia is more trouble than it’s worth, give yourself a year off here and there and visit the family at a different time of year.

2. Give yourself a set amount of indulgent days 

If you’re the type of person who needs to watch their weight (aren’t we all?), I have a fabulous tip from a listener of Straight & Curly. Jodie says to choose 10 indulgent occasions over the holiday season where you can eat and drink whatever you like and then you just eat healthily the rest of the time. Christmas and New Year will obviously be two of those occasions and then you have 8 occasions over December and January in which to play with. I love this concept because you get to enjoy yummy food and drink without doing too much damage to your health. Most people also respond very well to boundaries so if you put those in place before the season starts, you’ll have a better chance of sticking to them.

holiday season

3. Don’t participate in gift giving if it’s not your thing 

I buy presents for my immediate family, Mr Smaggle and Mr Smaggle’s immediate family. That’s it. My best mate doesn’t even get a present. I just chose not to participate in extra gift giving. I’d much rather take a bottle of wine to friend’s house and spend time with them rather than buy them an obligatory gift that I’m not even sure they’ll even like. It also saves me ending up with a bunch of stuff after Christmas day that I probably won’t use. If have to buy a present for someone, I always make sure it’s consumable. A bottle of wine or something delicious and edible, that way it can be eaten or re-gifted very easily and there’s less crap that ends up in landfill after the Christmas season.

4. Get on board with January catch ups 

Everyone panics about catching up in December. What’s wrong with January? It’s a great time of year to hang out. Lots of people are still off work, the weather in Australia is beautiful and everyone is more relaxed after the business of Christmas. Leave your catch ups for January and do the least amount of stuff possible in December.

holiday season

5. Don’t leave everything to the last minute 

It’s only half way through November… you could easily get all your Christmas shopping done before December. Why not aim to do that? Full admission: I won’t be doing mine until the week before Christmas because we have to drive to Canberra and Mr Smaggle’s car is the smallest car in the world so presents literally won’t fit in the tiny boot. If you don’t have this issue, get cracking on that shopping. Do as much of it online as you can so you don’t have to go to the shops. I went into the city on the weekend in Melbourne and it was out of control already. Try to avoid the Christmas crush and get your shopping done now.

This week on Straight and Curly, Kelly and I talking about the holiday season and how to survive it. You know where to find it – podcast apps and all that jazz!

What are your tips for keeping sane during the Christmas season? What’s your biggest stress during the holidays?

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  1. Missy D 9 months ago

    These are all good tips! I’m lucky because my family live 1000kms away from us and my partners family lives in the same town as us, so we can only do either one or the other – with a quick catch up with the non-Christmas family before Christmas rolls in.

    I’m a very last minute Christmas shopper (with good intentions every year to do better!), but this year I’ll be having all of December off so I feel like Christmas is going to be much more enjoyable/organised this year. Normally I’m working my ar$e off right up until Christmas day and am often on-call over the festive season (last year I spent five hours on Christmas Eve doing emergency work while my family drank outside), so it is normally a stressful/tired time.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 months ago

      Having the whole of December off sounds amazing! I want to do that! 🙂

  2. Kelly 9 months ago

    I don’t get the drama of Christmas – its supposed to be fun but people go crazy and end up hating it. If you don’t want to do it, don’t and if you want to have the “perfect” Christmas which means you have to spend 12 hours in the kitchen making beautiful food, enjoy that or change your version of perfect. I really think we get too wrapped up in what other people expect – my biggest tip, if you have to host Christmas at your place, cook / prepare what you want. If people want something else – they can bring it or host at their place.

    And I also 100% agree regarding the presents – though I am the type of person if someone asks me what I want I have a list (complete with links to the exact thing I want – and if its clothes or shoes – sizing details) … that way I don’t end up with stuff I don’t want.

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 months ago

      I should do that too but my list is really short. Clover crochet hooks or wine. That’s literally all I want, ever. 🙂

  3. Reannon 9 months ago

    Um, today’s episode is labelled as the holiday one but is actually you guys talking about calorie counting vs fasting. Is that a mix up on my end? Regardless, I still listened 🙂

    And I love that you say you don’t have to partake in gift giving. I always feel like such a scrooge when I say “no, no gifts for us or the kids”but I just don’t think any of us need the extra crap ( & lets face it, a lot of it is crap!). But I happily make up food gifts for friends & teachers & if someone ( my best friend ) insists on giving gifts I tell her she can buy or make food. I feel like its a good compromise.

    And great tip on the January catch up! I’m going to take that on board for sure!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 months ago

      Ah yes that was a wee little glitch on my part – all fixed now! There’s so much crap that comes out of Christmas, it drives me bonkers. We do presents for immediate family but apart from that, it’s nothing.

  4. Harlow 9 months ago

    I love Christmas but boy does it stress me out – I usually have at least one breakdown during the season because I feel overwhelmed…by everything! I really relate to Mr Smaggle when it comes to being overwhelmed by people. That’s actually what kinda ruins Christmas Day for me. Not because I don’t love my family but it’s just too hectic. Every year the expectation is to spend the whole day in my in laws very tiny house that gets jam packed with people – I am severely claustrophobic so being squeezed into a tiny table in a tiny room with 15+ people all sitting shoulder to shoulder…I need a paper bag! This year I’ve asked that instead of spending the whole day with family, that we go to the beach for the first part of the day and just have a quiet relaxing time. That way I won’t feel so drained and burned out, it was a relief to read that it’s not just me. I’m also going to be taking up the rule of picking a small amount of occasions when to indulge instead of every occasion that’s Christmas related!

    • Author
      Carly Jacobs 9 months ago

      That’s a perfect solution! That’s why Mr Smags only comes for the afternoon, otherwise he’d lose his shit. I’m fine, I can be around people all day! 🙂

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