18 Sanity-Saving Secrets to Taking Back Your Christmas

Eve Vawter | Dec 2, 2015 Home & Garden
18 Sanity-Saving Secrets to Taking Back Your Christmas

less stressful Christmas holidayDecember has just started, and I know a lot of you are stressed out. How can I tell? By the fact that you are wrinkling your pretty little foreheads and not having any fun at present because you are worried about money; how many cookies you have to bake; if you will be able to find the impossible-to-find, nearly-sold-out toy your kid really, really wants for Christmas; and/or dealing with your hyper-critical sister-in-law who is bound to try and ruin your holiday. 

I don't worry about any of these things -- mainly because a few years ago I decided I wanted to actually enjoy my holiday and not stress about not enjoying my holiday. Here are some super-simple tricks that have always helped me.


Images via Kaspars Grinvalds/shutterstock; AlexMaster/shutterstock

  • First Things First


    © Steve Rhodes/Demotix/Corbis

    I know money is tight. Especially around the holidays. But you have to do this one, mainly just because I said so. Get some money, and I don't care if it's 100 bucks or 10 bucks or one dollar or a million gazillion dollars and get singles or dimes or pennies for it. Stick it in a Ziploc, and whenever you see a bell ringer, throw some change or a single in. Better yet, make your kids do it. The Salvation Army does amazing work year-round and they are one charity you can rest assured will put your money to good use. Plus, it's the spirit of the season, it will make you feel good, and you will be teaching your kids about giving. 

  • Start With Must-Don'ts


    © Nice One Productions/Corbis

    What's your seasonal PITA? Is it baking cookies? Hiding the damn elf? Going to your neighborhood block party and listening to that weird lady with the yappy dog try to convince you to buy her essential oils? It's over. You no longer have to do this one thing. You have my permission to take the one holiday must-do that makes you feel like a Grinch and turn it into a must-don't. The world will not end if you don't attend your office party. Christmas will still come if you don't make "reindeer chow." 

    More from CafeMom: 12 Christmas Traditions to Start With Your Kids

  • Speaking of Cookies...


    © Dean Pictures/Corbis

    You don't have to bake them. You can get a roll of premade sugar cookies, bust out the cutters and sprinkles, and let your kids go to town. You can buy cookies. You can skip cookies and leave out a candy cane and a glass of bourbon for Santa. Don't feel like baking cookies? Buy some Oreos. 

  • But What You Really Should Buy ...


    © the food passionates/Corbis

    ... or beg, or borrow or steal ... is a fondue pot! No lie. It's not Christmas to me unless I'm dipping in bread chunks into a gooey pot of melted cheese, or pound cake cubes into some dark chocolate spiked with Grand Marnier. Fondue is fun for old people and kids alike, it's cozy and yummy and it's beyond impossible to be stressed with a mouthful of cheese and bread. Plus, it's super easy to make and is a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner because it requires next to no cleanup. Trust me on this. 

    More from CafeMom: How to Host a Fondue Party

  • Or, Make Pancakes for Dinner


     © Vstock LLC/Tetra Images/Corbis

    Or buy some fun breakfast cereal and let your kids have breakfast for dinner. It's easy, it's a novelty, and who doesn't want to go to sleep with a belly full of French Toast and syrupy bacon? When you are sick of deciding what to make for dinner and you still have presents to wrap and eggnog to drink, you can always fall back on breakfast for dinner. 

  • Watch 'Love Actually'


    ©2003 Phil Ramey/RameyPix/Corbis

    Or, if you hate Love Actually, then read this hilarious article my pal Lindy wrote about Love Actually. I'll admit it, I totally adored this movie until Lindy ruined it for me, and now it doesn't feel like the holidays until I read her hilarious write-up. A sample:

    It's Hugh Grant's first day on the job, and he's saying hello to his new staff. One staffer is named Natalie, and as far as I can tell, her job is "woman." She's also incredibly, disgustingly fat, like a bean bag chair with feet, according to literally everyone else in the movie who apparently all have Natalie Dysmorphic Disorder (the silent killer).

  • Let It Go


    Disney Feature Animation 

    There is someone you miss. Whether it be a relative you are estranged from, a pal from high school you lost touch with, or a friend you had a horrible argument with and haven't talked to in years. Christmas is a time of forgiveness, of reconnecting with the people who made you ... you. So let go of whatever bad feelings you have. Call them. Send them a note. Friend them on Facebook. Give yourself the gift of getting back in touch with someone you love. 

  • Make Popcorn Strands


    © Kathy Quirk-Syvertsen/Masterfile/Corbis

    And by "make," I mean make your kids make them. Your kids will be off school, driving you crazy, complaining about being bored, so pop some popcorn, and hand them a needle and some sturdy thread and some cranberries if you are feeling ultra-festive. No one likes stringing popcorn except kids. It will keep them busy, they won't poke their eyes out with a needle, and birds and squirrels get Christmas too. 

  • Read the 'SantaLand Diaries' by David Sedaris


    © Chas Metivier/ZUMA Press/Corbis

    Or if you feel too lazy to read, listen to SantaLand Diaries here. Keep in mind, the book makes an amazing gift for anyone unfamiliar with how painfully funny Sedaris is. 

  • Your House Doesn't Need to be Perfect


    © L Ancheles/Johnér Images/Corbis

    Do you have a newborn and can't find the energy to decorate a tree? Don't feel like lugging out and untangling all your lights to deck your halls? Here's a tip. No one cares. No one will notice if you haven't decorated. People stop by? Put out some chips and dip. Throw a poinsettia on your table. Or don't. Don't let anyone guilt you into decorating your house if you don't feel like it. Plus, if you do go all out, you know who has to UNDECORATE come January 2? You. Probably with no help. 

  • Mail Your Holiday Cards


    © Vstock LLC/Tetra Images/Corbis

    And here's where having kids comes in very handy. Everyone gets the same boring holiday letter with the humble-brags about how their kids are growing so big and aren't in prison yet, so I vote you get a box of crayons and sit your kids down to write out the holiday cards. Sure, you probably can't send these to your clients, but friends and family will love receiving some badly spelled greetings and weird drawings of cats and lollipop trees. Just make sure you address the envelopes and add your return address so your recipient knows exactly who sent them a card that reads "Mary Chrisum." 

  • Don't Engage


    © Philip James Corwin/Corbis

    Someone awful will come to your home during the holidays, whether that be a rude neighbor or your nosy sister-in-law or your meddling mother. Do not engage. When they start in, and you know they will, interrupt them. Say something like, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I just noticed how pretty your earrings are!" or "Excuse me one sec, I'm going to refill your eggnog" and then walk away. Right in the middle of their criticizing your cooking or trying to one-up you about their tree or momblebragging about their dumb kid. Walk away. You don't get paid money or make Santa's Nice List by engaging with assholes. 

  • Make a Playlist


    This playlist is for you, which means only the holiday music you like, no "Christmas Shoes" or "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" (unless that is your jam). I don't care if you have Run-DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" on it five times (like, um, I may) or Joni Mitchell's "River" on repeat. This is your music that makes you happy that you can listen to while stuck in holiday traffic. 

  • Make a Milkshake


    © the food passionates/Corbis

    Always have the ingredients to make a boozy milkshake on hand. Try Bailey's or Creme de Menthe or if you don't drink, then try one of these recipes. There is nothing more relaxing than curling up on the sofa with your favorite holiday movie and enjoying a boozy milkshake by the glow of your tree. Instant stress relief. 

  • Watch This



    If all else fails and you still can't find your holiday spirit, you at least deserve a laugh. The Stir's entertainment editor Mary Hawkins (pictured here) never fails to nail down exactly what moms find so annoying about the holiday season. Watch her "Mixin' It Up With Mary" video here!

  • Buy Yourself Some Jammies


    © Mike Kemp/Rubberball/Corbis

    Once again, I know money is tight, but you know who deserves some new cute, cozy pajamas? You do. I don't care how much they cost, but you buy yourself some and wrap them beautifully and give them to yourself on Christmas Eve for all the hard work you have done. Say they are from the dog if you feel guilty buying them for yourself. You deserve to wake up on Christmas morning wearing something that makes you happy as you watch your family open all the gifts. And as you drink a mimosa. 

  • Speaking of Presents, Hide One for Each Kid


    © Frank and Helena/Corbis

    They don't get this gift until after they have cleaned up all the Christmas wrapping and taken out the trash. Or after they have done the dishes. Or after they have set the table for dinner. Save a gift and make them work for it. Trust me, you'll be glad you did. 

    More from CafeMom: The Way your Kid Wakes Up on Christmas Says a Lot About Them

  • Just Do You


    © Klaus Tiedge/Corbis

    Christmas isn't just for kids. Moms works so hard all year long and deserve time to reflect and relax and bask in the warm glow of the season. The most important thing you can do at Christmas is do you. Whether that be skipping the turkey dinner and ordering pizza, watching your favorite Christmas movie or watching all the Die Hard movies, decorating all the gingerbread houses or eating all the gingerbread. Make the holiday your own, get rid of traditions that no longer work for you or your family, take time to have fun and laugh and eat something yummy and take a cozy nap. You deserve it. 

    More from CafeMom: 15 Hilarious Dear Santa Letters from Kids

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