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Tips for less festive overwhelm AND less Christmas clutter! - 14th November 2023
It's been a few years now since my husband and I stripped back our experience of Christmas which was never really very full-on anyway. Every year I heave a sigh of relief that I am not caught up in the festive mania that consumes so many women at this time of year.
What is festive overwhelm?
Festive overwhelm begins when you think about all the tasks you must complete in order to "do" Christmas. It's likely that you began thinking about this in October or even earlier. From this point until the end of the Christmas period an ever growing list is at the back of your mind. In quiet moments you might feel a sense of rising panic.
Will I get it all done? Will it be good enough? Will everyone love their gifts? Will everyone enjoy themselves? Have I spent enough? Have I spent too much? Have I been fair regarding gifts purchased? Should I buy stocking-fillers for adults? Are my decorations good enough? Do I need more decorations? Is it wrong to buy a real tree? Is it tacky to have an artificial tree? Where will I get the food? Have I got enough food? Should I invite my neighbours round? Will everyone fit round the table? Have I got enough plates? Is the oven big enough? Should I organise games for after lunch? I need to deep clean the entire house a few days before my guests arrive.
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?
The problem is that most people, women especially, are trained to put themselves last - and to put everyone else first. This is 'People Pleasing' and it is not a healthy trait. When you are so obsessed with how others experience Christmas the chances are you will run yourself ragged and not enjoy it yourself. By New Year you will be burnt out and unhappy.
Our Christmas has zero overwhelm these days. We dramatically reduced the number of Christmas cards we send some years ago. Instead we make a charitable donation that we agree on each year. I'm not a natural hostess at the best of times and I enjoy quiet time with my husband which is rare for us. Hence, we don't host a big turkey lunch with all the trimmings, nor do we eat that elsewhere! Instead we drive to the seaside leaving early in the morning and our lunch is a festive themed picnic that we eat in our car! We walk by the sea and it always feels incredibly liberating!
Our solution will not be your solution - but you CAN find a way to feel better as Christmas approaches
Instead, I encourage you to write down your list of what you feel you MUST do or achieve (a bit like my made-up list above) before Christmas. Then examine each point on the list and ask yourself what you can do differently. Can you ignore this point? Or can you tweak it to be less stressful perhaps? Can you let go of the need to be all things to all people when it comes to your Christmas plans? Other people's happiness is down to them - you can never control it. However, you ARE responsible for your own happiness 100%.
If you are on a decluttering mission, don't let Christmas derail you!
Festive overwhelm is head clutter. Let's now consider the home clutter aspect of Christmas.
Think carefully about how you exchange gifts with family and friends. Are you simply giving and receiving clutter? That may sound harsh but everyone I've asked has received an unwanted gift at some point! If you've not already done it, have conversations about how you can minimalise the clutter impact of Christmas. It will likely save you money as well. Get creative. Give experiences; ask everyone what they would like rather than guessing; plan to meet up for an experience instead of doing gifts; give a charitable virtual gift; buy one large gift by clubbing together with other friends or family members; organise a Secret Santa so that everyone in your group gets one gift bought by one other person; agree a gift spend amount with loved ones and stick to it; let everyone buy their own gift that way you get exactly what you want and save on postage or even wrapping paper!
Harden your resolve around buying seasonal clutter for your home. All Christmas decorations spend more time stored than they do on display! Don't make your home look like Santa's grotto just because you can.
Avoid the "stocking-filler" gifts that are on display in shops. It's just a way to get people to spend more money and is a relatively recent thing when you remember that these days small gifts are always an addition to something bigger.
Include older children in this process. It's important they learn that Christmas is more about love than it is how many presents they get.
Avoid over purchase of seasonal food and drink, especially chocolates and alcohol. They won't all get eaten and drunk so you will be left trying to store them or finish them yourself. You know that's not a good idea, don't you?
Need some support?
I'm here to help with readily available video coaching sessions. Just one hour with me can help you view your challenges in a different light. If People Pleasing is your default setting we can talk about that and I can give you tools to become the person who no longer puts everyone else first all the time. Drop me an email to get the ball rolling.