Calm santaDespite the sparkly fairy tale magic that is Christmas time, no one can deny that it can get unbearably stressful.

There are so many things that make it horribly expensive – starting with the extra heating bills because of the weather, through the cost of food, booze and presents. It is complicated and expensive sorting out travel arrangements to visit your nearest and dearest at this time of sharing. And no one likes having to negotiate the time you need off from work for the holiday season – if you’re lucky enough to get all the time you want free around Christmas Day, chances are you’ll have to at least sacrifice New Year’s Eve.

And then there are presents. You want to get everyone the perfect thing, but it has to be original and unique and they certainly can’t already have it. And it can’t be too expensive, but it can’t be too cheap either. And if you forget to put someone on your To Buy For list and then get wind that they’ve got something awesome planned for you, well, you’d better just hope that you’ve got some money left over to quickly get them something.

As much as you look forward to the most wonderful time of the year, sometimes you have to wonder if all the stress is worth it.

And when you have those thoughts, there are a few things to keep in mind that might make the holidays a bit less hectic.

DECEMBER 24TH IS A PERFECTLY LEGITIMATE SHOPPING DAY

Seriously. As long as the shops are open, you may as well go in them. If you don’t get paid until the 23rd, or you’re just nowhere near organised enough for this kind of thing, then don’t worry about it. No one needs a present before then. Most people will accept “yours hasn’t arrived yet” as a fine excuse until you can get it in the January sales if you have to. But don’t fret about it. Deadlines are always flexible.

IT IS OKAY TO GET PEOPLE PRESENTS FROM CHARITY SHOPS OR POUNDLAND

Or even the 99p shop. You’d be surprised at what you might find. There are actually some decent quality things hidden away there. If you’re too broke to get everyone full-priced designer stuff and your every eBay option won’t arrive until well into next year, at least give them a browse. It is, after all, the thought that counts.

PEOPLE ARE LENIENT AT THE SEASON OF GIVING

If you do end up going really, really wrong – if you bought no presents, burnt the turkey and lost the tree half way home from the shop – then … oh well. It’s the time of year that people make a conscious effort to be generous and forgiving. If you manage to mess up every little responsibility you’re lumped with at Christmas, it’s worth hoping that people will be kind about it.

YOU’LL DO BETTER NEXT YEAR

No matter how stressful it gets, remember Christmas only lasts for one day. The preparation, the planning, the shopping all culminates in one day that will hopefully make it all worth it. And, if everyone argues and you get nothing but ugly pants as gifts, never mind. It’ll be over tomorrow, and you won’t have to worry about it for eleven more months or so.

And by the time it’s all over, you’ll have learned your lesson and next year is bound to be much more organised and go far more smoothly!

Maybe.

Kirstie Summers,

Daily Zen.

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