The Happiness Connection  

Have a stress-free Christmas

As Christmas draws ever nearer, are you beginning to stress about all the things that need to be done? Perhaps like me, you still don’t have your tree up, haven’t decorated the house, or done any special baking.

Am I getting worked up about my lack of Christmas preparations? No. My family isn’t coming for Christmas because our home looks cheerful, and the meal will be worthy of a Michelin star, they are coming to spend time together.

If you take pleasure in decorating your home, producing ornate wrapping creations, and whiling away the hours baking seasonal delicacies, enjoy your Christmas preparations.

I’m talking to anyone who’s being worn to a frazzle trying to create an experience that lives up to their decorating aficionado friends, or is worthy of being involved in a magazine photo shoot.

The people who are doing it, not because they want to, but because they feel they should, or worry they will be judged and labelled a bah humbug if they don’t.

Christmas isn’t about how great your house looks, it isn’t about how well you wrap your presents, or bake gingerbread. Christmas is about being thankful for what you have, celebrating your loved ones, and if you are a believer, it is about the birth of Jesus.

It is time to take back Christmas from those lofty expectations, and celebrate it in whatever way suits your pocketbook, your heart, and your time.

If you are finding yourself feeling pressured to live up to fantasy expectations, now is the time to embrace simplicity.


Your dinner guests are not there to analyze your cooking skills, and menu choices. The meal is a time to gather together to share love and connection.

I simplified my menu quite a few years ago, and don't do any special baking. It isn’t really my ‘thing’ and if I bake it, I eat it. If we have turkey and roast potatoes, my family consider it to be Christmas dinner.


Rather than stressing over what to buy, if you get stuck, ask the people on your list what they want, or give gift cards and experiences. Presents are nice, but let’s move away from thinking they are the star of the show. Simplify what you give, and how much you spend.

Don’t feel obligated to give gifts. Giving because you feel compelled to is not giving with the spirit of Christmas. I prefer to give gifts to my friends throughout the year for unexpected reasons, rather than at Christmas.

In my humble opinion, gift bags are the best invention ever. Not only do they make wrapping a breeze, they can be used over and over.

I know what it is like to give someone a gift that is very humbly presented, when it sits beside works of wrapping art, but stop and think. In the years to come, will anyone remember how the gift was wrapped?


It is amazing how a little bit of strategic décor can add Christmas spirit to a home in a short amount of time. We have a pre-lit artificial tree, and this year it is going to stand proudly, adorned only with its lights and the angel.

After some discussion, my family decided we don’t want to spend time putting all our precious memories on the tree for such a short period of time. We would rather watch an extra seasonal movie together, or play another game of Monopoly.

I plan to decorate the mantel, hang the stockings, and put the garland on the stairs. Once I light some scented candles, anyone who walks into our house will know that it is Christmas.


Ask your family what traditions are important to them and then let the other ones slide for this year. Adopt my philosophy. If it doesn’t bring you pleasure, don’t do it.

Remember, Christmas, the winter holiday, or whatever you want to call it, is supposed to be fun, not perfect. There is no Christmas standard rule book. Expectations are placed on your shoulders by yourself.

Take back Christmas by simplifying the occasion and getting back to its roots. It is a celebration of love, so if you are feeling frazzled, give yourself some love and keep it simple.

More The Happiness Connection articles

About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

Previous Stories