Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Top Ten Ways to Have a Stress-Free Christmas

By Marybeth Whalen

Marybeth is the author of a fantastic e-book entitled “A Recipe For Christmas Joy” ($9.95). This handy resource contains recipes, ideas, encouragement and thoughts on keeping Jesus at the center of your Christmas celebration. This book was designed to help you find that Christmas JOY your heart is longing for. Go to Marybeth’s website to purchase the e-book:

10. Find a Christmas cd that ministers to your soul and play it in your home. I especially like to do this towards the end of the day when I am making dinner! The soothing sounds and Christ-centered lyrics go a long way towards renewing my perspective.

9. Make memories by baking, crafting or engaging in other creative pursuits with your family. Carve out white space to make those memories happen. Remember that if you put just as much effort into the preparations and fun leading up to the day, it takes the stress off the day itself.

8. Prepare and stick to a budget ahead of time. Discuss purchases with your husband and have a team mentality in approaching Christmas. This isn’t a time for fudging on purchases or sneaking and using the credit card. If you don’t have the money to spend, then be honest with people—including your children. Pray that God would provide you economical ways to bless those you love and that He would supernaturally stretch your buying power this year.

7. Celebrate advent in some way. Go to for many ideas, or check out the many books of ideas that are out there. This helps everyone in the family to spiritually prepare for Christmas.

6. Be intentional about preparing ahead of time whenever possible. By being intentional about your Christmas and thinking things through, you can accomplish more with less stress. Sit down with your list before you run errands and map out a route to make your time more productive. Double recipes when you cook and use the extras as gifts. Maximize your time whenever possible.

5. Let go of control and embrace whatever the season brings. This Christmas isn’t going to be perfect. Illness, bad attitudes, and disappointment will creep in. Decide now how you are going to handle those things when they happen and allow yourself (and your Christmas) to fall short of your expectations.

4. Say no when you need to. Saying no may be just what your family needs—yet too often we say yes out of guilt. Decide with your family how much is too much and ask them to hold you accountable. Then banish the guilt with the knowledge that your priorities are in order!

3. Enlist your family’s support—especially in the areas that are not your strengths! Delegation is key. I have had my daughter address my Christmas cards for years. She enjoys doing it and I feel liberated!

2. Pray without ceasing. Keep up a running dialogue with your Heavenly Father all through the season. Bookend your day with prayer. Ask Him for whatever you need as the needs arise. Maybe it is an extra measure of forgiveness for that family member you have to see. Maybe it is more patience with your excited, hyper children. Maybe it is the time and energy to accomplish what is on your to-do list. Whatever it is, don’t forget to take it to Him.

1. Put the focus on Christ, not gifts. Make Jesus the center of your celebration, not an after thought. Begin with Him, then plan everything around Him. When you do this, it becomes easier to let go of the stress and “extras” and simply celebrate the gift of Him.

Marybeth Whalen has been married to Curt for 16 years. They are the parents of six children, ranging in age from toddler to teen. Marybeth is a speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries and writes in her “spare” time. To learn more about Marybeth, go to