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How to have a stress-free Christmas Day

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Christmas should be a time of joy and fun, of celebration and parties and spending time with those you love. But Christmas can become a time of stress and arguments. By planning ahead a lot of the causes of stress can be dispersed.
What you'll need: 
Small toys for children
A Christmas dinner plan
Some games and activities on standby
A small first aid kit
A plan for a short walk
A Christmas film (could be on the television)
Have some small gifts and toys ready for early waking children that will keep them busy. Jigsaw puzzles, small lego sets, Christmas colouring books. Nothing too messy, noisy or likely to cause arguments!
If you are responsible for Christmas dinner have a plan written out so all you need to do is follow it on the day. When to prepare each item, put in the oven or on the stove. Get a designated helper or two so you don't have it all to do yourself.
If someone else is cooking dinner, see if there is anything you can do to help, even if its just making them a cup of tea or pouring a glass of wine. It will help the day go more smoothly for them and will make you feel better too.
When it's time for present opening, try to organise one gift opening at a time, so everyone enjoys each others gifts, and the process takes a little longer. This can be hard for children but waiting a little is a good discipline to learn. Make sure gift tags are kept so the correct 'Thank you' letters are sent later.
After dinner, ensure there are enough people to clear up and wash up. If a group of people work together, the process can be fun and the chores will be done in no time. Ensure there is not just one person doing it while everyone else plays a game.
A postprandial walk is always a good idea. The children can get rid of some energy, the adults can walk off some of their dinner and alcohol and the elderly can be left behind to have an after dinner snooze. It will put everyone in a more joyful mood!
If relatives are coming who seem unable to get along together consider whether you could invite one or two people on Boxing Day instead to avoid clashes.
If both sparring relatives have to be there on the same day, work out a way to keep them apart. Asking one to help with cooking while another is keeping an eye on the children, for example. Encourage them to talk to the people they do get on with.
Be prepared. Ensure you have aspirin, paracetamol, tummy upset pills and plasters all in stock to help deal with stress and illness on the day. Have a damp cloth ready to deal with any spills of drinks.
Manage your own expectations. Christmas is never 'perfect' but it is a gathering of people on a special day, that will create its own joys and tensions. You have done the planning. Now relax and let the day unfold.
Christmas Day is sometimes overloaded with expectation. As much as possible enjoy a day of presents, eating and drinking. And most of all - smile!
Have some Christmas music to play throughout the day.
Read out a Christmas Story or the poem The Night Before Christmas
Watch 'The Snowman'.
Have a period of time when everyone watches a Christmas film together.
Plan a few games that can be introduced if people get bored or fractious.
People will be people on Christmas Day as on every other day.


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