In continuing with the theme of the week, here are two more ways to reduce your stress this Christmas:

Travel less

The tug-of-war some people go through at Christmas makes this season their least favorite time of the year. Trying to figure out how to see every relative during the holidays is enough to put some families in therapy. I am not sure why every parent expects their adult children to pack up their kids and make a personal house call every Thanksgiving and Christmas, but somehow it has become the standard expectation. The problem is that  the growing complexity of family has taken all of the peace and good will out of the season. I know families who are expected to drag their children to at least four different sets of parents and step-parents, just to keep everyone happy. Maybe it’s time to have a heart to heart with all of the in-laws, and come up with some creative solutions. Consider putting parents on an annual rotation, or better yet, invite them to take turns every other year to come to your house. Just be creative. But don’t sacrifice a quality experience at Christmas for your immediate family by trying to live up to everyone else’s unrealistic expectations.

Give away something in an unexpected way

Start a habit during the Christmas season that will change the heart of your family. Look for opportunities to give. Do it randomly and do it strategically. It’s a healthy way for your family to practice putting others first. You can buy the meal for the person behind you in the fast food drive through, give something to everyone who rings a Salvation Army bell, participate in a cause that you trust is making a difference globally. Just make sure that one of the traditions that you establish for the holidays is a generous one. Maybe sometimes, you should just be impulsive with your giving. Follow your heart. Someone challenged me one day to think about giving something away every time you are asked and see what it really costs you. I actually think it costs people more when they don’t give than when they do. Something unexplainable happens to your heart when you learn to give in an unexpected way.

What has been your experience? As we continue to post more ideas each day this week, please share how you avoid stress during the holidays.

Part One
Part Three
Part Four
Part Five