24 days and ways to a more relaxed Christmas

Ditch the chocolate advent calendar and use these 24 daily tips to make your Christmas less stressful.

Photo: iStockPhoto

Forget those waxy chocolates—this Advent calendar will make your life easier.

December 1
Missed both Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Sign up for your go-to store’s e-newsletter; most companies will send you a promo code for at least 10 percent off.

December 2
Admit it: Halloween is long past. It’s time to take down the skulls. To get in a seasonally appropriate mood, bust out some jolly jams. (We heart the Christmas Pop playlist on Spotify.)

December 3
There’s no easy hack for writing personalized Christmas cards. But an email with a family photo and a quick, thoughtful message is always appreciated.

December 4
Handmade gifts are the best. Pretend you crafted something by ordering off Etsy. Do it now to ensure prompt delivery.

December 5
Visit the big guy at the mall. The elves won’t be crabby yet, and you’ll avoid the long lines.

December 6
Make one monster batch of sugar cookie dough, decorate the cookies in five different ways and then freeze them. (No one will ever know.) Find the recipe here.

December 7
Make way for the oncoming avalanche. Have the kids go through their stuff and donate to charity. (Check with fire halls and women’s shelters; Canadian Diabetes Association does pickups.)

December 8
Forget about fresh garlands or tasteful snowman sculptures. A string of lights is all you need. (If you use red, you can keep them up until at least Valentine’s Day.)

December 9
Make a list of things you can do as a family to give back. It could be as simple as shovelling a neighbour’s driveway or finishing off the purge you started on the 7th.

December 10
Iron out details with your mother, sister and the in-laws. When’s dinner? More importantly, who gets the leaky air mattress? Blast your playlist to recapture that festive feeling.

December 11
Buy gift wrap and tape in bulk so you don’t run out on Christmas Eve. (Keep track of the end of the packing tape by sticking a nickel on it.) Or wrap gifts in other gifts (think bottle of wine in a cozy pair of socks).

December 12
Avoid the carpet of dried needles. Treat your tree like a giant cut flower; ask the seller to saw 2 inches off the trunk, then water it daily. (Tip: A dab of toothpaste removes tree sap.)

December 13
Put your kids to work. Making Plasticine snowman centrepieces, wrapping presents, untangling Christmas lights—off-load all of it. Remind them that Santa is watching.

December 14
Stock up on pots of amaryllis bulbs. Flowers that bloom after the holidays are foolproof. Put a bow on it and you’re done.

December 15
Order your turkey. Better yet, order two small ones—the meat won’t be as dry, plus they’re easier to carve. (In case of a cooking emergency, the Butterball hotline is 1-800-288-8372.)

December 16
School concert ends in tantrums and tears? Remedy the stressful day by re-watching the holiday classic Die Hard (once the kids are asleep). Yippee ki-yay!

December 17
Don’t forget your co-workers who didn’t get time off. Microwave them something with love. Combine 3 cups chopped chocolate, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, ¼ cup butter and 1 tsp vanilla. Nuke for 3 minutes, pour into a greased 8 x 8-in. pan and place in the trunk of your cold car to set. You’ll earn instant brownie points.

December 18
Bring in the teacher gifts: olives, good crackers, aged cheddar, chutney, honey and dried fruit. Instant cheese board!

December 19
Prepare for the inevitable: There will be puke. Buy chicken broth, Pedialyte, children’s ibuprofen, garlic and lemons in bulk.

December 20
Are parkas getting bigger? Clear out your closet so there’s ample room for when everyone (and their puffy coats) arrives.

December 21
Who wants to mince celery on the big day? Chop all the ingredients for your stuffing now, and store in airtight containers in the fridge.

December 22
For any last-minute gifts, do a good deed. Making a charitable donation in someone’s name is win-win-win: You can just print out the card, it’s tax-deductible, and it’s for a good cause.

December 23
Start a new tradition: takeout dinner on Christmas Eve Eve. Thai food, pizza, sushi—it doesn’t matter, as long as you don’t cook.

December 24
The kids are finally (!) asleep. Mix a rusty nail (a shot of Scotch and a dash of Drambuie). It’s a little sweet and a little strong, and it’ll make you feel warm inside. You’re going to need it.

Read more:
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