happy holidays

How to Avoid Christmas Chaos

Sarah Bickers (Free Your Space), an experienced APDO member working across South East London, is passionate about helping her clients simplify their lives. Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, the holiday season can feel more tense than tranquil. If this sounds familiar, read Sarah’s guest blog below…

chaotic christmas

Does Christmas feel more chaotic than calm?

At this time of year, we’re under a lot of pressure to put on the “Perfect Christmas”; TV ads and magazines are full of this year’s Christmas tree and table-dressing trends… Not to mention a fortnight of planning seasonal feasts. On top of that you have to find the perfect gift for everyone, which then has to be beautifully wrapped with tasteful paper and ribbon.

All the festive craziness is enough to make anyone look forward to January; even if the New Year heralds the dreaded post-Christmas diet and exercise plan.

Our own expectations can add to the pressure. My mother did a wonderful Christmas, but I struggled to maintain her traditions whilst working full-time. Adjusting expectations was essential to avoid slaving away to preserve a Christmas I was too busy to really enjoy.

Home-made sweets had to go, but traditions that we love and continue include the turkey dinner and stockings for everyone (yes, even for the adults). We have also started some new traditions; so for us, Christmas really begins when we snuggle up as a family and watch ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’.

calm christmas

Let’s just stop for a moment, and take a deep breath… We don’t have to jump headfirst into the festive chaos. It’s worth taking a little time to talk with your family or friends to focus on what you all really enjoy about Christmas. When our family first did this, we were surprised to hear that rather than getting presents, what our children really loved was opening stockings together and having lots of family time.

So, how could we approach our Christmas plans differently? Working with clients, my approach to de-cluttering is: ‘Less in; More out; Organise’, so this means:

Take on less

  • If you know you’re susceptible to the illusion of ‘The Perfect Christmas’, try to avoid magazines and TV programmes on the subject. Maybe this year you could talk with your family about doing a secret Santa? If people ask for gift ideas, be specific; encourage them to consider consumables or experiences. A trip to an art exhibition will always be more memorable than the latest iPhone model.
  • Be ready to decline invitations to parties you know you won’t have fun attending. Remember, your aim is to enjoy Christmas!

Clear out more

  • If you have children, suggest that they make space for new toys by sorting through their room and donating anything unwanted. This encourages generosity and reminds them that there are others less fortunate.
  • Sort through all your winter wear and give anything you don’t wear to charity; someone else might really benefit from your old warm jacket.
  • The holidays are a perfect time to clear out your fridge and freezer: chuck out all those past-their-best pickles and unlabelled freezer bags and clear some freezer shelves so you have lots of space for Christmas ingredients and later, for leftovers.

Get organised

  • Keep a Christmas present list on your mobile or in your bag, so you don’t forget what you’ve bought (try and avoid bad quality presents which will get ditched).
  • Plan your big meals, and cook a couple of dishes for the freezer, but don’t get too caught up in panic shopping– it’s only a couple of days! Write a food list on your computer and use it for one big internet shop (you can use it again next year).
  • If you are creative, then invite your friends around to make cards or biscuits, so that it becomes a fun part of your Christmas rather than just another job to do.

Lastly, keep reminding yourself that the reason for all your efforts is to make your Christmas special to you and your loved ones.


APDO would like to wish all readers, clients, colleagues and friends a wonderful holiday season and a very happy, healthy and successful 2018!

Registered in England & Wales VAT Number 277 8442 57