Christmas is undoubtedly a magical time of the year, but the endless planning and preparation can seem quite overwhelming, says Jennie Johnson. Here are her top tips for a feel-good festive season

We love the fairy-lights, the goodwill, the food, the films, even the music. What we don’t love is the never-ending to-do list. Christmas can be a challenging time of year for many reasons, so we’ve pulled together a few ideas to help you have a Christmas which feels good for you, whatever it looks like.

Plan for the feeling

When we think about Christmas, we might have a mental image of how it looks – Christmas trees, twinkling lights and mince pies for some, boxes of chocolates and presents for others. This can make us think about things we need to get or organise to make our Christmas special. But it might be worth thinking about the things that make you feel good at Christmas.

If you made a list of your three most cherished Christmas memories, what would they be? They can tell you a lot about what you could prioritise. Maybe it’s quality time spent with loved ones, or some space to relax, or being sociable. Whatever it is, when you’re planning Christmas, check if the plans you’re making are likely to give you that feeling.

Our children really need very little to experience the magic of Christmas. The connection they feel with those close to them and special time spent together is the most important part for them, so rather than feeling pressure to come up with elaborate plans, you could embrace the small moments together.

Do, ditch or delegate

Part of the reason so many of us feel our stress levels rising throughout December is because we are carrying around preposterously long to-do lists in our heads. Once you have children, these lists grow even longer (anyone else struggling to remember the lobster costume for the nursery nativity production on top of everything else?).

Try this exercise: write out every single thing related to Christmas that’s in your head, right now. Every last one. Now you have to either delegate, ditch or plan to do each item. Some things will absolutely be ditch-able when you think about it, and you definitely need to delegate too, whether to a partner, friend or family member. Then, prioritise your remaining items and schedule them realistically.

Ask for help

Please remember it’s fine to ask for help. Maybe there are tasks other people can help you with in the lead-up to the big day, but also on the day itself you could consider dividing the tasks up to different people. Maybe someone can look after the children and another prep the veg. Could someone be assigned to wash the dishes? Remember, pre-schoolers and even toddlers can help set out napkins and cutlery, so think of any little jobs they could do. They will really enjoy feeling involved.

Time for you

Think about ways you feel restored, relaxed or revitalised. Can you schedule in some time for these, both in the lead-up to Christmas and over the festive period? It could be a long bath, some stretching, an exercise class, or curling up with a good book.

No matter what a good Christmas looks like for you, we hope you have a merry one.

Jennie Johnson is co-founder of parenting app My First Five Years,