The Ultimate Food & Décor Hacks For A Stress-Free Xmas

by Aparna Ayyar

‘Tis the season to be jolly—or at least it should be. Unfortunately, a shabby apartment, stacks of unmailed Christmas cards, piles of ornaments to sort and decorate, and tons of food to be cooked and served just doesn’t cut it with the festive spirit. However, resolve not to fret and fume. These hacks will help you enjoy a stress-free and calm Christmas.


  1. Grand Flourish: To minimize decorating stress, try to keep it simple and use just one grand flourish. Choose furnishings and upholstery in monochromatic colours. Pick the seasons colours such as red, green and blue. Once the basics are sorted, you could maybe use just one over-the-top accessory like a massive wreath on the wall. You could also get lots of fairy lights in red and green and put them in a big old birdcage. Another great way to cut out on all the decorating drama is to get a bunch of red roses and green candles and scatter them across the house. Choose minimalism; it’s all the rage.
  2. Work With What You Have: A great way to avoid stress is to work backwards and first assess what you already have in your loft. Decoration need not always be fancy and expensive. Think out-of-the-box. Place some old classics such as A Christmas Carol by Dickens or A Visit From Saint Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore on the coffee table. Maybe even tie them up in a red ribbon. Place some of the red Santa hats that you used last year in a basket. Even a tiny Santa costume on a hanger somewhere would infuse the place with festive spirit.
  3. Small Details: Quite often, it’s the small things that make the place look and feel festive. Play Christmas music on loop or spray some cinnamon essential oil in the living room. Clip some old holiday pictures of the family on a string, the older the better. Pictures make great conversation starters. Be prepared to have the all the elders gather around and exchange stories.
  4. Traditions: We often break our backs while trying to maintain family traditions. This Christmas would be a good time to assess if some of these traditions are really worth maintaining. Do you really need the massive Christmas tree? Won’t a small eco-friendly tree do? You could reuse it next year.


  1. Tried & Tested: Stick to the tried and tested during high-stress holidays. If mashed potatoes are what you do well, by all means, make that wholesome, hearty and delicious batch of divine goodness. If your go-to recipe is a quiche, don’t hesitate to include that in your menu. It’s better to stick to what is expected rather than experiment during Christmas.
  2. Delegate The Sides: A wise woman is not a crazed lady running around with gravy on her apron and cake batter on her face; she’s one who delegates and sips a glass of wine. Make the main course and don’t hesitate to ask for help for the sides. Guests are often happy to bring something. This year, ask for help and assign the salad, mini bites, accompaniments and condiments to different people. People also like the feeling of being involved in the main action.
  3. Cook, Bake & Freeze In Advance: To save time and do away with unnecessary last minute stress, try to cook, bake and freeze the week before the big day. This involves a little planning with regard to your grocery shopping, chopping, cooking and storing. Aim to do this at least a week and a half before Christmas.
  4. Professional Help: Although expensive, if you really wish to gift yourself a stress-free Christmas, get professional caterers to do the job. Let this be your gift to yourself or better yet, wrangle it as a gift from your family. If you plan ahead of time, you can look up special offers that many caterers advertise weeks in advance. Some food bloggers run small home businesses and provide delicious home-cooked food to mid-sized parties. Write to them and ask if they can do the same for your Christmas party.

Establish a budget before starting the shopping, decorating and cooking. Assigning an upper limit to what you’re willing to spend on something makes it easier to eliminate other unaffordable things without conflict. Delegate tasks to people in your family and maintain a schedule. Share this with your family by either putting it up in your kitchen, tacking it on to the fridge or simply emailing it to all of them.

Image: Shutterstock

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