Kicking the Clutter: Six simple tips for a stress-free Christmas

“It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” is the name of a popular and traditional Christmas song. But for many people, Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year. This is especially true when planning a gathering.

Also a big stressor at Christmas can be a lack of money, high expectations of unreasonable relatives or being overwhelmed with too many things to do. Make the holiday season more enjoyable by changing traditional ways of shopping, baking or entertaining. In other words, simplify the way you celebrate Christmas or any other holiday.

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Simply gift giving

Instead of buying multiple gifts for family and friends that might not be appreciated and end up being clutter, invite them to your home for a potluck dinner. After all, isn’t Christmas about love, getting together and enjoying the holiday? For children in my family, I buy gift certificates for skating, dancing or swimming. These activities tend to be expensive and young parents appreciate the gift.

Be grateful for what you have

Don’t always go for bigger and better when planning your holiday, advises Loretta LaRoche, author of Life Is Not a Stress Rehearsal. “Does the tree have to be bused in from the hinterlands of Alaska?” she quips. “Isn't a little bush enough?”

Give up expensive, high-stress rituals

If you’re forcing your children to see The Nutcracker or any other traditional show or event, and they whine every step of the way or are clearly not interested, make a change. True, families thrive on traditions, but it’s less about the occasion itself and more about time together. If your child lost interest in family tradition, give up expensive, high-stress rituals in favour of something simple and commonly appealing, such as watching a movie or making a favourite family dessert.

Serve traditional food

A special gathering is not the time to experiment with a new recipe. Just do what you know how to do and can do well. Many of my family members love my cabbage rolls, pita with feta cheese and spinach, and, of course, my famous European wafers. Year after year I make them, and they are always happy, appreciative and well-fed.

Powell River is big on celebration

You love to entertain, as well as cook and bake for your family and friends, but the lack of time and energy is preventing you from doing so. Powell River is not lacking in the local delicacy. You can order appetizers, smoked turkey, bread and desserts, maybe even have them delivered to you from local farmers and specialty stores.

Think of others

If your family has enough food, toys and clothes, think of others who might not be so lucky. Maybe you can invite one local family over to celebrate with you, or pack up a few toys and deliver them to a local charity. I encourage you to take your kids with you as they need to learn to give to others and appreciate what they have.

Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!

Ranka Burzan owns a professional organizing company based in Powell River and has written several books on reducing clutter and becoming more organized. For information, go to

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