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7 must-try tips for beating Christmas stress

Looking for ways to ensure you and your tribe have a relaxing Christmas this year? Swap the chaos for calm with our essential tips and remedies.

1. Prep food before the big day

The more organised you are before Christmas Day, the better – so make use of Coles home delivery services, for starters! You could also spend the day before Christmas doing tasks like parboiling spuds ready for roasting, or blanching veggies and storing them in the fridge. Peel prawns a few hours before serving – they’ll be fine covered and stored in the fridge. And on the day, make a ‘running order’ list to help you manage the jobs that need to be done. Simply work backwards on your list from when you plan to serve up.

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2. Set up a bar outside

Keep guests happy, hydrated - and most importantly out of the kitchen! - by setting up a drinks table outside. You’ll save lots of time letting them DIY their own drinks rather than running after everyone to top them up. Load a bucket with ice, then fill it with a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. You could also whip up a big-batch cocktail or mocktail that’s ready to go, too. For a refreshing non-alcoholic punch, try our cucumber, lime and basil spritz.

3. Embrace calm Christmas shopping 

That means avoiding the festive crowds and frayed tempers at the mall the week before Christmas! Instead, shop early (ideally with a rolling list for Christmas gifts that you buy from all year round) or when sales are on. It’s easy to then store the gifts ready for wrapping just before Christmas. Shopping online or choosing quieter shopping times – like late at night, if stores are open – can also make gift-buying a much more enjoyable experience.

 

4. Make use of your air fryer

It’s easy to get stressed at Christmas trying to coordinate several dishes with just one oven – so put the air fryer to good use, too. It’s great for roast potatoes, pork crackling and even pavlova!
For a delicious pav base, line the basket of an air fryer with baking paper (we used a 5L-capacity air fryer). Use an electric mixer to whisk 4 egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add 1 cup (220g) caster sugar, 1 tbs at a time, whisking until mixture is thick and glossy and sugar completely dissolves. Whisk in 1 tsp cornflour, 1 tsp white vinegar and 1 tsp vanilla essence. Preheat air fryer to 100°C. Spoon mixture into lined basket and shape into a disc. Cook for 1¼ hours (don’t open the air fryer during cooking). Open the air fryer slightly and leave the pav inside for at least 1 hour so it cools down slowly. Serve the pavlova with your favourite toppings.

Everything you need for a delicious air-fryer pav base

5. Stockpile reading material

Hosting Christmas is a huge job, especially if you’re the one responsible for making a list, checking it twice, and ensuring the festive feast is on track. So make sure you build in time for yourself afterwards – perhaps with a long, luxurious Boxing Day morning spent reading in bed! Whether you buy a pile of books to get you through the festive period or load up your Kindle with titles you’ve missed, you’ll love knowing there’s a good read to look forward to.

 

6. Be mindful of your mental health at Christmas

Not too many people find Christmas relaxing, and there may be factors adding to your stress level. Maybe you’re facing the festive season without a loved one this year, or perhaps there are some tricky family dynamics you have to navigate. If that’s the case, your mental health can be put to the test. Take steps to take care of you: be realistic about what you can achieve. Rather than racing around to see everyone, choose instead to only visit one set of relatives. And don’t hesitate to ask for help with the prep. Everyone can pitch in, do a job and take the pressure off so you get to enjoy the day, too.

 

7. Put Christmas wellness rituals in place

We’ve all got special family rituals we observe around Christmas – whether that’s dressing the tree together, going to a carols event or giving out funny presents to relatives. But what about wellness rituals that keep things stress-free for you? Nipping upstairs for a warm bath, meditating before starting the day or taking the dog for a long walk after Christmas lunch can all go a long way towards helping you decompress and enjoy a bit of quiet time, too. Merry Christmas!