In last week’s column I promised to share some tips on how to cut the crazy out of Christmas! It can be done. I’ve been doing it for years because Mowgli had great difficulty with Christmas time…all the smells and flashing lights, not to mention trying to adjust to trees inside and decorative lights outside. He always seemed to have that ‘Garfield’ look of disbelieve, watching us do what we do during the silly season. As for Santa Claus…no, Mowgli just didn’t get it. He appeared non-responsive, year after year, when his brother woke him up to drag him to toys and gifts he had absolutely no interest in.  In a way, Autism dimmed the joy of Christmas for us and became a terrible, stressful and challenging time but despite Mowgli’s difficulties and the fact that I’m not a Christmassy person, I still found a way to celebrate and fill our home with joy for Mowgli and his siblings. This is how I went about it and how you can too.

Keep Well. Stress compromises your immune system making you more susceptible to viruses like colds and flu so stress less on the run up to the festive season. Keep your immune system boosted so that you reduce the chances of ending up with the sniffles and feeling rotten when you should be enjoying yourself.

Prune the ‘to do list.’ Long before December arrives decide on ways you can cut stress, save money and tame over the top traditions.  I always aim to do less and enjoy the holiday season more. Cut the ‘to do list’ to the absolute minimum.

Scale back décor. Leave the singing and dancing decor for charity fund raisers. In your own abode, substitute a simple door wreath for outdoor lighting, Focusing holiday decor on the big three—front  door, tree and focal point—can  bring a festive feel to the house without day-long decorating sessions.

Stay home! Mowgli was easier settled and happier in his own home. Most kids are. So I informed family and friends we were staying put. Cuddling down close to the hearth beats holiday travel any day. A holiday “stay-cation” allows for family camp-outs in front of the Christmas tree, and evenings spent with movies and popcorn. Magic!

Take Time out. View silly season as a special spiritual time for you to connect with loved ones and yourself. The parties, the food and the gifts are secondary. If it all gets a bit much, find a quite room (if that means locking yourself in the bathroom for a few minutes, so be it) take some slow deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Only burn Christmas candles. Let the Christmas candles be the only candles burning. Around this time of year we can end up burning the candle at both ends if we aren’t careful so make sure you are get enough rest to enjoy all that is wholesome about this time of year.

Plan for frazzle free festive fun. Children love Christmas. Even Mowgli has warmed to it over the years but it was necessary to make a plan in November to help ensure a happy, fun-filled Christmas for all members of the family. All the gifts in the world won’t help if your child is distressed or worried so talk and make a plan centred round your child/children and look forward to family fun and precious time together.  When Christmas Day comes around you won’t be dreading it. You will be saying, “Bring it on.”