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Christmas might be a time of year when we get to see friends and family and rejoice in one another’s company, but it can also be stressful AF, too. That’s because, thanks to the picture perfect holiday in movies and TV, there’s a lot of pressure to try and make Christmas as flawless as possible. Unfortunately, that’s not possible.

Much like a person, no one holiday can be perfect. That means that, even on a day like Christmas, where there’s snow on the ground, a fire in the fireplace, family and friends all around you and plenty of gifts under the tree, there’s still something that’s either going to go wrong or already has. It’s OK, because that’s going to happen.

Just when you think you’ve got everything ready to go, you realize you overspent on your budget or forgot something. And, because Christmas has way too much pressure that can come with it, we’re offering up ways in which to make the holiday a little bit more low-key this year.

Christmas shouldn’t be about presents

Christmas is often thought of as the season of giving, which is true. Problem is, the season of giving can become super expensive when you realize all the people you need to buy presents for, which can lead to lots of stress and anxiety about how much you’re actually spending.

To help combat this little problem, consider avoiding presents this year and give something more meaningful. Some options to do this are handwritten notes, writing an in-depth email highlighting some things from the past year or sending a holiday video to friends and family. If you set the precedent that you don’t want anything for Christmas, make sure everyone else knows that they’ll be getting nothing from you as well.

Who needs a Christmas tree anyway?

Whether you have a fake or real Christmas tree, they can be a huge pain in the ass. It’s not just about cost, but, hell, have you ever tried to put up a Christmas tree and not just gone on an expletive-filled rant? Probably not.

Having a Christmas tree is a great tradition, but, all to often, they’re for other people, not yourself. So help keep things simple without going through the trouble of putting a Christmas tree up and decorating it.

An alternative to a Christmas tree might be a Christmas candle, which you light every night (similar to Chanukah). Or, if you really feel like you need something to show that you’re in the holiday spirit, get a nativity scene and call it a day. Hey, you don’t need to go all out to show that you care about Christmas.

If you buy Christmas presents, set a dead end budget

We all know that Christmas presents can be hella expensive. Just when you thought you’ve knocked off everyone on your shopping list, you end up finding someone else. It can be frustrating.

If you’re having a tough time telling people no when it comes to buying or receiving presents — a suggestion we mentioned above — then make sure you give yourself a budget and absolutely stick to it.

For instance, just because you’re buying Christmas presents doesn’t mean they have to be of the mega expensive variety. You can do something small, or creative or hand out $20 gift cards that total $100 and call it a day. Whatever you’re comfortable with, make a plan, go with that and stick to it.

Celebrate Christmas all by yourself

If push comes to shove, or you just want to avoid your family, go ahead and just have Christmas all by yourself. We know it’s not the ideal way to celebrate a major holiday, but, hey, it is about as low-key as it gets, allowing you do basically anything you want to.

For instance, my buddy Jason has celebrated Christmas by himself for the past four years, ever since he moved further away from his family — which wasn’t necessarily intentional. Had he traveled home each year for Christmas, it would cause him stress of traveling, lots of money for a round-trip flight and then the anxiety of dealing with seeing family and friends. It sounds bad, but, sometimes, it’s just too much to deal with.

If you really want to enjoy a low-key Christmas by yourself, simply cook something small for yourself, grab a nice bottle of wine or bourbon — or whatever your alcohol of choice is — and post up all cozy on the couch to watch movies. It’s not necessarily the most exciting way to spend Christmas, but it will be the most relaxing.

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